Attending an interview tends to be a scary, nerve-wracking event for most, me included. It’s like college exam 2.0 – you don’t do anything building up to the event, panic & do a splash and dash the previous night(though in my case, it’s more like “ah, fahgettaboutit”), start wondering and worrying what’s about to be asked prior to the event, with your mind racing about – “what if x comes, oh shit I forgot about y”, the big moment where you stammer, blabber and spit out something and then keep worrying till the results are out.

Last week, I got a call from the HR team asking if I’d be available and willing to come to office on Saturday. The reason? We had a weekend hiring drive and they wanted me(among others) to be an interviewer. My first reaction was – “mm okaaay but I’ve never done this before”(though never is not true, I did take up an interview, but that was for my team & was more of accompany-the-project-leads-and-ask-a-few-questions). This case, however, was different. It’d be a face-to-face interview. With people willing to join the organization. I decided to say Ok. Hey, it’d be a different experience.

Some time later, I realized that I needed to prepare – you don’t want an Interviewer who goes blank in front of a candidate!  Now deciding what to prepare, how to prepare was a challenge. The candidates I was to interview would be having a work experience of about 1-2yrs – and at that stage most candidates would barely know anything.  After speaking to few colleagues and friends I decided to prepare a “set list” of topics to talk about.

Come Saturday, I started for office, reaching at 10:00, even though I’d been asked to come only at 10:30. At first sight, there were a lot of people – I’d say about 100-or so. Some time later, most of the other Interviewers came in. I met the other Oracle interviewers. The candidates had to undergo a written test first, followed by a communication round.

The candidates who cleared both were sent into the lion’s pit – to us. For most candidates – I started off by asking them to tell me about themselves – the intention is to figure out how well they can speak. After this, I asked about what they did in their earlier workplace – the intention being to try to understand what work they’ve done so far. Most candidates spun tall tales about doing x,y, z and so on. Finally, I asked them how much they would rate themselves in their skill sets. Once again, most candidates rated themselves as 4/5 in most.

Once I started interviewing them, however, I ended up sighing and face palming so many times, I lost count. I had a candidate who’d mugged up their entire project source code & when I asked for a simple query, much like writing an exam, come out the vomit of their mugged up program – including front end validation which I’d never asked for – neither would work when run on the database! There was another candidate, who claimed to have almost 2 years of experience, but didn’t know a bit of database triggers, or transactions/commits/rollbacks. Probing a little deeper indicated what I had inferred when interviewing them – all paper experience with nil real world application. Most of the other panelists had the same experience.

In the end, I interviewed 4 candidates, taking an average of about 40 minutes per candidate & ended up rejecting 2. Overall it was an interesting experience. Would definitely take up the opportunity again.