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Engaging With a Candidate During the Interview

Xun Tang

Engineering Manager at Reddit

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Problem

An important part of a hiring manager's job is to sell the position appropriately so that the right candidate will choose us. The dimension becomes more broad when hiring a manager for part of the team.  

The first few times that I had to do this, I felt underprepared. The candidate asked a bunch of questions that I was unable to answer well. Afterward, I spent some time thinking about the questions that we had both asked. I came up with a template that would allow me to hone in on what was important to the company and a potential hire.

Actions taken

In this document, I cover multiple key points. I make a note that I like to see a candidate who:

  • Has exhibited periods of growth in the past.
  • Is able to show me how they and their team had an impact.
  • Is able to show how they will form a partnership with our organization.

I also now come prepared with much more information and context on the company itself for the candidate to consider. I have my entire team’s background and roles outlined, showing what they do and how they contribute to the team's mission. I share where I was able to help some of my people fill the gaps that they may have had in their knowledge. I show them the company-wide resources that we offer to those looking for somewhere to grow, as well as my own management principles. I tell them about any ramp-up plans that we have in place for them as well as what the 30/60/90 day plan looks like.  

When I bring a new manager to the team, I like to stretch them comfortably. I want them to be able to see what can be on the path ahead of them — the prospect of managing a larger team, for example. Another growth opportunity is to gradually take ownership of larger, cross-functional projects that span the entire organization.

By talking them through the potential growth in the company and by sharing my own experience and style of working, I am able to establish this relationship very early on. We are then able to join forces and cultivate our group together. I found much higher success rate of landing a good hire with these approaches.  

Lessons learned

  • The greatest lesson that I learned through this process was the value of always being prepared.
  • Before hiring anybody into your company, you need to be thinking about this person’s career and long-term success.
  • Hiring managers always need to be authentic and transparent. You don’t want to hire somebody into the company under false pretenses and then have them realize that your company is not where they should be.

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Xun Tang

Engineering Manager at Reddit


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