Interviewing — Why you should be an interviewer


Twitter Summary: You have more leverage to influence the direction of a company by the people you hire then what you do.

In my career so far, I have interviewed well over 1000 people. I developed a reputation for being good at it which meant I was interviewing software engineers, product managers, engineering managers, VP, CTOs, and even prospective new attorneys which is far out of my core expertise.  My job was to assess their ability to be good at their position and to help figure out if they would be successful within the broader context of the company.

I frequently get groans from engineers about how much of their time interviews consume. In fairness, a badly scheduled interview will fragment a developer’s day to be unusable and developer’s want to spend the time doing what they were hired to do. Unfortunately, a well run interviewing effort typically  takes multiple hours of time if you have:

  • Phone Screen — Assess if there is a match to the position you are looking to fill.
  • Pre-planning — Scheduling and assigning interview roles and competencies to assess.
  • Interview — Spending the time to figure out if this is someone you would like on your team.
  • Debrief — Write up of interview and discussing whether the candidate is a match.

In spite of the time sink,  as an employee you should be on as many interview loops as you can handle and make time to schedule.  The benefits of interviewing are tremendous to both your quality of life and the future success of your company. The two reasons to do this are:

  1. You get to decide who works with you! — Never are you more influential in your own work life then when you get to decide which colleagues you will work with daily. That interview process is crucial to figuring out: Is this candidate smart, innovative and adaptive to your environment? Can this candidate help me solve my problem? What about if the problem occurs at 2AM? Will this colleague help me make a right decision and support me, or will the colleague argue with me when I am wrong and explain it in a way I can understand and agree?
  2. You are helping direct the compass of the company. — The people you hire are the mission statement of the company. By hiring people that not only have a talent for their role, but also have abilities in other domains you get to broaden the reach of what your company can do. If you hire only system kernel engineers, you shouldn’t be surprised if the next innovation is a recommendation to rebuild a new O/S. If you hire framework developers, you will inevitably be requested to approve a new framework that will help develop your product. If you hire a diverse set of talent that can do their jobs, and also innovate in new directions, you will be able to innovate in many new directions.  The abilities of the people you hire, will help dictate what will be considered the “core competency” of your company, and which features will be outsourced to different companies.

Yes, interviewing can be time consuming.  However, you can assist in planning your schedule so that interviews are less intrusive, because the benefits are immense for your day-to-day work environment and the future success of your company.

Future posts will cover, How to interview, What your interview should cover,  When you should interview.

One thought on “Interviewing — Why you should be an interviewer”

  1. Great post, Ruben. I’ve always enjoyed interviewing candidates. You often get to learn something new or a new perspective at a given problem. I think if you start getting tired of it, it’s time to try out a new question or two :)

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