John Boring, eremedia 13 Jul 2016 Viewed 1353 Times Viewed by 893 people

During a job interview, digging into a candidate’s technical depth is just as important as determining cultural fit.


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A CTO of a small, fast-paced Silicon Valley firm created job responsibilities for a senior technical professional he wanted to hire.

 The responsibilities looked like this:

  • Develop and refine specification of the micro- circuitry for the digital          architecture
  • Analyze performance, power and area tradeoffs, and make                      implementation choices
  • Work with Architecture and Design teams to ensure micro-circuitry and    design is fully verified/validated across multiple platforms
  • Implement, verify, and validate the design an FPGA platform
  • Once validated, lead the design efforts to and verify the design in              silicon
  •  Is in tune with industry trends and contributes to consistent roadmap        decisions

 Once he had decided on these responsibilities, he was asked what type of questions he would ask to determine if a person could accomplish these responsibilities. He then turned each one of them into a behavioral interview question.

 Base the Behavioral Interview Questions on the Technical Responsibilities

To do that, one must first understand the structure of the behavioral interview question. It starts with knowing how to design a request for information in such a way that the candidate has to look into their past experience for the answer.

To create a question out of any job responsibility, add an introduction to a situation related to that responsibility.

How did he do that?

1) The beginning or introduction

This is most often a phrase like:

·         Tell me about a time when …

·         Tell me about how …

·         Give me an example of …

·         Describe for me ho …

 

2) The situation

  • Develop and refine specification of the micro-circuitry for the digital         architecture
  • Analyze performance, power and area tradeoffs, and make              implementation choices
  •   Work with Architecture and Design teams to ensure micro-circuitry    and design is fully verified/validated across multiple platforms
  • Implement, verify, and validate the design an FPGA platform
  • Once validated, lead the design efforts and verify the design in        silicon
  • Is in tune with industry trends and contributes to consistent             roadmap decisions

 

By combining these two elements, the CTO was quickly able to construct the following questions:

·         Walk me through a time when you developed specifications of the micro-circuitry for the digital architecture.

·         Give me an example of when you have had to analyze performance, power and area tradeoffs, and make implementation choices

·         Tell me about a time when you have had to work with Architecture and Design teams to ensure micro-architecture and design is fully verified/validated across multiple platforms

·         Give me an example of a time when you have implemented, verified, and validated the design of an FPGA platform

·         Tell me about a time when once validated, you led the design efforts and verified a design in silicon

·         Describe for me how you stay in tune with industry trends and advances

 

Dig Deeper for More Information

When I asked my friend how effective he felt his questions were, he said they usually get him most of the information he is looking for. However, with a candidate who is not particularly talkative, he might have to dig for more information.

He does this by asking about the problems that they were facing, the actions that they took, and the results that they achieved. Otherwise known as the PAR technique.

1.    By examining the problem the candidate was facing he can more readily understand the level of complexity they can handle.

2.    By examining the actions candidates take, he can more readily understand their capabilities and willingness to take action.

3.    By examining the results the candidate has attained, he can more readily understand their orientation toward getting results and achieving goals.

After each question, he said he listens carefully for each of these three components in their answers and asks for more information about the ones he does not hear.

He uses these examples to complete his interview evaluation form.

 The Takeaway

Use the responsibilities section of the job description as a foundation for your behavioral interview questions. This can turn in any bone-dry technical interview into a useful conversation.

 

Simply combine an introduction with a technical responsibility and you will likely have a behavioral question.



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