interview questions

I always hate it when, in an interview, I’m asked to solve a logic puzzle. Now Google is using math puzzles to recruit. These sorts of things seem good at identifying folks who might be good students, folks who are good at competing against others to solve toy problems. But a good developer has quite different skills. A good developer works with others to solve real problems. A knack for triage, good manners, writing skills and lots of other things are as important as logic skills.

When I interview I like to ask people to describe a problem they encountered and tell how they solved it–to tell a story. Or I describe to them a real problem I’m currently working on, and see how they might approach it. Not that I’m actually convinced this works much better. Hiring people I haven’t previously worked with still always feels like a lottery…

6 Responses to “interview questions”

  1. Stefan Groschupf Says:

    How to Interview a Programmer:
    http://www.artima.com/wbc/interprog.html
    An little bit old but a good article with statement from for example Bruce Eckel.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I’m not looking forward to being stumped on my next interview but it does seem like “quizzing” is en vogue.

    Joel (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000073.html) seems infatuated with pushing interview candidates mental prowess to really get into how they think. In many ways I think this is good; but I see lots of potential holes in his approach. For one, it focuses on a lot of academic mental agility whereas a lot of the good programmers I’ve known aren’t quick witted, sharp tongued or argumentative, they plod through issues and come up with good ideas.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    What I’m worried about is that Google is only hiring smart people and not any creative people. Certainly you need smart people but without creative types Google may just be top heavy with smart people who won’t be able to come up with the next great search engine. Right now, I don’t see Google’s search getting any better, in fact, it seems like it’s getting worse.

  4. George Withers Says:

    What I’ve been doing (and it does seem hard to know what is really “working”) is to give a simple, standalone application description and give the candidate some time (30 minutes) to draw up an approach and then present it. This is certainly a test but gives the interviewee time to review the problem/question and present the answer interactively. In the presentation it’s both easier for the interviewee in that the answer isn’t simply 42, and for the interviewer in you have something to pick into to see how the person is thinking.

  5. Me Says:

    I run across a Technical Interview questions and answers website, which may be useful http://www.technical-interview.com

  6. Better Tom Says:

    well it’s not the kind of news that is worth discussing. i wonder why are you all here so excited?

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