Interviewing Developers - an interesting approach

2013-06-27

Google recently revealed some data culled from their recruiting practice (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/business/in-head-hunting-big-data-may-not-be-such-a-big-deal.html?_r=0).

Basically, those brain-teasing riddles didn’t show anything. They also didn’t find a correlation between GPA’s and abilities. One reliable thing was behavioural questions.

On the heels of this posting, the author here (http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/22/the-technical-interview-is-dead/) has provided his view on interviewing. He also expressed this opinion two years ago, but not too much has changed.

Recruiting developers is hard. Reading through the article above, and then following the link to how Treehouse does recruiting seems like a good approach, and I’ll definitely be following up on this.

  • First, weed out the really incompetent with simple tests. FizzBuzz is a common example of this.
  • Alternatively, ask them questions like Treehouse’s. If they misunderstand questions, or the team don’t like the answers, they can be rejected
  • Ask for code samples on GitHub or elsewhere.
  • Ask about their blog.
  • Ask them to discuss their experience (and not a CV/Resume)
  • Ask about a hard problem they’ve had to solve. Tools they use, decisions they’ve made, pet peeves. Try to determine both their technical abilities as well as their passion.
  • Why do you want to work here?
    If everything above looks good, then give them a trial project to work on. This should be something that’s real, but not critical path. A nice to have, or some technical debt that would be nice to have addressed. Allow for them to collaborate with the team. Pay them an appropriate wage. After all, they’re giving time, and solving a real problem.

This will test their ability to collaborate, and their coding abilities. Also gives the candidate a real view into your workings. So, both sides win by getting a test run and determining if it’s a good fit for both parties.

A collection of these approaches seems much better than the usual brain teasers/coding on the spot type exercises, and even Google has admitted as much.


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