Have you ever hired someone you wish you hadn’t? Has your brain ever been fooled by the sheer magnificence of a resume or a portfolio? Or, a candidate had such an impeccable vocabulary that it could challenge thesaurus, and you were too overwhelmed to look further? If you have, you must know what I am talking about. For those who didn’t, you are at the right place reading the right piece. The few things that I will state here are purely based on my research and conversation with the interviewers on the 1000+ interviews that we have done at AirCTO. What you read here today, might save you a wrong hire followed by an ugly, expensive and traumatic termination.
Three red-flags you mustn’t ignore during the interview:
The highly-experienced candidate
We have some standards inbuilt in our genetic code, we value “time” a lot. So, the number of years of experience becomes a very important parameter during the interview. We would look at a guy with 7-8 years of experience and would assume that he is of course very clear with basics. Come on, he is a tech-lead, of course, you wouldn’t ask him to implement recursion. You would assume he knows it by default.
There, stop right there! Do not assume, ever! You have a job description and all the skills mentioned very clearly over there, right? Don’t skip any one of them just by looking at the experience of the candidate, what if his basics are not right? Not possible, you say? I will provide you with an instance which happened to us just a week back.
So, there was this candidate, let’s call him Rahul who was interviewing for a startup for a senior position. He was asked a simple question by our expert -”What are some of the types of HTTP methods and what are the uses of each?” Though he could answer the first part correctly (POST, PUT, GET, PATCH, DELETE etc), he hesitated at the second part and came up with an answer which was not correct but very carefully crafted.
To be sure, our interviewer came up with a follow-up question with a practical implementation, “What kind of request goes to the server, while you edit a form?” The candidate replied, “POST". Ideally, it should be a "PUT" request.
But when confronted, he continued trying to cover up for his mistake with weird explanations. A person who covers up for his mistake in the interview itself, well you can only imagine what could be his impact once he is hired. Moreover, there are some standard protocols in programming which is a must-know for any senior guy. So, the follow-up question helped the interviewer understand the real knowledge of the candidate.
The great orator
We, humans, are prone to manipulations and can be easily played with words. For those who have read Julius Caesar, remember Mark Anthony and his famous speech before Caesar’s corpse? Well, a great speaker with a fantastic command over English along with a pinch of confidence can confuse even experienced interviewers.
If a candidate has this skills and wants to manipulate you, BE AWARE! He will act as if he knows everything as you will believe him, solely by looking at his flawless resume and vocabulary, and you will skip asking him the necessary questions. We had faced a similar situation, where the candidate was everything that I described above, but fell quickly in front of a very basic question.
He was asked the simplest possible question for his job profile.”How do you move a local file from your system to remote server? ”He answered, “I can Google it.” Then he answered,”I will use mv command”, which is a wrong answer by the way. When countered on that, he started giving random justification like these days developers use GUI, so I don’t need to use the command line. Seriously? Our interviewer was amazed to know that the guy (for a CTO role) never bothered to dig what’s happening under the hood.
We all agree some commands can be Googled, but there are some basic stuff which every developer should know, some basic code standards which should simply be followed and no amount of excuse will make up for the lack of knowledge. And by the way, not to forget that this guy was supposed to lead a tech team.
Look for the relevant technologies
We always strongly suggest that one should follow the job description, but as in all cases, there are some exceptions. I will provide a very recent example, in the must-have skills of the candidate, there was jquery, etc. The candidate had very good knowledge in ReactJS but he was not really great at jQuery. So, there was a doubt, if he should be a good or a bad fit.
So, while taking technical interviews, please focus on the relevance of each technologies/frameworks and the comparative importance of each and the knowledge expected from the candidate in terms of the job position.
We are humans, and not above manipulation. Even with years of experience under our belts, we can falter. Speaking of tech-hiring, when you are interviewing for a technical position, you are assessing a person who would play a very vital role in building your product. If the guy is a blunder, so would be your product. Therefore, it should be handled with great caution and strategy.