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Decoding success: insights from interviewing over 30 tech candidates in 18 months

How interviewing made me a better interviewee, acknowledge burnout, and appreciate how setting a vibe gets the best out of everyone

Decoding success: insights from interviewing over 30 tech candidates in 18 months
Image credit: Photo by Emiliano Cicero / Unsplash

I'm finally sharing my journey from casually entertaining an unexpected offer from WeTransfer to becoming an interviewer. After diving into more than 30 behavioral and technical interviews in 18 months at different levels, I’m spilling the tea on how I leveled up my interviewing game and what I stole from candidates that’ll make me a stellar interviewee. Let’s break down the lessons I learned the hard way and throw in tips for both sides of the interview game.

From freelancer to WeTransferian ❤️

When WeTransfer reached out to me in 2021, I was content with my freelance escapades. But the allure of their upfront communication and the promise of bringing my whole self to work made me curious. The initial email was welcoming, so I decided to explore the opportunity. 2.5 years later, here I am.

Interviewing: it's a conversation, not an interrogation 🗣️

Fast forward to my first interview with WeTransfer. The vibe was chill, the interviewers were human, and I felt the WeTransfer "Bring your whole self to the workplace" mantra from the get-go. Little did I know, this experience would soon flip, and I'd find myself on the other side of the interview screen (remote interviews ftw).

Be authentic: whether you’re being interviewed or the one interviewing, it’s a two-way street to see if you’re a good match for one another. So don’t be afraid to bring your whole self to the interview.

Anxious interviewers and nervous candidates 😬

Yes, even interviewers get nervous! Representing your company is a responsibility. I want candidates to feel at ease, showcase their skills, and leave the meeting with a positive impression of both WeTransfer and myself. It's a delicate dance of empathy and confidence; let me tell you, the jitters are real.

Nervousness is normal: it's okay to feel nervous before an interview. The trick is to channel that into something good. If you’re the interviewer, focus on making the candidate feel at ease. If you’re the candidate, and the interviewers aren’t making you comfortable, consider whether this is the kind of environment you’d thrive in.

Interviewing: where hard and soft skills collide 🤔

Let's ditch the labels – interviewing is a skill, period. It's about appearing confident, rewording, and decoding tricky questions. Some make it look easy, but behind the scenes, it's an art. Learning to structure follow-up questions became my secret sauce. Learning to adapt to candidates' styles? Well, that's a whole different skill in itself. Practice makes perfect.

Adaptability is key: be prepared for diverse interview/candidate styles. Some may make the interview challenging, but some make it really easy. Meet their vibe.

Preparation is the MVP 🚀

Before even posting a job description, we're planning the whole shebang. At least two weeks of syncing, standardizing, and refining our approach. It feels like orchestrating a self-managed kubernetes cluster to ensure every interviewer is on the same page, questions are primed, and success is measured consistently.

Understand the process: it doesn’t matter which side of the table/screen/phone you’re sitting on; understand the interview process and know exactly what to expect before you go into the interview.

Structure: the interviewer's best friend 🗒️

A structured approach helps everyone. From a warm welcome to a breakdown of the interview structure, setting expectations is key. We're not hunting for perfection; we're after lived experience, problem-solving skills, and communication prowess. Oh, and a well-placed (tame) joke or two? Excellent for breaking the ice.

Structured preparation: as an interviewer, it’s your duty to plan the entire interview process meticulously. That means: refining the job description, standardizing questions, syncing with interviewers, and creating consistency in measuring success. As a candidate, to stand out, you should know what you’re going into at each round and bring some well-crafted questions. Candidates who don’t seem interested in the company/role don’t leave lasting impressions.

Interviewer burnout: a real struggle 😓

In a world of constant distractions, interviews demand 100% focus. From someone whose downtime is doomscrolling TikTok or Reddit while a video plays in the background, 100% focus is hard. After a session, the mental fatigue is no joke. Burnout hit hard, and it wasn't until a debrief that my co-interviewer and I realized we needed a breather. Lesson learned: Block off some post-interview downtime and ask for week-long breaks every now and then. It's a game-changer.

Self-care matters: Interviewing demands intense focus. After each session, allocate time to wind down and avoid burnout. Recognize when it's time to take a break from interviews for a longer period so you can perform your best.

In the end, hiring requires a little luck in timing. That said, you may end up with a job or coworker you love, all because you took the time to prepare, focused on learning the skill of interviewing, and looked after yourself in the process. Happy hunting!

Interested in joining us at WeTransfer?

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