This is the one thing I wish I could teach interviewers about interviewing – Gayle Laakmann McDowellFeatured

whitneycaneel's profile thumbnail
I loved reading this, thanks so much for sharing! This resonated with me, "Knowledge about this topic isn’t predictive of job performance, despite how “real world” it is". This rings so true. The traditional interview process needs to be disrupted and this is a great gateway to facilitating that change!
Miriam's profile thumbnail
@gayle I was name-dropping you last week when I was talking to comp sci current students at UT-Austin :) I told them you were my classmate at Wharton and I wish I had your book when I was interviewing for CS jobs out of college. I told them they are so lucky to have access to so many great resources which didn't exist in my time.
cadran's profile thumbnail
doubling down here as a fan girl. I've said it before, but Cracking the Coding Interview was a game changer for me learning how to do white boarding interviews. Very excited to have your insights here on hiring, Gayle :)
ara206's profile thumbnail
"an interviewer should never require 'basic knowledge' of a topic." Never thought about this but it makes so much sense! Why would you want to interview someone in a way that only shows they were able to learn a couple day's worth of knowledge on a random topic?
Gayle's profile thumbnail
Right?? It's so intuitive to people when you explain it, but they often don't realize this beforehand.(Now, there is an exception -- which is when it's a red flag that the person doesn't know something basic, based on their background. For example, a doctor who doesn't know how to apply a bandaid. But in that case, it's still not that you need basic knowledge. It's that the lack of basic knowledge signifies an issue with their general ability to understand topics.)
sgovindgari's profile thumbnail
This was a very insightful post, Gayle. I wish more interviewers actively researched on interviewing techniques and improved their skill to look for signals in a candidate. And this comes with practice. I feel like at our current jobs as engineers we have to play so many roles that interviewing becomes an afterthought, something we are also not measured against in our performance reviews. I would love to chat with you more about how we could help interviewers become better at interviewing. Maybe a new book is underway?
atomasik's profile thumbnail
Thank you for this! It's surprisingly intuitive when you describe it that way. I will be interviewing apprentice candidates next week and am excited to be able to put this in to practice.
jessziyuezhang's profile thumbnail
Gayle this is super helpful! Great read. I'm actually struggling with this precise question at work at the moment - I'm redesigning the interview process, for data scientists.What I struggle with is how you judge whether a skill is a signal. Specifically:1. if an experienced hire cannot write simple SQL queries, that seems to be a strong signal that they didn't do well in their previous role, and would impact their ability to have an impact in their future role. However, this is also a basic skill. 2. The second set of "basic skills" are things specifically related to statistics. If someone trained in statistics cannot answer simple technical questions, this is also a red flag. Again, this is also a basic skill. What's your general advice on testing things like "can I doctor put on a bandaid"? When are these tests necessary and when are they not? How would you balance the interview day or pre-interview screenings?Thanks!
Gayle's profile thumbnail
I think you can separate these things. Whether you need SQL on the job or not, it's reasonable to expect that someone well versed in SQL should in fact be able to do basic queries. That is, you could reject Person A from a job due to their poor understanding of SQL -- and hire Person B who has no knowledge of SQL at all. Person A *should* know SQL, but they don't, and that's a red flag. Person B doesn't know SQL, and that's fine, because you don't need SQL (or only need a basic level that's easily teachable).So that goes for SQL queries, possibly simple technical questions, etc. Whether it's needed for the job is a somewhat separate question.That said, in many cases, you don't need to design specific tests to do that. You can ask questions that are more challenging and in the process reveal if there are major red flags.