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The UX of Interviews (From both sides)

For the last couple of months, I have been talking with different companies about my next position. It’s a fascinating experience for me because I have been on the other side of the table for the last dozen years. Specifically, I am fascinated by how different people approach talking with candidates. This following is a hodgepodge of different anecdotes and topics, but hopefully you find it useful.

The Grilling
I was at an onsite interview and one of the people who worked there was grilling me with pointed questions. I asked him, “What is the fear you have about the wrong person in this position?” He said, “We have a great thing going, and I don’t want this person to screw it up.” From a effectiveness standpoint, I don’t think this is the best tactic to find and inspire the right person. Unless the culture is all about people getting attacked on a regular basis, it just starts off the relationship as adversarial. Interestingly, in that same interview, another interviewer contradicted the assertion that things were great.

The first tip is to be positive. Even if you have dirty laundry (everyone does), you shouldn’t vent to a candidate. It’s a poor first impression. Also, communication gaps are easy to pick up on when you interview 5 people in a row and they contradict each other. I guess the tip there is to have pre-interview alignment meeting. Few people do it, but it’s worth gathering to see what we are all looking for in a candidate and what our responsibilities are in the interview.

Enthusiasm is Infectious
Three interviewers come to mind who were REALLY enthusiastic. They really loved their company and their roles. These people made me want to work there. They infected me with a positive feeling about the company. Why doesn’t everyone do this? In every interview, you should spend at least 10% of the time “selling”. The reality is that candidates have multiple offers. You have to give them a reason to want to work there. I remember at Engagio, I made 4 offers to product managers, each one of which got more lucrative deals elsewhere. (I tried my best)

Responsiveness is a Virtue
For job seekers, a week is a long time. When I was recruiting people, a week would go by in an instant. There should be some Einstein Relativity thing here where time is different depending on whether you are the recruiter or the candidate. However, the tip here is that responsiveness is good. Close the loop with candidates you are not pursuing and tell them when things are delayed. The worst is when the signal goes dark for weeks on end. I found systems like Lever were awesome helping with this sort of thing. A good candidate tracking system is crucial for helping your hiring managers keep up with communications to hundreds of candidates.

LinkedIn is King
Today, I received an invite to a LinkedIn BlockChain thing called Dock.io. I don’t know if it will gain in popularity, but I am willing to give it a try. The truth is that LinkedIn has a near monopoly on resumes and jobs. I don’t bother looking anywhere other than LinkedIn. I paid for the job seeker booster package, which I feel gives decent value. For some jobs they have something called Easy Apply. It works great. I wish everyone used it. Although I am complimenting LinkedIn, I think it is dangerous for any market to have a monopoly. Competition is the heart of innovation. Who is competing with LinkedIn? Facebook is in the news lately about data privacy, but truthfully, I have more data on LinkedIn.

Progress Report
The process is slow until it’s not. When I was recruiting, I felt that you had to kiss alot of frogs before you found the prince/princess. It’s the same when you are interviewing. You have to maintain energy and just keep moving forward. On the positive side, I have had time for a few household projects. I just upgraded my tortoise table to include a patch of Irish Moss. It’s quite nice and the tortoise likes it. (I think)

If you know of positions for Head of UX or Principal Product Designer, please send them my way.

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