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The "Candidate Experience" Lesson is part of the full, Enterprise Engineering Management 102 course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Ryan discusses the importance of providing a positive candidate experience during the hiring process. He emphasizes the need for transparency, timely communication, setting clear expectations, and providing feedback to candidates. The value of networking and building connections is covered, even when there are no immediate job openings.


Transcript from the "Candidate Experience" Lesson

>> All right, we kind of touched a little bit on this but think about the candidate experience. Says a lot about your company and you as a manager, your team, the candidate should absolutely be evaluating you. There's a lot of jobs out there, why do they wanna come work with you?

And oftentimes, I actually like when I'm interviewing someone and they have five other opportunities that they're interviewing for. The way I think about it is, I don't need to try and overly prescriptively convince them that my team is the best one and you need to come to there.

It's I want them to opt into what's best for them. And if it is us, that's great. It's gonna be more successful and so I wanna provide a great candidate experience, I wanna be transparent. Responding in a timely fashion. I gotta admit, I feel this one I'm probably not the best at I think every one of us isn't.

Because when you're the candidate and you're interviewing somewhere, you wanna hear back as soon as possible. But there's things internally that are slowing you down. That person's not the most top of mind thing. You are trying to hire but you still have your team, you still have project meetings, there's still work going on or you are waiting on feedback from other people who are busy.

So you wanna think about this is, how can I be responding? And maybe it is, I'm still waiting on some feedback, I was hoping to come back to you sooner, haven't forgotten about you but staying in communication with people goes a long way. Let candidates know who they're meeting, right?

Who are they meeting? They can look them up on LinkedIn, that's awesome. Actually, even on my job descriptions I've often put, who are some of the team members? You kinda good to know that, it's nice to kind of be transparent get some of those insights into people ahead of time.

You are prepared, I'm meeting with the VP of engineering, all right, what's the conversation gonna look like? That's a little bit different than someone who's on the team, what types of questions should I ask them? That's really nice to help a candidate. Be very explicit, clear, set clear timelines and expectations.

We talked a little bit about that even just in doing a technical exercise. Do you have to have it completely polished, could it be pseudocode? Does it have to be fully working, what are you looking, what are you evaluating for, does it have to have tests, right? Yeah, call it out, just be clear on that.

And it really helps people show their best work and sometimes it may not meet the bar and that's okay but at least you're setting them up for success. Let candidates know what you're evaluating. You don't have to be really specific on this, but yeah, you're, I want you to be able to communicate your skills in this way.

Or I'm gonna be evaluating how you partner with the rest of the team or how you collaborate, that's an important skill set that we need on this team. And so we will be evaluating that. Even when I'm interviewing for other teams, I called out the partnership example cuz I feel that's what I'm always thrown on as a partner of other teams.

And I start my interviews of going, I'm evaluating for partnerships. We're gonna be talking about how you collaborate with a team like mine and how you think about that, and I'm just explaining what I'm even gonna be asking questions on. I also even say leaving time for questions, right?

When you're interviewing people, we've all been there, we're we have one minute left, what kind of questions do you have for me?
>> That's not a great candidate experience. So I've oftentimes called it out at the start where I'm we're gonna talk for about 30 minutes and then I'm gonna watch time, the last 10, 15 minutes you can ask me questions.

Sometimes it's not perfect but I like to try and hit the ten mark and I will stop my questions if I have to just to give people that time. I also evaluate the questions that I'm asked. So I think it is a valuable thing and it's helpful for the candidate.

I think we just came up a little bit earlier, but provide options for the technical exercise. People prefer certain things, don't throw them off their game, live coding it can be a daunting thing. Not everyone's all for it. How many times do you live code and your work today as an engineer, you're not doing that.

So you're already in a bit different environment interviewing. So what can you do to just try and help people really be able to show up as their best self? Close out with candidates. I know sometimes this can be hard. If they've interviewed with you, please, please close out with them.

If they've applied, not all companies obviously can get back to everyone just because you applied that you weren't a fit. Some companies are good about it, some are not. But I definitely think if they've spent the time talking with you and you're not wanting to move forward, close out with them.

And then this one for some reason is a little bit of a spicy topic is providing feedback. Some companies say that they legally don't wanna do that and that it can get them in trouble, I've heard all sorts of stories around that. But I think it's so important to provide a candidate feedback, what could they have done better?

What were you looking for that they maybe just didn't do great on? I see this because they've spent time to interview with you and your company, feedback as a gift. It helps people get better. And not only that, I think it's helpful for you and your company, is I've seen this at Netflix, where I've interviewed someone, they were good, maybe just not the right time.

They needed to grow in some areas. I gave them feedback, a year or two later, they come back to me. I have an open role and they want to interview again. That's awesome, they've gotten some feedback to work on that. And those candidates that I've talked to, I'm cool, I look at my notes, I'm I gave you feedback that you need to do x, y, and z.

What's changed, how have you grown in that area? So it's helpful for me too, but it's also helpful for that candidate. All right, kind of the recap of different things that I think about building a candidate experience. I'm curious on the audience, what are things that you would like to see or would make, maybe it's things you've experienced where a company's done something for you that you're, wow, that was awesome, a great experience.

What are things that could be better? I don't think I covered them all so.
>> The timely feedback is one that a lot of people miss, I miss on it too. It's so hard to there's so many other things going on as an engineering manager that you just forget.

So it's really you have to have a lot of empathy and being, they don't know everything that's going on, the processes, you may have paperwork going.
>> Yep.
>> So really have to put in a lot of effort to do that. The feedback one, I do it. But it takes so much time to write feedback for people because earlier my career when I was hiring I didn't filter the feedback from the team even on technical stuff.

And it's copy paste it. And then it ended up a long argument with someone.
>> Yep.
>> I did this, and this and this. So lesson learned there was just, I have to filter the feedback and be, what's the overall themes? I don't copy paste specific things that people said cuz they can take the wrong way cuz they don't know me or the team.

But that takes time.
>> Yep. I tried to give it back but I understand why companies are hesitant to provide feedback cuz some people are just gonna argue with you and you're, look, I'm trying to help you. It's already a no, so you're not gonna argue your way back in but.

>> [LAUGH]
>> It's such a balance. Yeah, people are tricky bit to deal with, especially during interviews.
>> I like that you called that out. And I'm granted, I've definitely made similar mistakes where I've shared the feedback, and it hasn't landed well. And I've gotten better at how I share that.

But also, I think feedback is important. Definitely is an important factor is to be able to give feedback but also you want people to be able to receive feedback. We're all growing, we're all learning. That's an important factor and so Gem in that case where someone's arguing with you or dismissive or those types of things, it's pretty telling.

I'm yeah, this now the true colors to come out and so maybe I don't revisit that candidate two years from now or a year or whatever, because that's an important skill set. And, or maybe I still revisit, but I'm gonna be bringing that up as, you weren't great at being able to receive feedback.

It wasn't a productive conversation.
>> And people forget we have candidate tracking systems where we keep records of these things.
>> Yeah.
>> So we look it up later, and I think people don't remember that. We keep a very long record of what people said and how they acted and if they didn't get the job, it pops up later and we're, no.

Cuz I see what Ryan wrote about them three years ago. And I can see if that changed, but some things just really hard to get past if they haven't evolved.
>> Yeah, I think there's a hand here.
>> Yeah, I was just gonna mention, when you were talking about setting clear timelines, specifically during interview, let's say we've got a phone call that's scheduled for 60 or 90 minutes or whatever.

I always ask if they have a hard stop or be clear that I have a hard stop if I do because sometimes the conversation is really, really great. And we're both asking great follow up questions, probing questions, learning more about one another. So it's nice to know if you got an extra five, eight minutes to bleed over.

>> I like that, yeah, just even calling that upfront and asking that question. Another thing sometimes too is oftentimes we'll do this on, especially the early phone calls or things that maybe it's a little different now when it's a scheduled Zoom call. It feels a little different but I'd often say, is now still a good time?

>> Yep.
>> Maybe something happened that they're actually, no. [LAUGH] I had this on my calendar and didn't wanna decline or not show up. But it's, yeah maybe they're not in the right headspace for some reason then that might be a good thing which I can-
>> My dog just puked on the rug and now I need to, sorry, can I call you back in 10 minutes

>> Yeah and that you're gonna be, well actually that might not work for me but let's reschedule and things that are really helpful. It's those little things that can go a long way, I think, Jeff.
>> I mean it kind of but it was more so, I mean I had an interview where we had technical difficulties and it ended up just working out where we both were allowed to or had time after.

So, instead of rescheduling, we just did it and we just went along.
>> Yep.
>> And I think in both cases, all a lot of these, it's just communicating clearly and not holding that against someone and then-
>> Sure.
>> Transparency.
>> Transparency, yeah.
>> Transparency is huge, yeah.

All right, my favorite thing, networking. You should always be networking, and this is so easy to forget, but yeah, you're hiring, right? You're manager, you're gonna be hiring at some point in time. And you may not have an open role on your team, that's okay. Talk with people, and it's easy.

I think Mark's question from someone on the chat is, how much time should you be doing? This is hard, I have many other things I should be doing. This is not a priority if I don't have a role. But I wanna be doing something and building those connections.

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