Friday, November 14, 2014

DevIntersection 2014 – Interviewing developers

At the moment I’m in Las Vegas attending DevIntersection. Next to all the technical sessions, there was a whole track dedicated to leadership.


One of the sessions in the Leadership track was ‘Interviewing Developers’ by Billy Hollis. Here are some of the notes I made during the session:

  • Keep a professional attitude.
    • You are here to find the perfect match for your team not to get new friends.
    • Don’t try to become friends with the candidate. If you hire him (or her) you get time enough to get acquainted.
  • It’s a good idea to ask the candidate to send some code up front. This should not be a whole project but just some files the developer can share.
    • Unfortunately some developers work on proprietary projects and cannot provide any code.
  • Do a review of the application letter.
    • Chances are high that the candidate did write this letter himself, which could not be the case for his CV.
    • Don’t be merciful on spelling mistakes!
  • Do a full analysis of the CV.
    • Especially look at the project length and the time they stayed at the same customer(longer is better)
  • Listen to your first impression.
    • But don’t listen too much. :-)
  • Keep a neutral tone and posture during the interview.
    • People try to read your body language and change their answer accordingly.
  • Be aware for defensiveness
    • Development is a trial-and-error process. Making mistakes is part of our job. Look how the candidate handles mistakes and can learn from them.
  • Don’t make too much notes during the interview.
    • It distracts the candidate.
  • Ask open ended questions.
  • Avoid telephone interviews.
    • If it is not possible to see the candidate in person, use Skype(or a similar tool).
  • An interview should not take too long(not more than one hour).
    • After one hour, nature kicks in and the candidate will probably need to use the bathroom :-)

Billy also gave a whole list of sample questions which he asked not to share. So I will not add them here. If you want to know these questions, apply for a job at my company ;-)

Remark: Billy mentioned that he will probably create a Pluralsight course based on this talk, so watch out for it…

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