I’m not trying to grill you. The bar’s not high on the telephone interview. The next step, the face-to-face, means meeting a few members of the team. They’ll grill you. My job is to screen out the uncomfortably bad experiences.I’m just trying to protect them and not waste your time. But be prepared — this question is a technical one. However, it’s not meant to test the breadth or depth of your technical knowledge, but rather to lay bare your soul to me and reveal who you are as a data scientist.I’ve interviewed hundreds of experienced and aspiring data scientists — and hired several dozen. I’m not looking for one type of person. I build teams, and there are many ways that very different people can fit together to form a great team. I also don’t expect to find the exact piece I need. I’m looking for someone to invest in. But I have high standards.

The Standard

It’s a big responsibility. I treat my teams as a family. I’m introducing a potential, new family member. I want two things for each family members:

  1. For them to feel safe to be and express themselves honestly without fear of retribution.I want them to feel that the work we do is important and requires a certain strength of character. For a data scientist, that strength is intellectual honesty.

If I let someone in who isn’t prepared to be brutally honest with themselves and others about the quality of their work, even as a candidate, it’s an insult. They see the caliber of the candidate as a reflection of how I see them.

The Set-up

I don’t just blurt this question out. I want it to be unassuming. I want to gauge how important you think the question is. I don’t want to bias you, so I’ll sneak it in as a follow-up.So first, I’ll ask you to tell me about your relevant experience. Perhaps I say, “Which of your projects are you most proud of? Tell me about it.”Here, I’m looking for two things:

  1. Can you explain to me, a technical expert, what you’ve done? I’m not looking for eloquence, just clarity.What do you value? When you talk about what you’re proud of, the language you use (and what you focus on) betrays your values.

Some people fail the interview on this question, but few. Some people cannot explain their work — to the point you’d question if they just made it up right then. Others just present themselves poorly — speaking extremely rudely of previous co-workers or saying things that are flat out wrong. One or two have droned on for the remainder of the interview refusing to be interrupted.But almost all pass and are now set up for the big one.

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Why You’re Failing the Telephone Interview
1.05 GEEK