Interviews Shouldn’t Completely Be Driven by the Interviewer

The way most interviews are conducted, interviewers care only about answers to their questions, and not about other skills the candidate has, making the candidate feel under-appreciated. When I interviewed at the end of my student days, it felt as if the company doesn’t really care about me. It cared only about ticking the boxes in their form, only in answering their predetermined questions, and not in understanding my skills and me holistically.

I made this mistake too with every interview I conducted throughout my career.

For example, in my startup Futurecam, one of our engineers is very good at seeing things from the users’ point of view and spotting UX problems, both major and minor. This is an important skill I had no idea he had until after I’d hired him.

It makes me wonder if some of the candidates I’d rejected I wouldn’t have if I’d known their complete skills. Maybe they had other skills which would be valuable if only I’d understood them as a person. After all, I don’t know all the questions to ask, all the areas to evaluate. Nobody does. So be open-minded.

Allocate some time to the candidate: Towards the end of the interview, I’ll ask: “Do you have any skills that we didn’t recognise in this interview?” Then I’ll give him all the time he needs, say 15 minutes. When he’s finished, I’ll ask him to “Tell me some accomplishments you’re proud of. It doesn’t matter what other people thought of them, as long as you’re proud of them.” When he’s finished, “Tell me some things you’re interested in.”

I’ll plan to give the candidate 30-45 minutes for this. Asking such questions towards the end of the interview, with only 5 minutes remaining, doesn’t serve much purpose. In fact, asking the candidate a question but hurrying him up as he speaks will reinforce the view that the company doesn’t care about him. So don’t do that. Give things and people the time they need.

In summary, recognise candidates holistically, not just their answers to your predetermined questions.

On-demand Leader. Earlier: IIT | Google | Solopreneur | Founder | CTO | Advisor