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#1 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Post icon  Posted 15 October 2011 - 11:27 AM

Back in the day you could expect your eventual superior to be the one to greet you in your first interview, ask you the questions and all you had to do was judge that individuals response. So the goal of the interview was to get that person to like you and win them over with your skills.

Now it appears more and more companies are bringing in teams of people to interview a candidate and not only superiors, but your future team mates who would end up working with you.

I myself have attended at least 3 interviews within the last couple years that had not only a project manager, but people who would work at the same level as me... my co-workers. Not only did I find myself trying to impress "the boss" but also showing my future co-workers that I am at the same level as them while not trying to sound like I was more experienced/incompetent compared to them.

Does your company ask you to join in on interviews of future co-workers? Do you think it is the best thing to do for the company? Wouldn't the person feel they needed to actually hold back in order to prevent co-workers from being envious or thinking they are "not worthy to share an office with them"?

What are your thoughts? Tell us about some recent interviews you had that involved teams and team-mates interviewing you. :)

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Replies To: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

#2 AdaHacker  Icon User is offline

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 15 October 2011 - 12:53 PM

I'm not involved with the hiring process at my current company. We have a hiring team that screens resumes, evaluates code samples and exercises, and interviews candidates, and it includes several "rank and file" members of the development team - I'm just not one of them. ;) However, I was involved in the process at my last two jobs. At both companies, every candidate got a technical screening by one or more members of the development team. Of course, they were both small teams with non-technical managers, so the team members were really the only ones qualified to vet a candidate's technical skills.

Having been on both sides of this process, I have to say that I think involving the team is the only way to go. For the current employees, meeting candidates gives you the opportunity to evaluate their skill first-hand. You can't always trust managers to do this well (especially less technical ones) and you can't really get a good idea from a resume alone. It also gives you a chance to evaluate personality fit with the rest of the team and have some level of confidence that the candidate will fit in with the team's culture. From the interviewee's point of view, pretty much the same things apply. Talking to the team lets you get some idea of their skill level and personalities. That way you don't guess whether you're going to end up working with a bunch of incompetent jerks. It can also give you some insight into the corporate culture, which you may not get from management.

As far as people holding back or trying to impress during the interview, that's not something I've ever worried about. I certainly never do it when I interview. As an interviewee, you should always be putting your best foot forward - be polite and personable while showcasing your knowledge and ability. If your ability level differs from the established team, you simply have to figure out how you would fit into the team. If you're better than them, you need to figure out if you can take on a mentor role or if your growth professional will be limited. If they're better than you, you need to determine if it's a great learning opportunity or if you're just out of your depth. Either way, I don't think there's anything to be gained by not honestly representing your abilities in an interview. Always remember that a job interview is a two-way street. You're trying to figure out if you want to work there just as much as they're trying to figure out if they want to hire you. If you try to pretend you're something you're not, you could end up in a job that really isn't a good fit for you, and that's not good for anybody.
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#3 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 15 October 2011 - 01:47 PM

Very nice response adahacker. You make a lot of great points. On the three job interviews I mentioned earlier, it did give me a good idea of how the team interacts. It also gave me a great feel between "the boss" and the team. One team was actually very afraid and cautious to stay out of the boss' way which lead me to realize they were pretty much in a fear factory. Plus the boss was a schmuck but that is beside the point.

I do find it hard to interview with a team though since you always seem to find yourself defending answers and even get into debates with at least one of the team members. Trying to accommodate one person lead you into possible opposition to someone else. But if the team is certainly right for you, I do find everyone tends to gel much easier.

:)
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#4 AdaHacker  Icon User is offline

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 15 October 2011 - 03:02 PM

Personally, I find that it's all in how you look at it. I've been on a lot of interviews in the last two years. (The first batch was because I got laid off unexpectedly, the second because my last company was completely pathological.) From that experience, I've actually come to regard team interviews with the technical staff as somewhat enjoyable. I like to think of is as a good opportunity to talk shop and swap war stories. This has the side-benefit of helping with nerves.

When it comes to technical debates, I think trying to accommodate anybody is really the wrong way to look at it. If you disagree with them, that's fine - everyone's entitled to their opinion and just because you happen to disagree on some issue doesn't mean you can't work together. When I've gotten into those in interviews, I give my honest opinion while being respectful of the other people. If it seems like a touchy subject, I usually just try to present my view as what has worked best in my experience and acknowledge that things may be different in other circumstances. But in general, my policy is to know my own abilities, have confidence in them, and not be afraid to admit that I don't know something. I've found that people tend to respond well to confidence and honesty.

Of course, you have to be mindful of the line between confidence and arrogance. One of my co-workers at my last job commented on that a few months after I was hired. He mentioned that after he and another developer finished interviewing me, the conversation apparently went something like this:
Dev1: "So, what did you think?"
Dev2: "Well, he seems smart and has a lot of good experience. Seems a little arrogant, though."
Dev1: "Yeah, he kinda does. He should fit right in." (This guy had a bit of an ego and knew it.)
The funny part is that, after working with me for a few months, that same person described me as one of the most self-deprecating people he's worked with. I think I may have just been a little thrown by some of the easy questions they asked and gotten a little cocky. But I still got the job, which is the important part. :)
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#5 lionaneesh  Icon User is offline

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 16 October 2011 - 11:21 AM

Dint got a chance to interview some of my Co-Workers but yeah! We have a rating session at the end of each month! Where senior Workers get to rate the new staff members! :) , That makes them even more motivated and understand what we need from them!
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#6 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 17 October 2011 - 07:10 AM

One company I interviewed with (had sort of a startup feel) had each member of the team interview me in things they worked in. It was actually a pretty fun interview, and it allowed the different project groups to figure out where I would best fit and what my strengths were. We sadly weren't able to make things work logistically, but that was interesting.

When I "interviewed" with the company I currently work for, my future supervisor talked to me on the phone and that was that. I've never interacted with the hiring process here, but I'm also one of two people with age <= 38 (and they never seem to hire) so I'm not sure how different it would be. It's pretty corporate, though, and my group isn't likely to get any new hires, so I imagine I would be entirely out of the loop.
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#7 Curtis Rutland  Icon User is online

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 17 October 2011 - 08:22 AM

Our company does somewhat of an interview gauntlet, at least my department. First, you interview with the manager, then a group of coworkers on the team you're interviewing for, then a group of coworkers on a team that works with the team you're interviewing for, then sometimes the boss's boss if he has the time that day. At least, that was my interview experience. This varies somewhat depending on who's available.

It's exhausting as a candidate. Of course, we just made four hires a few months ago, and I'm working with some of the most talented people I've ever met, so it weeds out the ones we don't want.

I've been involved in a few of the interviews. It's good that bosses value worker input, since they're going to be the ones working with the person hired. We can tell if someone's going to fit in or not, better than the boss can. It's also good because we can identify our weak points more accurately, and determine who'd be the best candidate to fill the gaps.
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#8 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 17 October 2011 - 08:48 AM

Sounds pretty much like the process they do at Google Curtis. I hear you have to go through multiple teams there as well. Was that over multiple days or all the same day? I really don't think companies should force candidates to do day long multiple interviews all in one shot.

Luckily for me the worst I had was with my current job where I met my boss and a senior team member, followed by a small "meeting" with two other team members that turned out to be just a chat and laugh session.

They are a great team. :)
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#9 Curtis Rutland  Icon User is online

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 17 October 2011 - 10:01 AM

Oh, it was over about 4 hours. The interviews with the teams weren't all that long compared to the one with the boss, all things considered. They were so that we could get a feel for each other. I probably asked almost as many questions as they did.
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#10 sas1ni69  Icon User is offline

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 23 October 2011 - 07:53 PM

This is a really great debate, in my first programming job, I was first required to attend a 3 month Java training (without pay). There was a test every week and for the final month we had to work on a group project. Based on the marks acquired over the period of the three months, I was offered a job. If you ask me, I wouldn't do it again. The training wasn't the best and I ended up leaving the job after a year. I guess it's a little different than a group interview but some of your future co-workers and managers got to see and interact with you.
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#11 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 24 October 2011 - 04:56 AM

Ha I wouldn't waste my time with that - a 3 month test? That's more than $9,000 lost salary for a typical software engineer in my area.

This post has been edited by xclite: 24 October 2011 - 04:57 AM

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#12 sas1ni69  Icon User is offline

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Re: How Involved Are You, or Your Team, in Hiring Other Team Members?

Posted 24 October 2011 - 05:07 AM

Well you're absolutely right but I was completing my degree part time and you could say that it was my only opportunity. I was a little desperate too and didn't know any better.
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