Are You Avoiding These 3 Pitfalls When You Conduct Technical Interviews?

When done well, technical interviews follow a consistent process to identify the most qualified candidates for your team and leave candidates with a positive impression of your company. Done poorly, though, technical interviews can negatively impact candidate experience, produce inconsistent results, and even raise compliance issues for your company. In this article you will learn about:

  • How the move to remote interviewing has impacted technical interviews
  • The top 3 practices you should avoid when conducting technical interviews 
  • How to optimize technical interviews for candidate experience

For companies that have well-established processes for conducting technical interviews in person, the transition to remote interviewing in the time of COVID-19 might be rocky. From logistical difficulties, to finding the right tools for conducting remote interviews, to re-imagining candidate experience, companies have made significant changes to adapt to a fully remote interviewing process. 

This switch to remote interviewing can also increase the likelihood of making mistakes in your processes, CodeSignal Co-Founders Sophia Baik and Tigran Sloyan find. “You lose some of the structure and consistency that you had with in-person interviews,” says Sloyan. This makes it harder to avoid some of the most common pitfalls with conducting technical interviews.

To optimize your technical interviewing process, watch out for these three practices: 

1. Using a Whiteboard or Text Editor 

Asking developers to write code on a whiteboard or in a text editor is the number one practice to avoid in technical interviews, says Sloyan. While many companies have moved away from this practice, it is still standard for some prominent companies – even in remote interviews.

There are a number of problems with asking candidates to code on a whiteboard or in a text editor. First, it’s awkward. If candidates are writing JavaScript code by hand, for example, it can be difficult to accurately represent curly braces and correct spacing. Also, it’s unnecessary. With tools like CodeSignal, candidates can write code in a fully-functional IDE during a technical interview. 

Asking candidates to use a whiteboard or a text editor provides a less realistic coding experience and makes a technical interview “unnecessarily difficult and stressful,” says Baik.

2. Asking Candidates to Share their Screen

At first glance, asking a candidate to share their screen in a remote interview (or bring their own laptop for an in-person interview) seems like a good thing. Using the device and development environment most familiar to the candidate creates a more positive interview experience, right? The problem is that this could open up a Pandora’s box of risks for your company.

“From a consistency, legal, and bias perspective, it’s a huge red flag,” says Sloyan. When candidates share their screen, it’s all too likely that interviewers will see information they shouldn’t see. This opens up new potential for bias. Even if a candidate shares just their browser window, your interviewer can see their bookmarks, browser extensions, and even search history (when a candidate starts typing in the address bar, for instance). 

3. Improvising Interview Questions

The third pitfall for your hiring team to avoid when conducting technical interviews is showing up to the interview without a consistent set of questions prepared. In other words, “winging it.”

Not even the most experienced professionals are immune to bias and irrational decision-making. Even judges – trained in objective decision-making – are subject to bias. They tend to dole out harsher sentences to defendants later in the day, a prominent study finds. In the case of technical interviews, the interviewer’s mood, whether or not they’ve eaten lunch, and earlier meetings can all impact how they ask questions and evaluate a candidate. 

“Bringing consistency to interviews is hard even when you have a consistent set of questions,” says Sloyan. Without these consistent questions, your interviewer is more likely to give candidates they like easier questions – and they may not even realize it. 

Optimizing Your Technical Interviews for Candidate Experience

Avoiding these pitfalls ultimately comes down to preparedness, say Baik and Sloyan. Being prepared for technical interviews means having the right tools for conducting remote interviews and a detailed plan for the questions you’ll ask. 

Rather than relying on screen share to conduct your remote interviews, a better approach is to use a cloud-based IDE that allows your interviewers to see how the candidate codes and collaborate with them in real time. Add in a consistent set of well-honed interview questions, and your hiring team is on its way to an unbiased process for finding the most qualified candidate for your position. 

By avoiding common pitfalls in technical interviews, you will leave all candidates with a positive experience and impression of your company.

Learn More

Want to learn more about how you can build a winning organization through data-driven recruiting? Visit CodeSignal to find out how you can measure technical skills effectively and objectively with its automated assessment and live interview solutions.

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