Interview questions,

So one of the things that’s being going around my mind, based on my recent experiences is. Just what makes a good interview question to ask developer?

Morph, getting out the boxI’m a firm believer that asking technical ‘quiz’ questions, doesn’t really work, it doesn’t separate out the good programmers, from those who’ve read the documentation before they’ve walked into the room, for example you may ask, what is polymorphism? (clue it’s not that episode of morph, where Chas* cloned him). Now I’m a quite decent programmer if I don’t say so myself, can have a go at describing this of the top of my head, but in reality, the person who swallowed the book just before they went in to the interview could give you a better answer without really understanding it (the lesson here would be, if someone reels of a textbook answer, they got it from a textbook).

So just what can you ask to separate the 1’s from the 0’s?

Well before we start, let me just point out, I’ve not been on the interviewing course, so I have no idea if you can ask these types of questions, without going against all fair interview techniques, but if it was totally up to me.

What books do you read?
When I told Ruth she said, “what like terry pratchet”, and initially I thought no, it’s more “what books relating to the field do you read”, but then I thought a bit more, and yes, if somebody answered, “I’ve read every terry pratchet novel twice, and I am the owner of the terry pratchet fan fiction site, where I’ve written several noveleet’s about disc world” then that gives you a good incite into somebody’s persona.

The problem is that there is of course no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to this one, it’s far to subjective, but I think if the right person came to interview, this would be the question to make them stand out. (for me the answer, C++ Hackbook & learn yourself perl in 24 hours are the ‘wrong’ answer)

Anymore good questions?
I think the point here is that the best questions aren’t necessarily about the subject you’re interviewing for, the beeb have some nightmare interview questions, which if nothing else, make you glad they’ve never happened to you. (a jaffa cake is a biscuit by the way), of course we could just look to Microsoft, who after all have at least a few good developers working for them. they have a range of interview questions with some scarrly technical and also more of the wall questions.

It turns out I agree with Bram Cohen (inventor of bittorrent):
“Interviews are practically worthless for screening candidates. In an interview you can tell if a person is a pleasant conversationalist, and you can give some technical questions to rule out the truly inept, but beyond that you might as well be rolling dice.”

I have to say, I absolutely despise where do you see yourself in five years? It’s the most thinly veiled, do you have ambition and drive question I’ve ever seen, I mean who answers “duh I don’t know, I thought I would just bum about in this job for a bit”

*I’ve checked and Tony Hart’s website says it’s chas (pronounced Chaz)

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