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Best Interview Experience

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It can be easy to snipe about bad or mediocre interview experiences I’ve had. So instead I’ve been thinking back to what really worked with past interviews.

One company from my past that stands out regarding the interview process is MetaCommunications here in Iowa City. If I recall correctly it was split into three phases. We ended up talking over the phone at first to see if there was mutual interest, but that wasn’t part of the process.

Also, when I say that it was done well, I’m not saying that it was done well because I performed well. I’m saying that it seemed to give the person being interviewed the best chance of being able to show their potential, how they go about solving problems and how they interact with others.

The first phase of the process was mainly a meet and greet to get to know each other. I went into their offices to see where they worked. There is nothing unique here, but it is a nice touch to take the pressure off and it’s the first logical step with any employment relationship.

The second phase was on a different day and it was the core of the technical interview process. I was given a computer with Visual Studio and asked to do a couple of tasks. One task was to implement a puzzle in C#. During the process I could ask questions, look stuff up and they could observe how I went about things. I forget the specifics of the second task but it had something to do with building a validation system in ASP.NET MVC.

The first task I did relatively well on and the second I performed so so. But instead of the interviewers being on the high ground and me just having to defend what I know over a phone, we were on equal footing, face to face and I was using a tool I was familiar with. We were interacting somewhat like if I were actually in the job. I strongly believe that this types of interaction gives both sides more accurate and far more information about if the position will be a good mutual fit.

The third phase was on another day and it was primarily about negotiating a salary and deciding when to start. Once again this is an important phase but it is pretty standard.

Spreading the process into 3 interviews gives some time for both sides to consider what is happening. It also puts them on equal footing, so they know who they might be working with.

Some employers might balk because it takes them out of the perceived position of control in the interview. To them I would say that even though this is true, they still will get better information on how the person interacts, better information on their technical skills and if they would be a good fit in the company.

Others are going to balk because they have to spend more time interviewing people. Yes, and it’s worth it. Finding the right people and not artificially weeding them out is critical to your business.

And others may say that the process doesn’t scale. It is more costly time-wise, but once again it is the one method I’ve seen that has been the most fair and provides both sides with the data they need to make better decisions in hiring.

I have no connection to MetaCommunications at this point, but they are moving into downtown Iowa City and they are hiring. Also they have webcams :)

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Written by Chris Sutton

April 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Technology

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