A Nice Email

August 28, 2021

I had a nice email come in a few days ago that made my day!

Sub­ject: Re: Today’s Inter­views at Forge!

Hey Siaw Young,

Thanks so much for an awe­some inter­view last Friday! I had a blast build­ing out tic tac toe and was so grate­ful for the extra time you took to answer my ques­tions regard­ing Forge and inte­grat­ing into a team as a new hire. Our time really inspired me and made me incred­i­bly excit­ed by the prospect of join­ing Forge and I can’t say I’ve ever had a more pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence at an onsite. Hope you have an amaz­ing week, be sure check out the SF Sym­pho­ny the next time they play Gersh­win!

Best, XX

Just a random thought that popped into my head: one thing that com­pa­nies don’t do enough of is reward­ing employ­ees for inter­view­ing well. The basic premise for such a system could be as simple as:

  1. You inter­view person A.
  2. You think person A did well, and rec­om­mend her for a hire.
  3. Person A is hired and accepts the offer.
  4. If person A does well (as observed over the first how­ev­er many months), you are reward­ed in the form of it being count­ed explic­it­ly as one of the cri­te­ria toward your per­for­mance report. Dif­fer­ent weigh­tages apply for dif­fer­ent senior­i­ty levels (senior posi­tions are harder to inter­view and hire).

This cre­ates all sorts of vir­tu­ous incen­tives. You are incen­tivized to inter­view more people and help your new­com­ers suc­ceed. A sec­ondary bonus is that it dis­cour­ages exces­sive gate­keep­ing (I’m quite prone to this).

Anoth­er random thought. As an inter­view­er, these things are usu­al­ly true:

  1. You’re in a posi­tion of power.
  2. You’re an advo­cate for the com­pa­ny.

In my expe­ri­ence, it can be useful to reframe these as:

  1. The can­di­date is inter­view­ing you as much as you’re inter­view­ing them.
  2. You’re an advo­cate for the can­di­date.

I usu­al­ly start inter­views by acknowl­edg­ing that job search­es are stress­ful, and that get­ting to a solu­tion is not required for suc­cess (hint: don’t use ques­tions with only one cor­rect solu­tion). Ask if they need a short break to drink some water or stretch or go to the bath­room. I do this even if it’s their first inter­view of the day, because pre-inter­view prep can be stress­ful too.

For soft­ware engi­neer­ing posi­tions, I pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to a can­di­date’s atten­tion to detail. I look to their thought­ful­ness in think­ing about edge cases as a strong pre­dic­tor of suc­cess on the job. Tell me in detail how to val­i­date user input, even if we don’t end up coding all of it. I pri­or­i­tize this over a solu­tion that comes with unspo­ken, implic­it assump­tions about how it’ll be used, or some­thing that breaks if the user hap­pens to type an extra space some­where. Tell me how you think a real user would use this, and how that influ­ences your solu­tion.