Interview Advice from Dayna Wu, Silicon Valley Tech Recruiter - Issue #271

Interviewing do's and don'ts for job candidates

  
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My guest for this episode is Dayna Wu. She is the proud mom of two, Hawaii born and raised, and now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s a Senior Recruiter for Nvidia Corporation while being a distance learning teacher, short-order cook, housekeeper, physical fitness activity coordinator, and parent/wife all at the same time.

Over the course of 13 years, she’s worked at stealth and early-stage startups being the sole recruiter handling everything from sourcing candidates, setting up recruiting processes, negotiating and closing candidate offers, and working as a member of a global recruiting team at large public corporations.

She enjoys talking to people and helping them navigate the daunting interview process, by providing candidates all the information they need to evaluate that next step in their life and career. She works hard to establish long-term relationships and partner with people even if it doesn’t end up being a hire for the company. She also enjoys working with hiring managers to understand their roles, learning new things, and finding out how she can support their hiring needs.

Her favorite part of the recruiting process is helping to move things along; from discovering talent, interview coaching and preparedness, gathering interview feedback and next steps, offer negotiation and approvals, and ultimately delivering an offer that exceeds a candidate’s expectations.

In this podcast episode, you’ll hear about:

  • Ways to make a good impression during a job interview.

  • Behavior that will leave hiring teams with a bad impression of you.

  • The good, the bad, and the ugly of her experiences with candidates.

  • Things hiring managers can do to improve the recruiting experience.

  • The balance of active vs. passive candidates.


Key points from our conversation

I want to call out a few points from my conversation with Dayna to help you if you are preparing for your upcoming job interviews and working with recruiters.

Be prepared

Dayna said she likes people who really prepare for an interview. She can tell when she talks with a candidate. She’ll have an early conversation about what they are looking for, why they’re interested in the company, etc.

Some ways to make a positive impression:

  • Research the company.

  • Research the interview panel.

  • Ask if there are areas they would like you to focus on.

  • Download the company’s app, try out the software, be familiar with the company’s products and services.

  • Find and report bugs in the software.

  • Be knowledgeable about the company’s blog posts.

  • Contribute to their open-source software (if applicable).

  • Have good enthusiasm and energy during the interview.

  • Ask intelligent questions.

  • Send “Thank you” notes after the interview.

Things candidates did to make a bad impression:

  • Calling the company the wrong name.

  • Expecting an early-stage startup to have the same benefits as a large corporation.

  • Asking for way too much equity.

  • Taking their shoes off and putting their feet up on the table.

  • Staring at her chest.

Be humble

It’s always a good idea to be humble and polite during an interview. We all like people with confidence. But, there is a fine line between being proud of your talent, skills, and experience and being arrogant.

Some bad experiences Dayna’s had with candidates:

  • Asking for a car as part of their offer.

  • Referring to themselves as “Rolex watches.”

  • Being demanding during an interview.

  • Being rude and having an attitude during conversations.

Be professional

Sometimes a company will be super casual with a candidate to see how the person “cuts loose” and what that looks like. Some people fall into the trap of being too comfortable, cursing, sharing inappropriate stories, etc.

Some negative experiences she’s had with candidates:

  • Refusing to be flexible during the offer negotiation process.

  • Making unreasonable meal requests.

  • Cutting her off while she’s speaking.

  • Not being ready for an interview call and asking her to call back later.

  • During the interview, telling her that they’d prefer to work for a different company.

  • Shaking her hand way too firmly and pulling her around.

You should always focus on being professional. Remember that you’re always being evaluated, even during casual moments like having lunch with the team.

🎧 Listen to my full conversation with Dayna to hear more of her stories (e.g., issues with hiring managers) and her amazing insider’s advice that will help you nail your next job interview!


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Larry Cornett is a leadership coach and business advisor who runs a professional online community. He lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and children, and a gigantic Great Dane. He does his best to share advice that can help others take full control of their work and life. He’s also on Twitter @cornett.