Interviewing at Zühlke - our recruiters' perspective

Zühlke Singapore Team

“We are human beings assessing human beings” 

Meet Aimen, recruiting and talent relation specialist at Zühlke in Hong Kong, and Melvin, expert software engineer and technical interviewer for Zühlke in Singapore as they share their insights as being on the assessor’s side of things. 

What makes the Zühlke recruitment process unique?

Aimen: Our process is designed to assess a candidate’s mindset. We value the person behind the CV and the time and effort that was put into the interview. We screen all CVs ourselves, take time to look through every application, and don’t use any automated tools that would evaluate people based on algorithms. 

Also, we are involving our engineers as technical interviewers early on in the process. We have very talented people at Zühlke who know what they are talking about - and we want candidates to experience our company and expertise already from the first touch point. 

Melvin: Our interviews are more like a conversation. While our technical interviews can be challenging, our intention is never to make anyone fail. We take time to understand the candidates’ understanding of fundamentals and how they work. If someone is unable to pass, we can give very valuable feedback on how to fill in the gaps.

Aimen: Another unique feature to mention is our feedback style: at the end of every interview stage, we will share what went well, how you can improve, and whether they are moving on to the next round.  

After having conducted so many interviews, what are some of your biggest learnings?

Melvin: We learnt that the details do matter! We make sure that everything is up and running by the time our candidates come in. We provide everything from chargers, cables, spare laptops, and more. 

Aimen: When candidates face technical issues during an online interview – instead of desperately trying to fix it and creating that tense situation - we would offer to reschedule the interview instead. Of course, without any impact on the application outcome.

In general, we focus on building a relationship with our candidates where they can openly reach out if they have any questions beforehand, no matter the interview format. Better to ask and be prepared – there is no such thing as too many questions! 

Melvin: Being involved in interviewing has greatly improved my communication skills. As an interviewer, you need to sense how comfortable someone is in the situation and how you can react to it. When someone is stressed or has a blackout, we would let them know that it’s OK to admit if you don’t have an answer. That is in fact, even strongly favored over pretending to know the answers. Being honest and authentic is a value that we look out for in candidates. This is also key to a good relationship while working at Zühlke and with our clients who rely on us as trusted advisors for their critical projects.

Aimen: That’s so true. And it also applies to us giving feedback to candidates: Our feedback is always individualized, we genuinely care, and give tips for good reads or resources to improve on certain skills not yet proficient enough to land the job at Zühlke. We even had candidates who worked on the skills that they were lacking based on our feedback and came back to reapply with Zühlke afterward!

Melvin: Giving feedback is one of the best things I’ve learned while being an interviewer. Giving positive feedback is almost always easier, but it can be very challenging to share negative feedback. It sometimes also affects you, because you want candidates to pass and as an interviewer, you’re journeying with them in the process, rooting for them. Luckily, we have resources at Zühlke to support us in learning these skills – such as sessions and workshops on how to give constructive feedback. 

Hands on the table: what are some of your top tips for candidates?

Aimen: Do read up on the information that we have sent to you. If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. Do not be afraid to ask any questions to your recruiter upfront. Create a nice, simple laid-out CV of no more than 3 pages that sums up your experience and let us know what you are doing: what product or project are you working on? What technologies do you use?

Melvin: Don't fluff. Admit it if you don't know something - you can never know everything! Software engineering is so much more than coding, and we put a lot of emphasis on communication skills, too. In addition, there are two traits that we love to see in our candidates: First, having a growth mindset. Bearing in mind that whatever technology or coding languages you learn now may be obsolete in 3 years so always keep up to date! And secondly: show us how you take ownership and responsibility for your work. At Zühlke, we cultivate a culture of engagement and ownership where we empower our employees, regardless of level, to be able to drive initiatives and improvements where needed.

After conducting so many interviews for Zühlke I think my biggest takeaway is that it takes a team to build something great. Everyone brings something to the table!

What do you bring to the table?
Melvin Sy

Melvin Sy

Expert Software Engineer

Melvin is a full stack software engineer since October 2020 at Zühlke with an expertise on Java and JavaScript ecosystems. Having worked in various industry sectors such as research and development, medical, telecom, financial and gambling, he has an extensive experience in building production grade software ranging from mobile to web applications. As an engineer who values in using the best tools when solving a problem and in writing clean maintainable code, Melvin has a passion in learning new technologies and in the craft of creating software.

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