Saturday, May 15, 2004


Guidelines for for fresh candidates

1) Make the candidate feel comfortable. Spend the
first couple of minutes discussing about things like
the weather, today's cricket score, etc. Remember that
the candidate is likely to be under considerable
duress and this might bring his performance below his
normal level. Ask him to take a sip of water/tea, etc.

2) The above aspect must not be carried too far. The
interview must not be a honeymoon for the candidate!
Ask some tough questions also. Keep the candidate
active and alert.

3) It is always better to begin the interview with
simple questions, preferably about his project work,
or about some technical aspect mentioned in his
resume. This will ensure better chances of getting him
to talk on something he knows.

4) The key idea here is to assess what the candidate
knows, rather than what he does not know. So questions
should be directed at this end. It is better not to
get too many "I don't know" answers from the

5) The following points are to be assessed about the

Does he have a grasp of his own branch of engineering?
This can be used to judge his past ability to learn.
You don't have to be a professional in his branch of
engineering. Just follow his logic and the way he
presents his points. See if they make sense. Remember
- an engineer's understanding of his subject can be
assessed by his ability to present his ideas in a
manner in which the layperson can comprehend.
Does he show ability for logical thinking or is his
thinking abrupt and incoherent? (Note the way in which
he switches from one topic to the next)
Is he able to express himself clearly?
How deep is his knowledge base? This can be assessed
by gradually increasing the toughness of the questions
asked on a particular subject until he says "I don't
know" at least twice.
If you ask him to write code for a particular
application, it is better to analyze his approach to
the problem rather than syntax. Remember that most of
the candidates would have had very brief exposure to
languages like C in their curriculum. Most colleges do
not even provide sufficient practical hands-on
training. Also ensure that the candidate has not
memorized the code!
When you present him with a question to which he does
not know the answer, how much interest does he show in
learning the answer?
How much of self-learning (that is, learning outside
the college cirriculum) has he done?

6) To some extent he must know English. If he cannot
construct even the simplest of sentences in English,
it is better to keep him away. (Otherwise, we'll have
to end up doing all the documentation for his code!)

7) Unless the candidate claims knowledge about out
products, refrain from asking him anything about our
products or the ideas behind their design, etc.

8) Be encouraging. Talk to him like a friend, not like
a head master. When the candidate says anything that
seems to make sense, say "good" or something similar.
When he does not know the answer, tell him something
like "never mind" and get on to the next question.
Remember, our evaluation will in no way be affected by
being friendly to him. It is wise not to depress a
candidate in the interview itself.

9) Be a little more forgiving towards engineers in
non-computer / non-electronics related fields (like
Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, etc.)

10) It is better to leave the "What is your expected
salary?" question to the personal interviewer.

11) The interview schedule will be announced in
advance. The interviewers will be better organized if
they spend just a few minutes among themselves and
decide to ask questions on different areas.
Overlapping should be avoided. This is very important
for three reasons-

We can get much more info about a candidate in the
two-three hours we spend with him.
When the second interviewer questions him about the
same things the first interviewer talked about, the
candidate will be better prepared in answering him.
This will lead to different evaluations by the two
It'll become very obvious to the candidate that we are
not well coordinated and may lead him to think we are

12) Watch for the following:
Does the candidate think before answering? It is
desirable in most cases that the candidate does not
launch into a lengthy narration whenever a question is
asked. Look for signs that the candidate has not
memorized his answers. The flip side is that the
candidate should not take too much time in answering
even simple questions!
How many questions does the candidate ask you about
our company/products, etc.?
Is the candidate able to talk at length on a technical
topic without your help?
Is the candidate honest? If he doesn't know something,
is he humble enough to accept it or does he try to
bluff his way out?
In case you find the candidate bluffing, do not call
his bluff. It will only lead to arguments. Keep it in
mind and put it on the comment sheet. Most probably he
will get a "No hire" decision anyway!

13) Composure: Does the candidate confront the
questions confidently or does he get all tensed up
whenever a question is asked? This is important
because it is an indirect reflection of his ability to
think under some pressure.

14) Above all, put up the most professional show
possible. Remember that he will spread word about our
company to a lot of people. Let's ensure he says
something good about us, even if we don't give him a