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The Startup Executive’s Quick Guide to Technical Interviews

If you’re with a startup, this guide on technical interviews is for you. Here’s how:

  • It’s quick (we know you’re probably pressed for time)
  • It highlights technical interviewing lessons that are especially relevant for startups

Lesson 1: Interviewers need relevant technical experience, and technical interviewing experience.
Relevant technical skills and experience are necessary for interviewers to evaluate answers effectively and ask the right follow-up questions—both keys for technical interviews that reveal candidates’ skills and experience.

Meanwhile, technical interviewing experience helps in every aspect of the interview, from asking quality questions to avoiding pitfalls to evaluating candidates. An underrated benefit: experienced interviewers are able to put candidates at ease, allowing for free-flowing conversations that more fully reveal what candidates have to offer, and whether they are the right fit for the particular role your organization is hiring for.

Why important for startups: You need to hire the right tech employees from the beginning, or else you’ll have a tough time getting off the ground. It’s important that you have qualified technical interviewers performing your technical interviews, so that you know that your tech hires have the technical skills and experience necessary to succeed.

More information: 9 Keys for Highly Effective Technical Interviews

Lesson 2: Provide a high-quality candidate experience during your technical interview process.
Competition for tech talent is sky-high—90% of executives in the C-suite report that recruiting IT talent is a top challenge for their companies, according to an Appirio study. Providing a high-quality candidate experience that demonstrates the professionalism and competency of your company can help sway candidates to accept your offer over a competitor’s. For tech roles, the quality of the technical interviewing experience you provide is an important part of candidates’ overall experience.

Why important for startups: You need high-quality talent, and providing a high-quality candidate experience can help you beat more established companies for it. By being more personable, being organized, scheduling technical and other interviews quickly, and by having a smooth hiring process, you can demonstrate to candidates that they are important to you, and that while a new company, yours is a high-quality organization that they would feel excited to be a part of.

Lesson 3: Don’t just focus on candidates’ current skills during technical interviews; also evaluate for growth potential.
For your company to grow, you need your employees, especially those in tech roles, to grow along with it. As Michael M. Moon, ph.D., CEO and Principal Analyst of ExcelHRate Research & Advisory Services, explained in our recent roundtable post on the top technical interviewing mistakes, hiring managers’ “primary mistake … is over-valuing current skills and under-valuing future impact and subsequently a candidate’s ability to grow. Recruiters and hiring managers shouldn’t be hiring employees solely based on what they already know, rather they should be thinking about the candidate’s ability to learn new skills. Would you want to hire someone because they can do exactly the thing you need them to do today? Which I guarantee is a smaller pool of candidates. Or do you want to hire a group of people who are smart enough to be good at that job and who can adapt and grow to a company’s changing needs?”

Why important for startups: Startups, especially, need people who can grow with them. Plus, if there are quality candidates that more established companies are missing, being able to identify them can be of great value to the future of your company.

More information: Avoiding Technical Interview Pitfalls: Practical Tips from Technical Interview Experts
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