Interviewing and Hiring Programmers

Posted on January 11, 2007  Comments (4)

Interviewing and Hiring by Tom Van Vleck

“Let’s take a break from talking to people. Why don’t you have a seat in this empty office, and write a small program. Use any language you want to. The program can do anything you’d like. I’ll be back in about 30 minutes, and ask you to explain the program to me.”

It seemed reasonable, if the job was programming, to ask people how they felt about actually doing some. And sure, it caused interview stress. We allowed for that in our evaluation; but the job was going to be stressful at times too, and we needed people who could enjoy it. The important thing was not what the candidate wrote, but the account he or she gave of it.

And you’d be surprised how many people couldn’t do it. Couldn’t write a simple program and talk sensibly about it. They’d huff, and bluster, and make excuses, and change the subject, rather than actually write some code. “Oh, I think of myself as more an architect than a coder.”

A very worthwhile read. I discussed some of these ideas in: Hiring the Right Workers.

Related: Find management improvement jobsSigns You Have a Great Job … or NotManagement Training Program

4 Responses to “Interviewing and Hiring Programmers”

  1. Friday KnowHR Links - Interviewing and Hiring at KnowHR Blog
    January 26th, 2007 @ 7:39 am

    […] Interviewing and Hiring Programmers. Curious Cat Management blog shows that sometimes a simple test is all that’s needed to weed out the potentials from the poseurs. […]

  2. CuriousCat: Hiring the Right Person
    September 2nd, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

    Malcolm Gladwell presented at the New Yorker conference on the Challenge of Hiring in the Modern World. As usually, he provides some great thoughts…

  3. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Job Listings Online Filled with Jargon
    June 5th, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

    In the information technology field the standard practice is to include a large number of basically irrelevant skills as requirements. And then managers wonder why they don’t get decent applicants…

  4. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Hiring: Silicon Valley Style
    August 14th, 2010 @ 11:45 am

    Guy Kawasaki” – “the key to getting great people to work for you is to have a great product. That is why Google does so well. That is why Apple does so well.”

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