How Marvin enables me to conduct productive and effective Technical interviews

Santosh Viswanatham
6 min readDec 17, 2022
Marvin Universe

I work for Marvin. we are making software for researchers and consultants who are hard-core interviewers and are mostly very meticulous about it. Marvin, which is typically used for qualitative research, proved useful in conducting technical interviews and establishing a set of standards for how to effectively conduct technical interviews. Through using this tool, I was able to save approximately 20% of the time spent on each interview with the help of Marvin.

Finding the right candidates for a position can be a difficult and time-consuming task, and conducting technical interviews can be challenging. It can be not easy to accurately evaluate a candidate’s skills and abilities in just an hour or two. My experience with technical interviews over the past five years has taught me that some people may excel in interviews but struggle in their actual job, while others who may be excellent at their job may not necessarily perform well in interviews. This creates an additional challenge for interviewers in assessing a candidate’s suitability for a role.

Challenges in conducting interviews

Time constraints 🕒

Adhering to time limits during an interview is crucial, as it allows for a fair and equal assessment of all candidates. It also ensures that the interviewer has sufficient time to cover all necessary topics and evaluate the candidate’s responses thoroughly. While staying within the time constraints can be challenging, it is an essential aspect of conducting a successful and effective interview.

Always in a decision-making mode 💭

During interviews, we often find ourselves unconsciously focused on whether the candidate is performing well rather than engaging in a collaborative learning experience. This can prevent us from fully assessing the candidate’s skills and abilities and from gaining valuable insights from the conversation.

Interviews can be biased

While a candidate may have all the right answers to the questions asked, their overall impression during the interview can also play a crucial role in their chances of being selected. Even good candidates may not always make a strong impression, so it is important to consider both the content of their responses and their demeanor during the interview.

Different sources for a single interview 🗂️

In the past, my typical interview process involved conducting interviews over Zoom, having a discussion guide/questions on Google Docs, taking notes on another document, and providing feedback through a separate platform to our recruiting team. However, this approach resulted in a lack of a central repository for all interview data, which meant that important information was lost whenever a team member cum interviewer left the company. Interesting conversations are lost right after the interview

Get diverted or sometimes lost in conversations

As humans, we naturally enjoy engaging in interesting conversations, but this can sometimes lead us to lose track of time and extend interviews beyond the allotted time or need to remember to ask important questions. This can hinder our ability to accurately assess a candidate’s skills and abilities and make informed hiring decisions.

Standardization of Interviews 🚀

Each individual may have their unique style when it comes to conducting interviews, and with a feedback system in place, it can be easier for team members to share their experiences and expertise to improve the interview process and the quality of the questions. The use of multiple tools and platforms for conducting interviews and sharing information can further complicate efforts to standardize and ensure consistency in the interview process.

How did Marvin help me to overcome these challenges?

Live Notes 📝

Marvin allows me to take thorough notes during interviews, both on Zoom and by phone. I typically use phone calls for initial screening, and I can link my notes to the questions I ask and add labels for easy reference. The best part is that these notes are linked to the audio or video of the interview, making it easy to go back and review the conversation.

Labels 🏷️

The Label’s feature helps me track the topics covered during a technical interview, allowing me to plan the remaining portion of the interview and enabling future interviewers to plan their interviews accordingly with a focus on alternative topics.

Reports 📊

Reporting capabilities enable me to quickly and easily generate reports on individual candidates or broader topics, such as the testing tools used by our interviewees in their projects. This allows me to easily share insights and findings with my team members.

A report on Accessibility 101 compiled from interviews

Sentiments 😄

Although sentiments were implemented for an entirely different use case, 🙈 by leveraging Marvin, I’m able to shift my focus during technical interviews to engaging in meaningful discussions and reserving judgment until the end, when I can take a few minutes to evaluate the responses using a sentiment-based rating system. This allows me to accurately assess the quality of the answers and identify areas for improvement.

Positive — The answer was satisfactory

Neutral — The answer could be better or a better solution is available

Negative — The answer is incorrect

A note taken during the interview with a positive answer

Clippings and Playlists 🖇️

Clippings and Playlists are valuable features that generate quantifiable and practical output from interviews. These features allow us to assign a conversation and video to a specific answer, enabling us to easily share knowledge from interviews without losing context. For example, I can create a playlist of answers to questions about improving the accessibility and performance of web applications, which can serve as a valuable learning resource for my team when we do want to work on these focus areas. Overall, these features make capturing and sharing insights from technical interviews easier. An example of a clippings page can be found here.

Clippings page of Marvin
Playlist page on conversations with engineers to improve the performance of web applications

Marvin includes a range of other features, such as CRM, Marvin Bot to help you record your meetings, global search, data visualization, collaboration, and analysis, that are extensively used for qualitative user research and design research. and I’m glad to have built many of them. Curious about why we are called Marvin? Read here.

Marvin has been invaluable in streamlining my interview process, saving me time, and helping me to maintain a comprehensive database of interview data. Not only has it allowed me to learn and share insights from previous interviews, but it has also helped me to standardize my approach to conducting interviews moving forward.

To conclude, I want to share a few tips that I received from great people and have helped me to hire the right candidates (most of the time):

  1. Hire people who you can learn from and grow with.
  2. Focus on finding reasons to hire a candidate, rather than reasons to reject them.
  3. Validating cultural fit is as important as validating skill fit when evaluating candidates.

Following these tips can help you make well-informed hiring decisions and build a strong and successful team.

Ready to see our amazing product in action? Click here to schedule a demo! 🙌

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Santosh Viswanatham

Javascript Engineer | Product Developer | Tech Speaker | Angular | React | WebVR | Browser Add-ons