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I always wonder when conducting an interview why a director or VP of Engineering is involved? If a team of engineers and hiring manager want to hire a person, I don't ever see a director or VP would veto, unless the candidate said something egregious. Is this just to make the candidate feel they are valued? What's the rationale?

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Does the VP code? –  talonx Oct 14 '10 at 3:36

3 Answers 3

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Trust, but verify.

Unfortunately, middle managers may filter the feedback going up the chain from the front-line interviewers for their own purposes. Sometimes they have a quota to fill, other times they are irrationally excited by a candidate. By staying involved, the higher-ups can see the unfiltered real feedback. This is vital to keep an organization strong.

It's like when you hire a general contractor to do work on your house. You try to keep abreast of their day-to-day decisions. One of the most important of these is who THEY are hiring. You would definitely want good skilled work going into your house. Similarly, if it was my company making products with my name on it, I'd want good skilled employees.

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If I were a manager/director type, I'd like to keep vaguely in touch with the people who work for me and have some understanding of and insight into what's going on. That includes a little participation in the hiring process - doubly so since I'd ultimately be responsible for their performance and its implications on the company at large.

As a prospective employee, I'd like to get a brief introduction to the guy, since he's going to be in charge of my job, and it might behoove me to have him at least recognize me if I ever should have to talk to him, and to make sure that he's a reasonable guy. (At the interview for my current job, I talked with the CEO for a few minutes. Granted, it was a sub-50-person company at the time... but does your VP of Engineering have a department of similar size?)

Anyway, this sort of interview generally goes well at the end of the interview, and probably isn't the best place to do spectacularly in-depth technical stuff.

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I am a director level manager and I always am involved in the interview process. Being that I came up the ranks as a technical professional I often have my own set of technical questions I like to ask on top of our developer test. (We have a SQL and .NET hands on lab we require candidates to do before they even get to me).

Mostly in my piece of the interview though I'm looking for things that many engineers tend to gloss over like soft-skills and cultural fit. Does this person seem like they have the ability to work within a team structure or do they come off as more of a "cowboy coder"? Are their career goals compatible with our organization? I ask about traits they like in their coworkers and boss to verify team fit, etc.

Also, most of you should realize that as generally well compensated knowledge workers making a hiring mistake is extremely expensive in soft and hard costs. It behooves a company to get more opinions in direct relation to the level of hire.

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