A reminder to check out the new Better Hiring For Tech LinkedIn group. Having written about hiring for a year, I’d like to invite the tech community to share their experiences and opinions.
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I’ve talked about what seem to be two conflicting topics: standardizing your interviews and accommodating different candidates. So how can you be accommodating without introducing bias?
It turns out, you can give different candidates different questions, or even a different interview process, based on:
Comfort with in-person interviews. Interviewing is stressful, so if you want to find the best people, you’ll have to accommodate those who don’t perform well on the spot. For these candidates, a take-home assignment is a good option, as is independent work.
Prior experience. Really good engineers have a solid foundation, and can learn individual technologies quickly. So if you’re looking for a Vue engineer, but your candidate has more experience with React, you’re still going to get a better signal by seeing how they work with React. Same if you let the candidate use the language they’re most comfortable with.
The important consideration is that all the options you provide and all the questions you ask are picked from a standardized pool your company has created ahead of time.
For the interview questions to be standardized, it’s important each one stand on its own. Tying this concept back to the examples above:
An in-person interview question must have objective criteria for failure, success and excellence. Similarly, a take-home assignment must have objective criteria for failure, success and excellence. Don’t compare the two types of interviews, just how well the candidate did in their respective interview.
Evaluate how prior experience translates to applicability to the role. For an experienced web developer role, you’ll want someone who understands web development. But even if your company uses Vue, a candidate with React experience and a great React solution to your interview problem is a better fit that someone with Vue experience who does poorly with a Vue solution. Make sure each version of the problem is evaluated on its own merit.
Both of these align with the principles of structured interviews. At the same time, being flexible with your requirements and providing different interview options means you can evaluate a wide range of candidates. Ultimately, you don’t have to lower the bar. It’s just that the same height bar looks different for different people.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to hiring. But it is possible to create a process that maintains objectivity while accommodating different types of candidates. The key is to define evaluation criteria for each interview option you offer.