9 Tips For When You Host An Interview With A Developer - Source Technology
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9 Tips For When You Host An Interview With A Developer

Hosting any interview can be a challenge, especially when it comes down to technical subjects. Therefore, if you have to host a job interview with a developer, it can be difficult to know what to ask and what to do. While there are many articles offering advice to candidates, there are far fewer out there for those who are hosting the interview, so this article is designed to fill the gap!

Here we’ll give you our top 10 tips for when you host an interview with a developer to get you on the right track from the get-go!

  1. Make It Realistic
  2. You’re sure to want to test the developer’s ability to debug or refactor code, but you need to test those skills in a realistic way. Asking them to do something that they would never need to do in a real-life work setting is pointless. Avoid asking them to do things like refactoring code on the whiteboard and instead focus on tasks such as refactoring code that they’ve previously written in a different direction.

  3. Keep It Positive
  4. The programming tasks you set should be challenging, but the candidate needs to feel as if it’s possible to succeed. Make sure that instructions are clear, expectations are clearly set out and, most importantly, that the environment is friendly and non-hostile.

  5. Maximise The Developer’s Work-Time
  6. You want to watch the developer at work – writing code, discussing designs and tracking down bugs – so that you can judge whether they’re capable of the task in hand. Make sure to avoid taking up their time with other things such as unnecessary explanations or interruptions.

  7. Don’t Nitpick
  8. Developer interviews aren’t the right environment for nitpicking over small details. Things like forgotten semi-colons and un-descriptive variable names can be safely overlooked.

  9. Choose The Right Tasks For The Interview
  10. Forget programming challenges based on neat data-structures and algorithms. Instead choose tasks that are open-ended and messy. This allows you to see how well the developer problem solves in practice.

  11. Test Out The Programming Task Before The Interview
  12. It may sound obvious, but make sure you’ve tested out the programming task before you give it to the prospective developer. This will let you calibrate the difficulty of the task and flush out possible bugs. It will also reveal different solutions and approaches to the problem in hand.

  13. Structure The Interview
  14. It’s important to ensure that the interview has a clear structure with timed sections. This will ensure everything gets done that needs to be. For example, you’ll begin with introductions then move on to discussing the CV, a coding task, then a brief period for asking questions. Let the developer know what will be happening in order so they can feel prepared.

  15. Allow Mistakes To Be Made
  16. If a candidate is exploring solutions or approaches that definitely won’t work, don’t stop them from making the mistake. It’s a great way to see whether they are creative and innovative enough to look at different options.

  17. Write Up Your Interview
  18. Once the interview is complete, write up the experience in detail. Note down anything that the developer struggled with, whether they needed some support or guidance, and some details about their performance and attitude. Most importantly, you should note down whether they were someone that the team would be happy to work with.

Acting On Our Advice

Now you have our 9 tips for when you host an interview with a developer, you can be ready to put them into practice the next time you’re hiring a new member for your team!

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