Technical Interview Method


Sometimes Innovation is simply about doing a normal thing in a different way. It doesn’t have to be rocket science if it brings an improvement to an existing tool or process. With this in mind, you can read below my personal developed technical interview method. I applied it multiple times and as far as I can tell, it is successful.

The allocated time for the technical interview is one hour. I start with introductions and with a few questions based on the candidate’s resume. Once he/she becomes comfortable I move towards the actual test.

First, I ask 6 general questions, looking for definitions of 6 concepts that the candidate will have to use in his future role. Every question is noted from 0% to 100%. The arithmetic average of the notes will represent 40% of the final score. If the candidate doesn’t know the answer to a specific question, I explain the concept in a few sentences. In my view, an interview should be a communication in both ways, and every participant should walk with something new learned out of it. From a different perspective, a good understanding of concepts, even if only at definition level, proves that the interviewed person has some good knowledge me or others could use as a starting point to work with. This section of the interview lats between 10 and 20 minutes.

Second part of the test, I enunce a business case that I built based on the future role of the candidate. I make sure the business case contains all or most of the concepts discussed in the previous section. My main goal is to understand how the person thinks. I also assess the candidate’s mindset. The business case is noted from 0% to 100% and accounts for 60% of the total score. The business case section in mainly a discussion in which I try to help the candidate towards the right answers as much as I can. Even a person who doesn’t know anything could be smart enough to do the business case, getting a 60% score.

Then I end the technical interview with a short 5 minutes Q&A session and requesting the candidate’s feedback on the interview.

In my experience 60% of candidates score below 50% and I consider them not well qualified for the job. Another 10% of candidates score above 70%, making them overqualified. I chose my recommendations from the candidates that score between 50% and 70% and they usually confirm in their next role.

You might ask yourself why I exclude the ones that have a score higher than 70%. Think of a gaussian distribution, where you have the potential of candidate on the Y axe:

Potential vs Score

In my view, everyone that has a score higher than 70% has a higher chance to easily get bored in the new role. That person will also not use his learning curve. The candidate will not have the opportunity to get passionate about his job. I am expecting for these candidates to be less involved and less committed, therefore I do not recommend them.

Talking about this technical interview method with a recruiter, his feedback was that the percentage notting system does not account for diversity. I do disagree with him, a good technical answer is good no matter the gender, race or age of the person who is providing it. If the interviewer gets influenced about these parameters, perhaps he’s not a professional. Not allowing personal sentiments to affect decisions is what professionals do the best.

Another feedback that I received for the technical interview method is that I’m ‘skinning the candidates alive’ with this method. In my defence I believe I don’t. I do provide them answers too. That was not the case of the interview that inspired this quote:

Technical Interview

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