Lessons learned after taking 500+ tech interviews in 6.5 years

  • “An engineer with product sense is 10x better than the one without it!”
    Follow this rule religiously if you are building a lean team.
  • Network like your hiring depends on it. Because it does.
    Your network and great cold emails are the key to hiring great people.
  • Sourcing candidates for the job is like sales.
    If you reach out to the wrong candidate profile,
    you will end up rejecting the candidate during the interview
    or
    candidate will reject the company after getting selected.
  • Reduce the no. of people you interview before selecting one.
    Note every granular detail about why you rejected someone.
    Make a checklist of the above things as a part of your pre-screening.
    This will filter people & save 90% of your interview time.
  • Many tech folks collect offer letters to get a pay raise.
    Save yourself from them.
    People rarely lie to someone that they connect on an emotional front.
    Tell the person you interview:
    Your startup story + how important the position is + gravity of the loss if they do not join.
  • Save your interview time.
    Do the below before starting interviews:
    Cultural check + expectation check
    Tech rounds are a waste if this goes wrong in the end.
  • People fear joining startups because of financial risk. Show how pay might be 1% lower next year, but more in the long-term. “If it doesn’t work out, I will find you a job at a great company. “ Reframe the risk, remove the fear.
  • Good companies with Bad interviewers/Bad interview process often lose Great people. Nominate right people for interviews. Structure your rounds.
  • Wrap up “not so good going” interviews in < 30 min with below structure. For 1–3 years of experience, test:

Logical ability (5–10 minutes)

Programming concepts specific to the role (15–20 minutes)

Product sense (10–15 minutes) Each step should be a knockout.

  • Keep a hook question. Ex for web developers: “How would you optimise the performance of a web page with many images & an infinite scroll.” The answer has N directions & helps you understand the horizontal knowledge of the person. Deep-dive on a concept if needed.
  • Many tech folks come to interview for practice. Introduce yourself & tell about your work in detail. Talk about your experience/tech stack. Your brand might be unknown but the work can always be sold. Treat this as the moment to acquire talent.
  • Avoid tricky or bookish questions in a tech interview. “That is like asking a person giving a driving test about drifting a car.” Avoid it to screen people better.
  • A negative expression during an interview can totally make the candidate lose confidence. Candidate experience goes a long way. Even on Glassdoor or geeksforgeeks. You will lose on the right talent to say the least.
  • Collaborative f2fs >>> Screen-sharing ones. Collaboration has more impact on the candidate over screen-sharing as the latter by design does not involve pro-activeness. Interviews are a two way process. Dictating a question on a zoom call does not tell much about you.
  • A candidate gives you N days to join. Keep them engaged by keeping them posted about your plans. This combined with: Your startup story + how important the position is + gravity of the loss if they do not join will psychologically make them a part of your team.