3 Common Mistakes Managers Make While Interviewing Internet Engineers

As any tech hiring manager can tell you, the market for engineers is becoming increasingly competitive these days. Internet engineers, in particular, are becoming harder and harder to find. Acquiring top-notch technical talent is critical to the success of many companies, but few seem to be succeeding. So how can you make sure your company is one of those lucky few? How can you stand out from the crowd and snag your dream internet engineer? There are hundreds of articles explaining exactly what you should do in an engineering interview (We even wrote one! Read it here). Instead, we’re going to tell you exactly what you shouldn’t do. Below are 3 common mistakes that can stall an interview and send competent candidates running for the hills. Avoid these and you’ll be well on your way to landing a game-changing hire.

Asking questions beyond your technical knowledge.

Ideally, the person interviewing internet engineers should have a background in the field. Too often, hiring managers don’t have the specific expertise or experience needed to keep up with a candidate when answers become overly technical or complex. As Neil Roseman, former VP of technology at Amazon explains, “When asking a question, you have to know what to consider a very good, good, poor or very poor answer and why.” Before asking any technical question, make sure you know what to look for in an answer. If you can’t judge the value of an answer, you’re wasting your own time. Internet engineers (at least the ones you’re looking to hire) are a smart bunch. If they ask for clarification and you can’t give any, or if they launch into a detailed technical answer and see your eyes start to glaze, chances are they won’t get the best impression of the technical capabilities of your company.

Ignoring the big picture.

Basics are important. Internet engineers should be expected to demonstrate their abilities in coding, system design, and other technical staples over the course of an interview. But it’s important not to ignore the value of an employee who can think at 10,000 feet. Often, hiring managers forget to grill engineers on their ability to think big picture. Yes, engineering jobs are task oriented, but companies should also look for applicants who can see how individual tasks fit into larger company goals. During the interview, ask the candidate big picture questions and see how they respond. Questions such as “What was the last project you enjoyed working on and what did it contribute to the company overall?” are good indicators of aptitude of ability to think big. If they nail the first part but struggle with the second, you will want to make a note of it.

Forgetting to sell them on the job.

Interviews are not one-way! It’s something that many interviewers recognize, but few do anything about. In a competitive hiring market, prospective internet engineers are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. They’re looking for an interesting and rewarding workplace, and usually the interviewer is the first representative of the company they will have a real interaction with. Don’t go soft on the candidate; your first priority should always be getting the information you need to make an informed decision. But you should attempt to come off as friendly, intelligent, and helpful. As Roseman explains, interviews should be “tough but fun. Good developers want to know they’re talking to smart folks.” Sometimes a meaningful connection with the interviewer will be the difference between landing a great engineer and losing them to a competitor. Remember that interviews are two-way and you’ll be much better off!

There’s no complete, step-by-step guide to running a perfect job interview, especially in a hiring market as competitive as that for internet engineers. Interviewers will have to have experience, intuition, and a fair amount of luck. But avoid these three common pitfalls and you’ll have a much better shot at landing a stellar employee.

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