SPUG: interviewing coders

Steve Howell showell at zipcon.com
Fri Nov 16 09:07:18 CST 2001

Here is a suggestion for interviewing coders.  

Pull up a project that you're working on.  Let the interviewee pull
their chair around to your side of the desk.  Drive for a while,
explaining your role on the project.  Show the interviewee a few data
files, or let them run the interface a couple times, to get their head
around it.

Once they're comfortable, pull up some code.  Find a module in your code
that is relatively clean.  Demonstrate to the interviewee how you add a
feature.  Let them drive as you put your change through the paces.  Let
them get comfortable with your environment.  

Once they're completely comfortable with the environment, ask them to
make a similar small change.  See how well they handle it.  But, realize
that they're still battling the environment.  Walk them through any
rough spots, so that they get all the way through that.

After that warmup, a candidate should be able to open up and have a more
meaningful conversation.  They have seen you do your actual job, so they
now has the correct reference point.  If they are clearly unqualified,
you'll probably have scared them away with your own code.  If they are
qualified, they might be able to say things like, oh, I used that exact
same module, but in a much different way...

And so on.

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