Episode 76: Enjoy the Interview with Laurie Barth
This week's episode is sponsored by Cloudflare Pages!
Laurie Barth, or Laurie on Tech as she is well-known in the dev industry, is a software engineer who started as a mathematician, currently working as a Senior Software Engineer at Netflix. Additionally, Laurie is a content creator and technical educator across various mediums. She is also a frequent conference speaker, speaking at events across the globe, and a technical blogger contributing to publications such as CSS Tricks, Smashing Magazine, and A List Apart, as well as an active member of the TC39 Educator's committee and a Google Developer Expert. In today’s episode, we share some of our more memorable job interview experiences, both good and bad, but mostly terrible, and we dive into how those experiences could be improved upon, starting with the company setting realistic expectations for potential candidates from the beginning. We also touch on unnecessary and unfair technical demonstrations, the value of affording candidates the option to show themselves in their best light, and the inherent biases that exist when interview panels aren’t diverse, and Laurie highlights the power that candidates actually have given the shortage of engineers making this appeal to listeners: take some of that power back! Tune in today for all this and so much more, including, of course, our weekly picks.
Key Points From This Episode:
- Laurie shares a terrible technical interview that stands out from her experience.
- Why a generic interview format very rarely makes sense for any company.
- Why companies need to set their expectations at the beginning of the interview.
- The importance of recognizing how much time it takes to develop a technical interview.
- Why you can’t steal an interview from elsewhere rather than writing one yourself.
- The value of judging what is important based on the signal a company is looking for.
- Alex talks about one of the more memorable (read: terrible) interviews he has been through.
- Ari reflects on a pair programming interview that she describes as ‘interesting’.
- The pressure that is put onto incoming developers to demonstrate their technical skills when it isn’t necessary for the role they will fill.
- Laurie emphasizes why companies should be looking for someone to augment their team.
- Why it’s not about working with people ‘smarter’ than you, but people you can learn from.
- Laurie’s frustration with the use of trivia questions and the benefits of offering candidates options to present themselves in their best light.
- Tessa’s turn to share her experience with a terrible interview that featured live UI coding.
- The disconnect that exists between hiring managers, recruiters, and candidates.
- Laurie highlights the power that candidates hold given the shortage of engineers and urges listeners to take that power back.
- What Ari calls ‘douchebag alert’ questions, how people answer, and what it says about them.
- The gender bias that typically exists when interview panels aren’t gender diverse.
- Why it’s important for team members to meet potential candidates and vice versa.
- Tessa shares the acronym, REACTO: repeat, example, approach, code, test, optimize.
- How interviews tend to cater towards those who are extroverted, outgoing, and talkative.
- Laurie highlights some positive interview experiences and what companies can do better.
- Alex shares a tip about asking the same question of everybody, such as “what is the focus of your company?”
“I want to work with people who are smarter than I am, but here's the trip: everyone is smarter than I am. It depends what the measuring stick is and what category we're talking about.” — @laurieontech [0:26:51 ]
“The goal of an interview, in my mind, should be for people to show you what they know instead of what they don't know. If you're giving people options, you are giving them the opportunity to present themselves in their absolute [best light].” — @laurieontech [0:29:59 ]
“Right now, in this moment in time, unless you are an entry level candidate, the candidates have all the power. There's such a shortage of engineers. I would like to see people taking that power back a little bit.” — @laurieontech [0:38:41 ]
“Interviews, pretty much no matter what you do, will always somewhat cater to people who are extroverted and outgoing and talkative. The only way I challenge that is I think people who can't communicate about their code at all are probably not great engineers.” — @laurieontech [0:48:47 ]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- [@laurieontech on Twitter](twitter.com/laurieontech)
- Fortnite (Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, iOS, Android)
- Wingspan (Boardgame)
- Heal & Glow Facial Serum
- How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg
Special Guest: Laurie Barth.