I help startups to build their engineering team from day 1, so in most cases, there is no HR or interview process. I can’t count how many times I was unprepared to interview an engineer. 

One of the most impactful phrases I’ve heard from a founder friend was: “I think I hired the wrong team.”

You are busy, you have an interview in 10 minutes, and you don’t have any script. What do you do? It helps me to focus the interview around these four areas:

  1. Culture fit: do you see this person playing nicely with your team? how do you feel about talking with her/him?
  2. Main skill: if you can’t tell the main candidate’s skill, that’s a red flag.
  3. Red flags: While asking questions, pay extra attention to red flags. This area is 100% gut feeling; writing down any red flags to review them after the interview will pay off.
  4. Learning: are you learning something new from the candidate? If you do, that’s a good sign.

Formulate your questions around these four areas. As you interview more engineers, you can formalize them and turn them into your first hiring interview process.


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Leo Celis