Interviewing Candidates

Posted on July 24th, 2008 in Management by siddharta || No Comment

Pradeep has a really nice presentation on interviewing candidates. It focuses on interviewing testers, though many of the principles can extend beyond that.

One of the points that has always baffled me is how the candidate is never asked to actually do anything. Instead they are asked a whole bunch of meaningless questions. I’m constantly reminded of this quote from Peopleware:

Circus Manager: How long have you been juggling?
Candidate: Oh, about six years.

Manager: Can you handle three balls, four balls, and five balls?
Candidate: Yes, yes, and yes.

Manager: Do you work with flaming objects?
Candidate: Sure.

Manager: … knives, axes, open cigar boxes, floppy hats?
Candidate: I can juggle anything.

Manager: Do you have a line of funny patter that goes with your juggling?
Candidate: It’s hilarious.

Manager: Well, that sounds fine. I guess you’re hired.
Candidate: Umm … Don’t you want to see me juggle?

Manager: Gee, I never thought of that.

In my previous company we made candidates actually write some code. We would give them a simple program to write in half an hour and they could use a computer to code it. They had access to online help, so they could check up on syntax. And sitting in front of a computer allowed them to work in a natural environment. This process of selection worked out pretty well for us. I’ve always wondered why more companies didn’t do that. Any ideas?

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