This is the part of the interview that will differ depending on what kind of role you're hiring for. For engineers, you may want to do a pair-programming session; for sales, you might want a mock sales call. It should cover what their work will look like day-to-day (i.e., no writing code on whiteboards).
The golden rule is to ensure that these focused interviews are standardized; each candidate for the role should be asked the same questions. Otherwise, how are you to evaluate them against one another?
Make sure these interviews are focused on the outcomes and competencies of the scorecard, not some vaguely defined job description or manager’s intuition. Leave 10 minutes at the end for questions (and make sure any questions asked are included with the rest of the interview feedback—they're a valuable insight into what the candidate cares about).
Every department has a page in the wiki indicating how they do their focused interviews. For example, here's what a technical interview might look like. Each topic has standardized questions, which are detailed in our wiki.
"Recruiting isn’t about vetting as much as it is about selling...being a good interviewer takes time and effort and a fundamental willingness to get out of autopilot and engage meaningfully with the other person."
- Aline Lerner in What do the best interviewers have in common?
|Focused interview topic||Time||Notes|
|Product / Process||30 minutes||Run by someone on our product team.|
|Pair programming||2 hours||This is either backend or frontend focused.|
|Algorithm / System Design||30-60 mins||Run by a senior engineer|
Take the scorecard and group the outcomes and responsibilities it lists. Then divvy up each group to your interviewers, ensuring that they're all covered. You want to avoid having different interviewers asking the same questions to the candidate; it's both a waste of time and boring to the candidate.
Who has a good example of how to run a focused sales interview, reprinted below:
For example, let’s say you are hiring a VP of sales. The scorecard you created has four outcomes on it:
- Grow domestic sales from $500 million to $600 million by December 31, and continue growing them by 20 percent per year for the next five years.
- Maintain at least a 45 percent gross margin across the portfolio of products annually.
- "Who" the sales organization, ensuring that 90 percent or more of all new hires are A Players as defined by the sales scorecards. Achieve a 90 percent or better ratio of A Players across the team within three years through hiring and coaching. Remove all chronic C Players within ninety days of identification.
- Create a sales strategy that the CEO approves during the annual planning cycle.
In addition, let’s say you have identified six competencies that define success in the job:
- Hires A Players
- Holds people accountable
- Follows through on commitments
- Open to criticism and feedback
Try assigning three members of your team to perform focused interviews based on this scorecard. The first interviewer takes the first two outcomes and the first two competencies because they all have to do with growing sales and managing costs and the behaviors that support both. The second interviewer has the responsibility for the outcome related to Who and the two competencies having to do with how the candidate builds the team. That leaves everything else for the third interviewer.
Each interview should take forty-five minutes to one hour, depending on how many outcomes and competencies you assign to each interviewer. Regardless of the time spent, each interviewer will bring supplemental data to your decision-making process.