What tech interviewers struggle with the most

... and how to get better at it

Leonard Thiele is an Engineering Manager at Klarna, and a LinkedIn Top Voice in Software Development.

Here is what he has to say about interviewing tech talent.

Q: Leonard, you have conducted more than 100 tech interviews in your career. How did that go?

When I first started, doing interviews was terrifying to me. I mean, I was not only responsible for assessing someone but also for their experience during the interview. Understanding an individual's skills, potential, and fit for a role within the limited time of an interview is a big challenge. The challenge is to go beyond the surface level and truly understand the candidate's capabilities and potential contributions.

I realized that the key to a successful interview is to start a genuine conversation, allowing candidates to showcase their strengths and lead the dialogue. Rigid sets of predefined questions that only assess specific knowledge dimensions give the interviewer very little information. The candidate either knows the answers or not. On the other hand, having an open conversation about something the candidate knows offers a better understanding of their capabilities and how they could best contribute to our team.

Q: How do you learn to be a good tech interviewer?

Mentorship played a big role in developing my interviewing skills. Getting guidance and feedback from experienced interviewers, who had conducted hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews, was invaluable. The most important thing they taught me was to steer an interview in a positive direction, ensuring that the candidates were not stressed, and maintaining a supportive atmosphere.

Q: What did you struggle the most with?

Interviewing candidates with more experience than myself was initially intimidating and I needed to learn how to deal with that. But also here, engaging in open, genuine conversations helped to connect with those exceptional engineers I was speaking to, understand their perspectives, and gauge their fit for the role, irrespective of our differences in experience.

If we don’t have good processes, regular reviews and pay close attention to our own biases, we will only hire people who are like us. No interview process is perfect, but awareness and good processes mitigate the risk of every new hire being a nerd around 30 and having a beard (in my case).

My interview path has been a profound learning experience and I would recommend interested engineers to start participating in interviews themselves. It’s a fun and big challenge that teaches you a lot.

If you read until here and are interested in the topics above, reach out to Leonard (https://www.linkedin.com/in/leonard-thiele/).

He is always happy to have a chat about such topics and eager to learn more.

Hi, I am Kat Stam, the ex-CTO who helps you interview the right tech talent faster.

✳️ I prepare the structured technical interview (questions with answers and live challenges with solutions) for you and teach you how to evaluate each candidate.

✳️ I conduct structured tech assessments across all tech positions, including product, delivering the evaluations and ranked list of candidates straight to your inbox.

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