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Interviewing

Benoit

Jul 11, 2012
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Attn: Guys/gals who would consider themselves in any way experienced in the Real World (i.e. postgrads :p ). There's not really another place to put this, but I was wondering if I could get a little advice.

I'm to be involved in an interviewing panel for a major electronics project, where I am the only one on said panel with even a basic understanding of electronic hardware. Which isn't a big deal in itself! The problem is that I have a feeling I'll be trying to eke out important qualities of the candidates, but rather than asking the right questions, I'll be describing what I want and they'll just kind of "nod along".

SO I guess my question is: How do you interview someone for a position without accidentally handing it to them?

To get the gist of my experience interviewing people, please look up the definition of "none".
 

Harald Kapp

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Nov 17, 2011
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Ask "open" questions, i.e. questions that require the candidate to express his opinion or knowledge by himself.

Example:
Do not ask: Would you use a relay or a transistor to switch this load?
Do ask: How would you switch this load.

The first question is a closed question. No only do you hand down alternatives to the candidate (relay, transistor), you also exclude any thinking along aother ways.
The second question is open. It requires the candidateto think about the load, possible ways and to switch it.

You can also get a feeling about the thoroughness of thougt on the candidate's side by deliberately omitting information.
Using again above example, ask: How would you switch an electric motor.
Since there are lots of different kinds of motor, there are also lots of possible solutions. All have in common that you need to know more about the motor. If you get a quick answer, it is likely the candidate hasn't well thought about the question. If you get a return question, asking for more details, the candidate is aware of the multitude of possibilities and that he needs more information to answer the question.
It is very likely that you can expect better reasoning from the latter candidate also later during the project phase.

Unfortunately, these tips require some knowledge on the part of the interviewer (you) to be able to ask the right questions and to wisely judge the answers. Otherwise a good actor could tell you fairy tales and you wouldn't know it.

My advice: try to get someone with good electronics knowledge to assist you in the interviews.

Here's some stuff that may help you in a very general way.
 

Benoit

Jul 11, 2012
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Our main electronics guy is based out of office, so we have to make do with myself for the time being. Thanks for the response and information, Harald!
 

Benoit

Jul 11, 2012
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Jul 11, 2012
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Can you Skype him?

I hadn't thought of that, but I'm afraid we're in very different timezones. Plus, I'm out of office right up until the interviews. I will look into it though, it'd be worth it to get even a little bit of insight. Thanks Kris!
 

Benoit

Jul 11, 2012
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Jul 11, 2012
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Hey guys, just to let you know, the interviews went well. I wasn't the bumbling mess I thought I was going to be (well, I did trip over a few words)!

In the end, my boss just split a sheaf of questions between the panel members and we went at it with that, he wanted to ask fairly specific C and firmware-building-related questions.

Thanks for the advice regardless!
 
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