Author Topic: Technical screener/interview - asking for feedback?  (Read 492 times)

jeromedawg

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Technical screener/interview - asking for feedback?
« on: September 22, 2020, 12:57:47 PM »
Hey all,

Had a technical screener last week and just heard back today that the hiring team doesn't want to proceed due to it not being a "strong enough match" despite having a strong background.

Is it too much to ask for feedback or more specifics on what exactly wasn't a "strong enough match" or is that overstepping? I am curious because I thought the position could be a great fit based on the stuff I've worked on previously and what they were asking for in the job description (else I wouldn't have applied...)

Thoughts?

bacchi

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Re: Technical screener/interview - asking for feedback?
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2020, 01:10:18 PM »
Sure, why not? Ask what you can improve on to get this type of position in the future.

Worst case -- and most likely case -- is they ignore you.

ctuser1

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Re: Technical screener/interview - asking for feedback?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2020, 07:35:12 AM »
You are unlikely to get any answer from the HR people. They are concerned about liability.

You may have a slightly better chance with the actual technical screener himself (assuming that was not a HR guy reading a Q&A script).

Although, even that is unlikely. I have always been instructed by HR to never give any feedback like this.

-------

The best possible course of action during any job interviews is, of course, to turn the interview itself into a discussion. Learn exactly what they are trying to achieve and advise them impartially on exactly what kind of profile would meet their needs best and if yours match that and what it would take for you to improve your skillsets to their requirement on the job.

i.e. Go from a job seeker to a traditional consultant engaging in a valuable discussion.

Now, gaining enough trust to do the above is not easy at all. I was able to drive 3 out of my last 10 job interviews to that direction. Of course, if someone like Linus Torvalds went in for an "interview" - he will likely start in that "consultant" mode always!! For a non-genius like myself, however, 3 out of 10 isn't bad at all.

It will require soft skills on top of having technical skills. Technical skills are of course under your control. And the good news is, I was able to develop the soft skills! If you knew me when I was in college then you would understand how much of a miracle that is. So it should be possible!

jeromedawg

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Re: Technical screener/interview - asking for feedback?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2020, 05:09:34 PM »
You are unlikely to get any answer from the HR people. They are concerned about liability.

You may have a slightly better chance with the actual technical screener himself (assuming that was not a HR guy reading a Q&A script).

Although, even that is unlikely. I have always been instructed by HR to never give any feedback like this.

-------

The best possible course of action during any job interviews is, of course, to turn the interview itself into a discussion. Learn exactly what they are trying to achieve and advise them impartially on exactly what kind of profile would meet their needs best and if yours match that and what it would take for you to improve your skillsets to their requirement on the job.

i.e. Go from a job seeker to a traditional consultant engaging in a valuable discussion.

Now, gaining enough trust to do the above is not easy at all. I was able to drive 3 out of my last 10 job interviews to that direction. Of course, if someone like Linus Torvalds went in for an "interview" - he will likely start in that "consultant" mode always!! For a non-genius like myself, however, 3 out of 10 isn't bad at all.

It will require soft skills on top of having technical skills. Technical skills are of course under your control. And the good news is, I was able to develop the soft skills! If you knew me when I was in college then you would understand how much of a miracle that is. So it should be possible!

I felt the conversation flowed pretty well. I spoke with the technical recruiter directly btw but yea it might have been scripted. It sounded like she had a checklist to go off of and I answered her questions pretty well and with plenty of detail. But I guess it wasn't good enough. As far as finding out more of the need, when I started asking her more specifics about the group, team and their methodologies, she just deferred with "those are questions for the hiring manager, etc"

In this case, I feel like the hiring manager just passed me up based on something he assumed I was lacking that wasn't in the job description (it was a pretty short and concise job description, of which I feel I qualified for). A friend of mine said that they very well could be far enough along with other candidates to where they don't want to go through it again unless it's really worth while for them, and I guess I wasn't compelling enough. He told me that he was interviewing at another large company and they told him he wasn't a good fit only to hear back from them 1-2 months later to continue the process lol.
Thinking about it more, the server app is Windows-based and I historically have more experience with Linux based server apps, so they may have seen that from my background and immediately thought that it wouldn't be a great fit...? Tough to know but also hard to figure out what they are wanting if they can't give any other details. I would think, at the very least, the hiring manager would have entertained a 5 minute discussion before shoving it in my face LOL. Also, and maybe I've just gotten lucky, but in the past when referred by someone who works at the company I've usually always received a call from the hiring manager even after the initial tech recruiter/screener call. In fact, speaking of the 5 minute sorry it's not going to work call, I had one of those with a hiring mgr somewhere I interviewed a while back where a friend referred me haha. So I thought it was partially 'courtesy' on their part. But yea, I'm honestly confused about what it was that wasn't a "strong enough match"

Anyway, not expecting a response back and will move on. This one sounded promising but I guess I have to remember that it's a numbers game. I just feel a bit pigeon-holed where I'm at now. Not many opportunities for career growth and I've just been thinking a lot of about a career switch but have no idea into what field haha.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2020, 05:20:54 PM by jeromedawg »

secondcor521

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Re: Technical screener/interview - asking for feedback?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2020, 09:48:47 PM »
Sounds to me like you failed at the technical screen.  It likely was the technical recruiter's decision, and you either (a) failed to demonstrate that you could meet some job expectation she had, or (b) you were a marginal match for this position and they found several other strong contenders.  Although if it were the latter, I think the company would probably string you along in case none of the strong contenders worked out.

At the technical screener level, it's usually more about X, Y, Z skills and less about conversation flow and how you get along.
 Although the technical screener sometimes is a member of the team and if they aren't able to get along with you in the technical screen then they can urge a veto, and if they're a team lead they can almost ensure a veto.

I doubt the hiring manager had much input, honestly.  Hiring managers are usually very busy people, so they delegate what they can to the HR people and the technical screener, and unless they knew you personally they would be unlikely to override the technical screener's opinion.  If you were right on the edge, I can imagine the hiring manager discussing whether or not to continue with the technical screener maybe.  But usually the hiring manager would say to the tech screener, find me 3 or 5 strong candidates for me to interview or to bring onsite for a full interview, and then leave it up to them.

I would also say that often the job descriptions aren't excellent, and the tech screener probably asked the hiring manager what they were looking for and needed, and then added questions to their list based on that.  So the job description may have listed X, Y, Z skillset which you have, but the hiring manager also wants A, B, C skillset, which the tech screener asked you about in addition to X, Y, Z.  Maybe you didn't demonstrate that you had C skillset.  Sometimes C can be a soft skill like negotiation or leadership or customer facing experience.  One throwaway question about "Did you ever talk much with customers in your job?" and a "Not much." and you could be done, especially if there are stronger candidates out there.  Or it could have been the Windows/Linux thing, depending on how you answered it - if you just said flat out that you hadn't done Windows, then that would have been less ideal than "No, but I've been studying Windows app stuff on my own" or "No, but I'm a quick learner and really motivated to succeed".  (Maybe that's too basic and you already know that - if so, apologies.)

It was never common in my experience to have the hiring manager do a "5 minute not gonna work out" courtesy call.  More commonly, you're just told what the next steps in the process will be if you make it, and if you don't, then crickets and maybe a form letter from corporate HR when the position is filled by someone else.  So your experience so far in that regard strikes me as unusual.  Because it's unusual, I would suggest not taking it personally if you don't get that phone call...just move on to the next opportunity.

(I was an R&D hiring manager for five years at a Fortune 500 tech company, and I also worked as an engineer in R&D at two Fortune 500 tech companies and a number of smaller places for about 17 years before that.  Been FIREd for about 4 years now.)

jeromedawg

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Re: Technical screener/interview - asking for feedback?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2020, 10:17:08 PM »
Sounds to me like you failed at the technical screen.  It likely was the technical recruiter's decision, and you either (a) failed to demonstrate that you could meet some job expectation she had, or (b) you were a marginal match for this position and they found several other strong contenders.  Although if it were the latter, I think the company would probably string you along in case none of the strong contenders worked out.

At the technical screener level, it's usually more about X, Y, Z skills and less about conversation flow and how you get along.
 Although the technical screener sometimes is a member of the team and if they aren't able to get along with you in the technical screen then they can urge a veto, and if they're a team lead they can almost ensure a veto.

I doubt the hiring manager had much input, honestly.  Hiring managers are usually very busy people, so they delegate what they can to the HR people and the technical screener, and unless they knew you personally they would be unlikely to override the technical screener's opinion.  If you were right on the edge, I can imagine the hiring manager discussing whether or not to continue with the technical screener maybe.  But usually the hiring manager would say to the tech screener, find me 3 or 5 strong candidates for me to interview or to bring onsite for a full interview, and then leave it up to them.

I would also say that often the job descriptions aren't excellent, and the tech screener probably asked the hiring manager what they were looking for and needed, and then added questions to their list based on that.  So the job description may have listed X, Y, Z skillset which you have, but the hiring manager also wants A, B, C skillset, which the tech screener asked you about in addition to X, Y, Z.  Maybe you didn't demonstrate that you had C skillset.  Sometimes C can be a soft skill like negotiation or leadership or customer facing experience.  One throwaway question about "Did you ever talk much with customers in your job?" and a "Not much." and you could be done, especially if there are stronger candidates out there.  Or it could have been the Windows/Linux thing, depending on how you answered it - if you just said flat out that you hadn't done Windows, then that would have been less ideal than "No, but I've been studying Windows app stuff on my own" or "No, but I'm a quick learner and really motivated to succeed".  (Maybe that's too basic and you already know that - if so, apologies.)

It was never common in my experience to have the hiring manager do a "5 minute not gonna work out" courtesy call.  More commonly, you're just told what the next steps in the process will be if you make it, and if you don't, then crickets and maybe a form letter from corporate HR when the position is filled by someone else.  So your experience so far in that regard strikes me as unusual.  Because it's unusual, I would suggest not taking it personally if you don't get that phone call...just move on to the next opportunity.

(I was an R&D hiring manager for five years at a Fortune 500 tech company, and I also worked as an engineer in R&D at two Fortune 500 tech companies and a number of smaller places for about 17 years before that.  Been FIREd for about 4 years now.)

So I spoke with her last Thurs (17th) and after we talked she told me that she was going to bring her "notes" back to the hiring manager to discuss and that I'd hear back on Monday or Tuesday because she expected to get in touch with him at that point in time. I got word back on Tuesday. So it does sound like I might have been "on the fence" and after further discussion with the hiring manager, they felt like it wasn't going to work out. I'm guessing this might have been what happened with my friend at his company, and when the other candidates fell through, they revisited with him.

Now that I recall, there was some discussion about customers but that was specifically regarding my last position which is the only thing she asked about in that regard. What's odd is that this is for a QA position, so to me that's a little strange if they actually want someone in QA directly interfacing with customers LOL - in my experience, that's generally a no-no. It might be more the Agile thing since it sounds like that's what they're currently operating under but I did say that the current company is moving that direction and I had some exposure to it at the last place. But even then, I would think something like one's experience working in an Agile vs Waterfall environment might be a secondary type issue that shouldn't really be a showstopper to moving forward with a qualified candidate (I might be mistaken though... it has been a while since I've interviewed lol)
But yea, based on what you were saying and the way things went it does sound like they were on the fence with me (due to the time it took to get back). I would think that if I wasn't a good fit (per the recruiter), she likely would have let me know either at the end of that call or pretty soon after. A few days is kind of a long time though, isn't it?

In any case, FIREing sounds good too. I'm contemplating the idea of it and moving to a Lower COL area (currently Vancouver WA has been on the mind). If we do that, I may just try to ride the current position out for as long as possible until I'm let go. Once our kids are older, my wife may actually want to go back to work too. But yea, like I said, I have no idea what I'd do for another career path if I were to get out of QA/InfoSec.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2020, 10:22:02 PM by jeromedawg »

secondcor521

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Re: Technical screener/interview - asking for feedback?
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2020, 01:03:03 AM »
I always took interview notes and I never ever told the candidate at the end of the interview my decision regarding their application.  This was true whether I was the hiring manager, the technical screener, on the interview team, or whatever.  I always thought it was worth taking time after the interview to reflect, and carefully and objectively evaluate each person relative to the position and to make sure my decisions were - to the extent I could - professional and job based.  I didn't want to make any snap judgments.  I always considered hiring to be one of the most important things to get as right as possible.

A few days?  At my last company most job interview processes easily lasted a month or two, so no, a few days wouldn't be a long time.

Having done Agile and waterfall before that, depending on what you mean by QA, I don't really think they're all that different from the QA perspective.  But sometimes it's a "drink the koolaid" kind of thing for a while, and it can get weird so if they thought you weren't on board or would be resistant to Agile that definitely could have been a showstopper in their mind - rightly or wrongly.  I do think over the long haul Agile and test-driven development (TDD) - which are often used together - will become the norm.  Depending on how much time you have left on your career clock, I'd definitely learn about them if you haven't already.

The "customer facing" was just an example.  Something I did in my last job and I really liked and thought I was good at (they let me keep doing it, anyway!) and just an example of something that some people are simply not good at that a position might need.