What 50+ ML Interviews (as an Interviewer) Have Taught Me Collaboration over scrutiny Situational awareness Write detailed feedback Be punctual Conclusion


When you thought facing a technical interview is difficult, try conducting an interview. I’m not talking concerning the awkward interviewers who left a scathing impression, watching you condescendingly, when you’re wishing for the pain to finish. I’m talking about interviewers which have left a positive impression you cherish.

Doing an interview is a large responsibility. You might be the gatekeeper for somebody’s profession. So it’s essential to do all the things in your capability to do them as much justice as you’ll be able to.

All the points I’m going to be mentioning revolve around one key value:


When you’ve mastered empathy, you most likely don’t even must read this. The whole lot I discuss listed here are my personal thoughts and opinions and don’t reflect the view of my employer.

For context, I’m a machine learning engineer and these are technical or coding interviews I’m talking about.

After reading this text, you’ll (hopefully) take away a number of lessons that may make you a greater interviewer, who leaves a positive lasting impression on the candidates (whatever the final result).

Let’s skip the apparent checks for a candidate and clear the air first:

  • Showing sound technical knowledge of the language & tools
  • Considering out loud while working through the issue
  • Being friendly and cooperative

Any of those that don’t get a tick is a priority.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

The style through which interviewers conduct the interview plays a large role on how an interview plays out. If the interviewer appears as an authoritative figure that can not be pleased in anyway, even one of the best candidates may fold and get nervous. The candidates are at their best once they have someone approachable in front of them.

A method I do that by is by making the interview almost a pair programming session, through which two of us try to get to the answer, relatively than silently (somewhat sadistically) watching every move of the candidate while they’re grimacing on the query.

I won’t lie, I used to root for “team scrutiny”. On the time, I believed a very powerful thing to judge the candidate on is to examine in the event that they can find to the answer on their very own. On the job, time-to-solution seldom depends solely in your technical knowledge. Reasonably, it’s dictated more by aspects like…

  • Knowing the appropriate inquiries to ask (from right people after all)
  • Communicating your work to date
  • Interpreting and executing someone’s hints/suggestions

Pair programming gives you a golden opportunity to check the candidate on these “soft-er” skills. So relatively than a solo effort, the pair embark on a journey, harmoniously working to get to the ultimate solution. To nudge the candidate in the appropriate direction or to interrupt the ice when stuck, I’d use phrases like “tell me what you’re considering” or “possibly start with pseudo-code”. I’m not saying it is best to hand over the answer to them, but helping them to succeed.

Not only this approach helps you to judge the candidate on a spread of hard and soft skills, this leaves the candidate with a way of accomplishment (versus leaving them out to dry, should they get stuck).

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

A key skill it’s essential to develop is just not remembering the questions by heart (although that’s necessary), but having an acute situational awareness. Every candidate is different, and each interview experience is different. As an interviewer it’s essential to give you the option to play to the tune of that unique scenario.

If the candidate appears to be nervous, smile a bit more, ask concerning the weather and allow them to know you’re here to assist if needed. If the candidate needs some personal space when solving an issue, give them that. If the candidate had technical difficulties at first of the interview, give them a little bit of time beyond regulation to make up for the lost time.

Not only you could have to do that throughout the interview, but afterwards as well. When evaluating the candidate, construct a good image of their performance by cutting through noise. Ask yourself questions like,

  • Could they’ve done a greater job in the event that they weren’t nervous?
  • Did the candidate have a cultural/language-barrier?
  • Is that this someone I’d stay up for working with?

The candidates typically get increasingly more confident/comfortable as they undergo the stages of interviews. Perhaps the candidate is having a extremely bad day! In order an interviewer, it is advisable to give you the option to chop through these and evaluate the candidate on their skills. I’m not saying it is best to completely ignore these facts. Note them and communicate them to the opposite interviewers/recruiters. But when you expect an interviewee to be at their prime all the time, you’re in for some disappointment. Remember we’re all human! And this offers us a pleasant Segway to the second point.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

That is probably the most difficult things to master as an interviewer: writing up a comprehensive and fair evaluation. Why is it difficult? Because there’s many things to judge the candidate on inside an hour or a 45-minute window together with your limited mental bandwidth. As with other things, it takes time to master this skill.

Few things that may provide help to are,

  • Use a template to take notes throughout the interview. It might be something like, for every task within the interview, what they did well and what they didn’t achieve this well. One necessary thing is have concrete examples than vague statements.
  • Undergo the feedback others have written (if you could have visibility over that)
  • Don’t postpone taking notes — be certain your notes are complete by the point you finish the interview. Otherwise, you’re ALWAYS going to forget the necessary observations you made throughout the interview.
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Being at the opposite end of the table, it’s easy to summon a way of royalty. Thoughts like, “they needs to be waiting for me to enter, not the opposite way around” may creep in. Personally, it’s more necessary that I value another person’s time the identical way they (or I) do mine.

I don’t should remind how exciting (in a horrifying way) it could possibly be just before the interview. And 99% of those candidates would be sure you join the interview on the dot. It’s only fair that I do the identical for the candidate as an interviewer.

Conducting an awesome interview is just not a science. There’s no magical recipe that’ll work all the time. Reasonably it’s based in your ability to read the situation and the candidate.

It’s necessary to take these advice/learnings with a grain of salt. They usually are not exact rules, nor there are exact measurements. For instance, I’m not saying it is best to pass a candidate only because they were nervous. But give them a second probability in the event that they got as much as 80% of the reply and you recognize that it’s been some time for them and that they were quite nervous.

Moreover, you being a “good human” may also help to make the interview a pleasing experience. Sadly, I’ve seen interviewers mocking weaknesses of candidates afterwards. An interview for many of us is a extremely stressful experience and all of us have made silly mistakes in some unspecified time in the future. So try not to try this.

Thanks for reading! I hope the following tips would provide help to to change into a greater technical interviewer!

When you enjoyed this story, be happy subscribe to Medium, and you’ll get notifications to fresh content from me, in addition to unlock full access to 1000’s of engaging stories from other authors.


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