Inside Out

Notes on seeking wisdom and crafting software

As an interviewer

The highest order bit is ensuring that the interviewee has a great time for that hour. It means that the interviewer must be compassionate, lend a hand wherever necessary and provide opportunities for the interviewee to learn.

I will share two experiences from a recent recruitment trip.

We were talking about promises in javascript and forayed into the under-the-hood implementation. How would you implement async primitives in a program execution model? The question was less of how javascript implements promises but more of how would you approach this problem if starting from scratch. The initial response made my day, “That’s interesting! I have never thought about it. Lets break it down.” The individual went on from the x86 program execution model taught in schools to multi-threading and explored a few approaches. But javascript is not multi-threaded. Who cares? That’s just another constraint we could solve given few more minutes. The highlight is the attitude and happiness in exploring unchartered territories.

In another interview session, we were discussing about a system design problem. About 35 minutes into the discussion, I see a ping on a chat channel on my laptop. I respond to the question on chat. In no time, that ping becomes a discussion and here I am sitting multitasking between a system design and an orthogonal dialogue on some principles. I screwed it up. It was a mark of disrespect for the interviewee’s time. Probably none of us benefited or felt inspired from the interaction. Moment of learning for self.

Interviews is not a one way interaction where the interviewer knows everything and tests the interviewee expecting specific answers. Rarely do we see such interactions in our day to day work. So why validate it in the interviews? It is much more rewarding experience to learn about the interviewee’s attitude, ability to break down problems and a growth mindset to work on anything. Leave a thing or two on the table that makes the interaction worth their time.

You can show your kindness by opening up to collaboration and listening carefully for the hour.