I prefer interviews that are a conversation as opposed to me asking questions and listening to answers. I want the candidate to engage with me like they would a colleague – it shows they’re taking the process seriously and are interviewing me just as much as I am interviewing them. I love it when I leave an interview thinking “I really want them to work here, I hope we impressed them enough!”.

What I want to know about a candidate is what experiences have they had before and how they dealt with them. I want to hear about real world examples. Questions will usually take the form of “Tell me about a time that X, what did you do?”

“X” could be:

  • you had a difficult team member.
  • you had a ridiculous deadline.
  • you had some tough politics.
  • you worked with remote stakeholders.
  • things really went bad.
  • thing went really well for you and the team.
  • Etc…

Usually these will be a conversation rather than a question/answer session, but still based on the candidates actual experience as opposed to “What would you do if?”. However, it’s OK to say “Actually, I’ve never had to deal with that, but if I did, I would …”

I also want to know about actual projects themselves as I’ll be trying to get a feel for team/project size, the position of influence the candidate felt they had within the team. The language people use is important – are they talking about they/them or we/us?

I’m looking for PM style – are they command and control, or servant leader? Or somewhere in between? The language they use is as important here as the actions they took. Do they use people’s names from previous projects, or just “the developer” this is telling, although not conclusive.

Finally, I’m looking for evidence of autonomy and mastery. I want the successful candidate to be someone I can point at a problem and they’ll get on and deal with with little interaction from me.

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