How I conduct technical interviews, with the question matrix

Enterprise context and my role

First of all, I would like to say that my role is limited to conduct technical interviews in every recruitment process.

I began to do this in 2016 when I was working as an IT/software architect for a retailer on its e-commerce platforms.
At that moment, I was also in charge of the hosting and the middleware re-unified team. I was lucky because this team was composed of experienced, autonomous, and accountable people.
Working next to them was exciting! But things became a bit tricky when I had to both 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).
Annnd I was new at interviewing people, so I’ve started to write down technical questions as a baseline so that I couldn’t miss any important point that would be key in the success of the mission.

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, in some way, really linked to the Java world because of its omnipresence in the IT departments I have been working in.

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

Also, it happened that people being able to answer just a few questions was OK to me because these particular questions were best matching 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.

Don’t forget to make your applicant comfortable all way long. The ice breaker is crucial. Then, I always start by listing the interview steps - usually lasting for one hour, not too long, not too short. I first start with my name and role, present the company’s business activities and then try to 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, of course, don’t use my questions matrix if you cannot discuss the answers.

I hope you’ll enjoy this post!

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