4 Steps To Interview Candidates

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

People are the most crucial thing in a company.

When Steve Jobs was back at Apple and was asked what he was most proud of, his answer was the Apple Team, his people.

As Zig Ziglar said:

“You don’t build a business. You build people, and people build the business.”

One thing you have to do to have amazing people working in your company is to have an effective hiring process. A hiring process is more than just interviewing.

It starts with the company understanding their goals and the people necessary to help achieve them. Then you can write a job description where you have to have clear what will be the responsibilities and skill necessaries.

After interviewing, you have to have onboarding and development processes. Hiring isn’t that simple.

In this text, I will focus on the interview process.

In my first company, we developed an interview process containing four steps. I participated in all of them with a different person with me. Having two people doing the interview helped us discuss what each of us had seen in the candidate.

Step 1: Technical test

We received lots of emails from people that wanted to work with us (this is very good). However, we don’t have time to interview everyone or analyze every resume and portfolio. Because of that, we always started sending a technical test.

We didn’t even look at the resume and portfolio that the candidate sent. If the person really wants to work with us, she would do the test. Not everybody did that, which helped us filtering a good number of people.

Each role has a specific test. The most senior person developed the test in the determining role. A partner of mine and me helped to guide how to do that. This way, we could create something that evaluates the candidate and at the same time wasn’t going to be too time-consuming for her.

The candidate had two weeks to send back the technical test. When that happened, the person that developed it was the one that evaluates it. It was a quick look to check if the candidate has done the necessary. If so, the candidate moved to the next step. Later on, we would talk more about the technical test.

Step 2: Background analysis

Being approved on the test, the candidate would go to the first meeting with us. As we were a remote company, we did all the sessions using Zoom.

In this step, the goal was to know more about the candidate’s history. We wanted to understand what she has already done in life as a whole and what she would like to keep working on.

As we work remotely, we never hired a person that has never worked before. There is some learning for who starts to work. It is necessary to have someone around to help with that. We couldn’t provide that.

Right after the interview was over, I talked to the person from my team that joined the interview, and we answered the following questions:

  • Do the experiences the candidate listed seem to be true?
  • Does the candidate know ways of working similar to ours? Does the candidate seem to organize herself efficiently?
  • Would it be someone you would like to work with?
  • Is the candidate someone who wants to stay in the area and improve?
  • Does the candidate fit in the salary expectation of the vacancy?

If we answered YES for all the questions, the candidate would move on to the next step, which we would schedule for the next week.

Step 3: Technical talk

If the candidate has a relevant minimum experience, and her vision is aligned with the company, she would move on to the next step.

In this step, we did a technical analysis and talked about the test the person has done before. It was difficult for us to reprove someone in this step. This talk helped us measure the person’s professional capacity (junior, senior, etc.).

It was also crucial for us to understand better how the person thinks and get knowledge. One of our company values was related to learning, so we already touched a bit on this interview.

Again, right after the interview was over, we answered the following questions:

  • Does the candidate have the necessary experience and skills for the vacancy?
  • Does the candidate understand and agree with the way we work concerning his knowledge area?
  • Is the candidate committed to continuing to learn about her area?

Step 4: Cultural fit

This is the step that I less see companies doing.

The last interview’s goal was to check if the candidate has a cultural fit with the company. It doesn’t matter if the professional is the best technical one if she doesn’t share the same thinking and how the company works.

I once made this mistake. I had two people that went through all the steps, and I needed to hire one. I chose the best technical person, even knowing that the other person had a better cultural fit. I had to fire the technical person after a couple of months. He was not doing ok.

I ended up hiring the other candidate, and he stayed in the company until its end. His performance was fabulous.

We based this last step on the company values we had. There was no right or wrong answer. We wanted to understand how to candidate thought in specific scenarios.

Another important thing is that this interview was a veto one. The person should have a cultural fit with us to go on. We changed that after making the mistake I told you before.

After the interview was over, we talked about how the candidate fits each value of ours. With that, we checked whether she has a cultural fit with the company. If so, we would send a proposal to the one in our list that was best technically rated.

Quick recap:

  • Step 1: Technical test
  • Step 2: Background analysis
  • Step 3: Technical talk
  • Step 4: Cultural fit

The interview process took us at least one month to finish. It can seem like a long time, but hiring the wrong person for your company is very dangerous. You can lose time and money training the wrong person.

I did countless interviews during my entrepreneurial journey. I have seen a lot of stuff. I also changed a lot during this time.

As you interview more people, you will learn what works best for you and your company. You will learn what and how to ask questions.

It’s important to remember that the candidate is also evaluating you. So, be professional and show her how amazing it will be if she joins your company.

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