Interview Technique (from How to Interview a Programmer)

  • Explore an Area of Expertise
  • Have Them Critique Something
  • Ask Them to Solve a Problem
  • Look at Their Code
  • Find Out What Books They Read
  • Ask About a People Problem
  • Get to Know Them

Notes on Hire With Your Head: Using POWER Hiring to Build Great Teams by Lou Adler

These notes are incomplete (I didn't finish the book)

  • Create 6-8 SMARTe performance objectives
    • Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Results-driven, Time-bound, and include a description of the environment
  • 4 Main Interview Questions
    • Please think of your most significant accomplishment in your career. Now could you tell me all about it?
    • If you were to get this job, how would you go about solving this typical problem (describe the problem)?
    • Give me a quick overview of your current (prior) position and describe the biggest impace (or change) you made.
    • NON-SUPERVISORY: Please draw an organization chart and tell me about a team project you were involved in, and describe your role.
    • SUPERVISORY: Please draw an organization chart and tell me how you built and developed this team, and describe the group's biggest accomplishment.
  • Other Questions
    • Think about your favorite work experience, something you feel was exciting, energizing, and personally fulfilling. Please describe it and tell me why it was personally satisfying.
    • You've indicated to me that you're a real problem solver. Can you give me three examples of the types of problems you like to solve?
    • This job requires a real self-starter. Can you please give me three examples of initiative in one of your more reecent positions? This would be something you did over and above the requirements of the job.

Rate Candidates On:

  1. Engery, Drive, Initiative
  2. Trend of Performance over time
  3. Comparability of Past Accomplishments (Anchor SMARTe Objectives)
  4. Experience, Education, and Industry Background
  5. Problem-Solving and Thinking Skills
  6. Overall Talent, Technical Competency and Potential
  7. Management and Organization
  8. Team Leadership: The Ability to Persuade and Motivate Others
  9. Character: Values, Commitment, Goals
  10. Personality and Cultural Fit

See Also:

Notes on 45 Effective Ways for Hiring Smart!

(How to Predict Winners and Losers in the Incredibly Expensive People) by Dr. Mornell Pierre, et al

  1. Pre-Interview Strategies
    1. Make Phone Contact with the Candidate
    2. Ask for a Letter and Resume
    3. Give an Assignment Before the Interview
      1. visit store, plant, campus, office, or web page and ask for observations
    4. Walk Around the Office When the Candidate Arrives
      1. to lower anxieties
      2. observe behavior
      3. does the candidate asks questions?
    5. Read Resumes in Teams If Possible
      1. 3-5 people
    6. Cast the Widest Net Possible
      1. inform friends, colleagues, consultants, professional associates, board members, ex-employees, family members, search firms, trade groups, previous candidates who went elsewhere of opening
    7. Use Caution Around Any Big Changes
      1. use caution with candidates from significantly different environments (corporate to small business, structured to entrepreneurial, etc)
    8. Rethink the Position Before the Interview
    9. Use Pre-Interview Tips in Combinations
    10. Conduct a Brief Pre-Interview Interview
  2. Strategies During the Interview
    1. Trust Your Instincts-Chemistry Is Crucial
    2. Look for the Passionate Candidate
    3. Ask All Your Questions at Once
    4. Have Fun During the Interview
      1. ask "Columbo-type" questions; Are you lucky?; Are you curious?
    5. Assign a Mini-Project to Finalists
    6. Seek Closure by Announcing the Five-Minute Warning
    7. the look for important statements preceeded by "Oh, one more thing. . ." or "I almost forgot. . ."
    8. Watch for Inappropriate Behavior
    9. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
    10. Pick a Subject Where You Are the Expert
    11. Take Notes During the Interview
      1. line down the middle, notes on what canidate says on one side, your thoughts on the other side
    12. Interview in Teams for Top Candidates
    13. Ask for a Legal Release
    14. Throw a Few Curveballs at the End of the Interview
      1. for instance, walk to candidate to their car
  3. Strategies After the Interview
    1. Ask for a Return Call from the Candidate
    2. Assign a Take-Home Project
      1. give a current project you're evaluating and ask for an analysis
    3. Travel with Finalists for Executive Positions
    4. Meet the Spouse or Significant Other
    5. Put Potential Problems on the Table
    6. Use an Intuitive Person in the Selection Process
    7. Consider What Psychological Tests Have to Offer
      1. Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, etc
    8. Experiment with Handwriting Analysis
  4. Checking References
    1. Ask the References to Call You Back
      1. call during lunchtime, "X is a candidate for (the position) in our company. Your name has been given as a reference. Please call me back if the candidate was outstanding.
    2. Network Up the Chain of Command
      1. be persistent about moving up the chain of command
    3. Use the Internet as a Resource
    4. Perform Due Diligence for All Finalists
    5. Ask the Candidate, "What Will I Hear?"
      1. . . . from references
    6. Devise a Phone Reference Checklist
      1. Technical competence
      2. Intelligence: "On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the candidate's intelligence?"
      3. People skills
      4. Motivation: "What motivates the candidate?"
      5. Everything else: "Is there anything that I haven't asked?"
    7. Meet References for the Finalists
      1. . . . in person, if possible
  5. Final Strategies
    1. Invest in People, Not Ideas
    2. Find Someone You Trust
    3. Follow These Three Cardinal Rules
      1. Do you trust the candidate?
      2. Clean record on crime and alcohol?
      3. Physical health?
    4. Ask Yourself These Ten Questions
      1. Do you agree with Shakespeare's "Let's kill all the lawyers?"
      2. Do clothes make the man or woman?
      3. Are drug-free employees important?
      4. Does responsiveness count?
      5. Should you create a model for future hires?
      6. Do people like working for your candidate?
      7. Can your current employees help you?
      8. Is documentation important?
      9. Do you also evaluate search firms, suppliers, and vendors?
      10. When you add one new idea from this book, should you discard one old habit?
    5. Use Yourself as a Test Case with Experts
      1. run the same background checks on yourself as you run on the candidates
    6. Suggest a Trial Run When Possible
    7. Design Your Own Hiring System
  • interviews in which you induce stress seldom work

Reference Questions:

  • Did you like the person?
  • What did they fail at doing?
  • Reputation in the compnay?
  • How did they communicate?
  • Reputation in the industry?
  • How did they react to authority?
  • Reason for leaving?
  • Level of energy, drive?
  • What did they accomplish?
  • What would you change about the person if you could?


  1. resume & application screen
  2. telephone interview
  3. face-to-face interview and testing
  4. reference checks
  5. executive/final interview
  6. selection of top candidates, contingent offer, drug/security test, and acceptance of offer

Ten-Step Interview

  1. make small talk
  2. go over the job briefly
  3. ask questions in sequence
    1. education
    2. job history
    3. outside interests
    4. strengths
    5. shortcomings
    6. goals, personal and professional
  4. take notes
  5. probe, probe, probe--always in your areas of expertise
  6. announce "we have about five more minutes", then listen carefully
  7. tell the candidate what to expect next in the selection process
  8. let the candidate ask questions
  9. thank the candidate
  10. compare notes with other interviewers

Edit - History - Print - Recent Changes - Search
Page last modified on September 30, 2006, at 09:02 AM EST