Episode 03 : How To Make Interviews Fun

How to make interview fun

In this episode of Nurture.Team, we are going to explore the following:

Interviews are stressful especially for the interviewee and time suck for the interviewer.

What can the interviewers (and to certain extent organizations) do to make them fun?

What’s the right way to treat an interviewees so that they feel at ease from the get-go?

Questions during podcast:

  • Share with me how do you conduct your interviews? What’s different about them? Give me some examples?
  • When did you realize that interviews process aren’t fun and let me make it interesting? When did you had this revelation?
  • Assuming not all interviewers work on their interviewing skills – particularly the soft skills and handling the candidate. What set of improvements an organization, HR team, hiring team and the interviewers themselves need to work on?
  • Do you do anything differently if you are a hiring manager vs just on interview panel? Or in other words: A lot of times, as a hiring manager you truly care of this interviewee (personal experience). However, interviewers from other teams might not be as involved or gentle with the candidate or the process – Have you seen/ heard/ experienced this? How can this be fixed?
  • Can you recall an instance or instances, where you conducted an interview which isn’t a traditional 45 minute – and it took the candidate by surprise – in a good way? And even if the candidate wasn’t serious of your company and the offer, your mere dealing with him/ her changed their mind.
  • Do you recall any instance where you conducted an interview and you messed up? How would you fix it, if you can go back in time?

What I learned:

  • Great interviewers do not focus on a cookie-cutter formula to wrap up a 45 min conversation. Infact, their focus is on how can they eliminate the blockers in the way. The blockers could be a well deserving candidate is nervous, member of interview panel not educated enough about the role, or as simple as prep-ing the candidate for various individuals on the interview panel.
  • Learn from your experience but do not settle down with one formula
    • Each hire is unique
    • Each candidate is hired at a different stage of the team/ company and that should be factored in your approach (as an interviewer)
    • Should contribute and bring in a different perspective else interviews will be cloning exercise and not team building exercise
  • Have a hiring game plan. Document the goals of the interview process.
    • Ensure that hiring team knows about the role and what are your expectations from this candidate/ role.
    • Also work with the candidate and help them understand the interview process (above and beyond what your HR/ recruiter would have done), help them know better about individuals on the interview panel and what the candidate should expect when they talk to them (just so that they don’t walk into a complete unknown setup)
  • Break down the expectations from the role into two parts (for the interview panel). This will be your interview plan.
    • Competency: The core skills required to be successful at the day to day job.
    • Work-style: Skills required to be successful while working with others on the job (collaboration, remote, cross-functional team settings etc)
  • Don’t wait for your HR to give you the instructions or framework to make a great hire. As a hiring manager do what’s right for the candidate and will reasonably fit within your company norms.
  • When the candidates are onsite, take them around in your office space, may be make few introductions, show them where their future team sits and how a day looks like and things people around other than work stuff.
  • One common failure pattern is you chat for an hour and you don’t get to know about each other.
  • STAR method framework – this will help to give a structure to the conversation.


  • Don’t wait for your HR to give you the instructions or framework to make a great hire. As a hiring manager do what’s right for the candidate and will reasonably fit within your company norms.
  • Care for your candidates – prepare them for the interviewers and what they should expect when they talk to the individuals on the panel.
  • Do not restrict yourself with mere interview questions. Share with them about the culture, the team they will be part of, what fun things the company does on a day to day basis etc, and why it’s a great place to work.
  • Once you establish the fact that the candidate has the basic skills to be successful at their job, flip the conversation where let them hold your hand and ask them: “What do you want to do next with the problem you just solved?”
    • Let them improvise. Let them imagine and run wild with their solutions and next steps.
  • Don’t have a binary outcome in mind – even though the interview process demands one. Read up Moishe Lettvin’s Lowering the bar where he shares how interview process is like mapping the potato. It’s a great read.

Recommendations by Nick for teams:



Malazan Book of the Fallen Series


Archery (that’s the most recent activity the team did)

About the guest on this episode:

Nick Stielau.

Nick lives in San Francisco. He was at CoreOS as Head of Infrastructure Engineering and ContainerLinux. Earlier in Jan 2018, RedHat acquired CoreOS where is now leading a team for OpenShift and Kubernetes.

Few weeks back IBM announced to be acquiring RedHat – which will make him an IBMer – “What a journey” in the past 2 years.

In the past he was Director of Engineering at Pantheon (and that’s where were both worked together).

His spirit animal is Wolf!