How I conduct technical interviews, with the question matrix

Enterprise context and my role

First, my role is limited to conducting technical interviews in every recruitment process.

I began to do this in 2016 while working as an IT/software architect for a retailer on its e-commerce platforms.
I was also in charge of the hosting and the middleware re-unified team at that moment. I was lucky because this team comprised experienced, autonomous, and accountable people.
Working next to them was exciting! But things became tricky when I had to renew and extend the team.

I was looking for more Java developers (for the ESB platform), sysadmins (we were early adopters of Docker in prod), and architects (multi-tasks).
And I was new at interviewing people, so I started writing technical questions as a baseline to get all the essential points that would be key to the mission’s success.

Also, I liked to ask that particular question: "What position would you like to occupy in 5 years?". An answer with a technical position was appreciated.

My questions matrix

This matrix is very personal and linked to the Java world because of its omnipresence in the IT departments I have worked in.

Answers like "I don’t know" are accepted. But trying to lie about one’s knowledge is worse.

Also, people being able to answer just a few questions was OK to me because these particular questions best matched the position.

I suggest reading this document using the google docs link. Anyhow, here is a snapshot:

Final words

Over the 40 or so interviews I’ve conducted so far, all of them were different - in some way - because discussions took great importance.

Remember to make your applicant comfortable all way long. The icebreaker is crucial. Then, I always start by listing the interview steps - usually lasting for one hour, not too long or short. I start with my name and role, present the company’s business activities and then link with my IT department and team when possible.

Then, I let the applicant introduce himself, and right after, we discuss his past experiences. The goal is to understand the role he played in these missions. In the meantime, I’m asking my questions to sound natural and much more like a chat than an examination!

Be kind and empathic; everyone’s story is different.

Also, don’t use my questions matrix if you cannot discuss the answers.

I hope you’ll enjoy this post!

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