I'm probably the last person who should enjoy interviewing prospective teammates. I hate public speaking—I'm prone to ramble and put my foot in my mouth. High-pressure social interactions tire me. Engaging in friendly chit chat, wearing real clothes…just thinking about interviewing has been known to make my stomach feel like a black hole.
But over the last two years, I've agreed to—even volunteered to—participate in every interview that's come my way at Zapier. Why? Because I realized that interviewing prospective teammates can be just as helpful for me as it is for my company.
Change is scary, especially when you feel powerless to influence it. But when you interview people for roles that will interact with yours, you feel more involved in the change. I've interviewed future teammates, collaborators, and managers—and even when my top choice wasn't selected, it's been great to get a preview of who I'd be working with.
Plus, you get a head start on building a relationship with that person. You've already moved past the formalities and started learning about them. Usually, you've seen some of the past work they've done, gotten a preview of how their mind works, and hopefully, you've helped them get a better understanding of your organization and helped ease the change for them too. Yours is now a friendly, familiar face to help them through the disorientation of orientation.
Learn more about your own job
In any job, you have to keep learning to grow. At Zapier, we have a generous professional development budget, but conferences and courses don't just require money—they also require time. Plus, deciding what you want to learn can be hard given the myriad options available and how fast the workplace evolves these days.
For me, interviews are a great way to supercharge my own knowledge through microlearning. I get to see my skills (and adjacent ones) applied to real work scenarios outside of my own company. I can ask questions to learn more and get ideas for how I might improve in my own role.
And unlike most conferences and courses, interviewing is free.
Learn more about jobs you're interested in
I'm interested in content design, so I'm sure to interview every content designer I can. It's helped my own work as a technical writer, but it's also helped me understand a new field that's still being defined.
Reading about a field is one thing; talking to people who are actually in that field is another. During interviews, I've learned from content designers about what they're doing successfully (and unsuccessfully), not just theoretically.
Build your own interview skills
Interviewing other people is a great way to build your own interview skills. It's a low-stakes environment since you're not the one under the spotlight.
While evaluating candidates, my observational skills are already on high alert. So, as an experiential learner, I've learned a lot by watching candidates, seeing their presentations, questioning them, and being questioned by them. You get to see what worked—and what didn't.
You also get insider knowledge of what folks really want from candidates. Job descriptions can only tell you so much about a job. Interacting with the hiring manager and other interviewers teaches you so much more. You get to learn the detailed expectations of the job and the business case for hiring this position.
Network across your org
I've gotten to interview alongside people from many teams across Zapier. I've used it as an easy, natural way to introduce myself and my work to them. For me, it's less awkward and feels more genuine than the usual meet-and-greet networking opportunities.
In addition to building relationships outside your team that you might lean on later, interviewing helps you support cross-functional goals, which will show you're a team player.
Remind yourself why you like your job
No job is without its headaches, and the longer you're at a job, the easier it is to let the negative get ahead of the positive. When you interview people, though, it's almost inevitable that they'll ask you what you like best about your company. This is a good time to remind yourself about all the positive things.
For me, I think back to all the reasons I applied to Zapier in the first place because they're still the reasons that I'm here. And then, of course, I add one or two more…
It's a welcome change from your day-to-day
Isn't it nice to flex some other muscles once in a while?