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Creating an Effective Developer Interview Process

Lesson 1 of 16

Class Introduction

Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Creating an Effective Developer Interview Process

Gayle Laakmann McDowell

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

So you know, I spent a lot of time as a developer. Of course, I worked for Google and did a lot of interviewing there with on hiring committee, and it gave me a really great look there into anomaly what makes a great developer, but also how to really hire people in our these kind of Google interviews. People hear about a lot. What are they really doing, and are they effective? But I've also had a bunch of experience as a candidate. I have been there going through these interviews like Google and you, Google and Apple, Microsoft and all these other companies do, and I have had a lot of good experiences as a candidate, but I've also had a lot of bad experiences, and so that's given me this other look at what really works as faras interviewing and how it feels to be candidate. But when the other things I've done is I've done a ton of coaching with helping candidates through interviews and through my book cracking encoding interview, which is what a lot of programmers are you using for int...

erview prep. I hear a lot of candids come back and tell me about what this country did that company did and what was good and what was bad. I've also done a lot of coaching with one of things I do. That's kind of unusual. Surprising to people is I coach startups through acquisition interviews. So in startups get acquired by big tech companies, they go through interviews much like normal candidates would go through. And that's given the opportunity to normally interview the same candidate over and over and over again and really helped them prepare. But it's also giving me the opportunity to then take that feedback and take my impression that candidate and go back to their manager, the CEO and SE. This was my impression, this person to this match, the reality and I've seen in certain cases and very much does and other cases it doesn't. And so I've learned techniques to adapt to that and really kind of get underneath and figure out. What is this candidate? What can we do to assess if this candy is actually effective? Some things that I've seen you is that there's a lot of bad experiences with with hiring new hirings, I said, This is hard. There aren't that many developers out there and there aren't that many great ones out there. And you're trying to find those great ones while competing with huge companies. And there's a lot of things that make that fundamentally challenging. And there's no way, really of getting around that you can't just throw more developers into the ecosystem easily. But a lot of things the companies are also doing that are giving candidates bad experiences are hurting them in various ways. So there was a time, um, how about a year ago where I was, you know, company asked me to come in and review their hiring process, and I was sitting there with a in kind of a corner of a room while candles interviewing on He's clearly just struggling a lot. 15 20 minutes in, and it's not. I'm not sure he was actually bad, right? He really, really was just unprepared. And about 30 minutes in. Finally, he says, You know what? I did not sign up for this. I did not expect to have to co today, and he walks out, just leaves the building. And while yeah, you know you, it's easy to brush it off and say, Well, Gosh, the Candid really should have known. They clearly didn't know what they're doing. They clearly weren't serious because they didn't know that they have to walk in and do coding and coding interview at the same time. There is a fundamental issue with Why didn't this candidate no? Okay, they didn't get the interview process. Maybe you could blame them. But where was the recruiter here? What, Where? Why didn't anybody tell them that they would have to be doing these coding interviews? And even if you blame the candidate, that still doesn't get around the fact that the company kind of screwed up in some way and that now this candidate is going off in talking to his friends and saying, this company sucked Don't work there. And it's even if you didn't want that candidate, that's still a bad thing for your company. Another time you get a lot of kind of reactions. People more experience. People who write me emails that are sent here like this company treated me like I was a fresh grad, and, you know, nobody's saying that when someone says they treat me like I was a fresh grad, no one saying great. That was awesome. So glad they treated me like I was a fresh ground despite having 20 years experience. When you were saying that, that's that's revealing. Some underlying emotion about this wasn't good. This wasn't a good experience. I was treated like I was a number. They didn't value me at all, and nobody likes to feel like they're valued. Even if you think that you should hire fresh grads and senior, grab your more experienced people the exact same way, you probably don't want people walking away with that feeling. It's something you want to keep an eye out for. This is a really common one reacting your reaction somewhere along these lines, where it takes a company so long to respond to a candidate that the candid assumes that they've been rejected. And I know when I'm working with candidates, I've tried to fight back against us all the time and tell them, Look, if you are rejected, if you interview, if you actually come in an interview and you are reductive, company will tell you almost know companies just have a policy like not telling a candidate that they're rejected, right? So yeah, the candidates kind of naive in thinking this way. But again, not a good thing for your company's perspective. Why is this? Can that going two weeks without a response? Why didn't even if it's that's why is it taking two weeks, first of all, to get it to hear back? But if it's going to take two weeks, why aren't you in touch with your candidate and telling them Here's what to expect and to not think that you're gonna you can. It should never be walking by thinking that these procedures, if they rejected, they just don't find out. No, you should. You need to be educated candidates to avoid some of those things. And then, you know, this is this is an interesting one. Candidates will judge companies on the to get difficult to the question both for good and bad. And I've talked a lot of candidates who were like, you know, the questions were really easy, and I just don't think that they are hiring good people. Eso won. Things wanna look at is how are your quest, The questions you're asking actually reflecting on your you is a company, not just are they hiring and not just are the questions selecting the right people. But what is it saying? Milling about your company? And then I also here, this is this is one that kind of love. I got a lot of people who are like, thank you know, go on Amazon or write memos like Oh, thanks. Your book was awesome. I knew all the questions which, you know from my perspective, fantastic. My books really working. Um, but that's not actually a good situation. Really, I if you are pulling up my book and just saying I'm going to ask the question from this book had companies I worked with who are like, No, we're good In our interview questions, we just pull all the questions out of your book. Well, wait, my book is for candidates. If you're pulling questions from the same thing, that canister preparing with it's not really you're just really figure out who's preparing well and who's not, uh, not what you should be doing, and not only with this actually select bad people, but, you know, not really help you to select the right people. But if you're doing that, a couple candidates are often are gonna walk away thinking, Wow, this company's kind of lazy on the questions. I wasn't challenged. They just knew This is basically just a test of my knowledge of stuff. It really wasn't very useful. So you want to think about all of these things. So exactly what our goal, but we can think about our goal is, is to efficiently attract and retain the right candidates. So if we want to impact that, there's a bunch different things here. It's about consistency of a process you want. You know two identical candidates to have the same outcome. You don't want there to be variables like this candidate, and as much as you can avoid it, any way this can with having a bad day or the interviewed people who are about having a bad day, you want a process that's consistent. You want a process. It's efficient to, you know, it's hard to hire developers. And no, the more hours you're spending Teoh hire somebody the worst that is for you, the more expensive that is so not so that's reasonably efficient, that balances hiring and on really putting in the legwork to hire great people without spending access time and that's both about the amount of hours, total hours you put into hiring somebody, but also about the speed it takes, um, you to actually go through that process and then you want a company want questions in a process that's attractive? It's, You know, you can have questions that select fantastic people, but end up turning off all the good people. So you want something that's obviously attractive, that makes you look like these are people that the candidate wants to work. And then finally you want. So that's effective, right? Something is actually selecting for the good people and trying to select out as much as you can the bad people. So these are the kind of things we're going to talk about today and tell me how to attain all these things. So we're gonna talk about the process and structure of an interview process. We're gonna talk about different tools and white boards and coding assessments and all these kind of medium type things. We're gonna talk about the a lot of time on the actual questions, what questions work, how to do it and how interviewers should act to this, and then also about how to make decisions. Ultimately, my goal is to help you make a have a efficient hiring process. We want Teoh help you determine if you should have a bar Razor hiring committee of these other things. You Who does this work for? And should you have this? And how do you actually roll out something like this? And then we want you to build Teoh a select good candidates and not not the bad ones. Um, how questions that you, Lauren, had developed a good question question database to have to figure out if you should use wiper computer and then finally to ask questions that work for experience itchiness Kansas. Well, there are some differences that we're gonna talk about between fresh grads and experience graduates and how to have hiring process. That really works for both of us. Next up, we're going talk about, talked about a little bit about kind of the overall thing. We're going to talk next about overall philosophies to hiring and things you should be thinking about on. Then we talk about different components of interview laying out of structure for the hiring process, and then we're gonna go into talking about homework and some of the other kind of structural aspects. Should you be doing homework, bar raisers, hiring committees, hiring for teams, vs companies in decision making, and then that's kind of the 1st 1st couple lessons. And then we're gonna go into talking about going and dive into a lot more technical stuff about all the different types of interview questions and what is really working and what's not.

Class Description

In this workshop led by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, former Google software engineer, interviewer and the author of the bestselling book Cracking the Coding Interview, you'll be hands-on, covering all the specifics you'll need to know about coding interviews. It will start with an overview of the hiring process and dive into more detail about types of interview questions (behavioral, knowledge, algorithms/coding, and design). You will learn how to create a hiring process that is efficient, sets a high and consistent bar, and attracts strong candidates.

Although sections of the workshop will be highly technical, non-technical people are encouraged to attend. You will learn:

  • Differences between assessing senior candidates and junior candidates
  • The goals and limitations of technology-specific questions
  • Selecting and asking appropriate algorithm questions
  • Mechanisms to evaluate coding skills, including whiteboards, laptops and code assessment tools
This class is your comprehensive guide to hiring the right developer for your company. 

In Partnership with Greylock Partners 



What an awesome opportunity to learn from one of the best on the topic! This course has value for anyone who's looking to hire or work with technical talent! I've attended tons of talent conferences and this course succinctly and tactically address how to effectively interview engineers. Highly recommended.

Kevin Scott

Terrific class with unique eye opening content. This class applies for any Dev. hiring team, whether startups or large, established companies. I recommend this training tool to anyone wanting to help others improve their own interviewing skill set and build dynamic hiring processes / plans.


This class was exactly as billed - I received in depth knowledge of how to create great developer interviews. Gayle was very organized and presented her info in a dynamic, inter-active environment. It was really great to be part of the studio audience.