Interview Tips

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28 Replies - 3910 Views - Last Post: 22 April 2008 - 07:45 PM

#1 PsychoCoder  Icon User is offline

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Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 07:09 AM

Okay, I have an interview to conduct on Friday (tomorrow), Ive not done a lot of interviews in my career so I was wondering about some tips. I am interviewing this guy for a C# programmer position; I know what I want him to know, I just don't know good ways of accomplishing the questions and such to see if I think he'll be not only a good fit, but competent enough to work on my team.

So, to all of you who have conducted interviews, got some tips for me so I don't make a huge mistake and hire the wrong person :)

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Replies To: Interview Tips

#2 Nykc  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 08:10 AM

Well you definitely wan't to see a portfolio. I would talk to him about his schooling. When I took on this programming job where I am at my boss asked alot about my school, my desire for continued education and where I would like to see myself in a few years.

Don't forget the dreaded question:
Why should I hire you? What can you do for me?
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#3 jjsaw5  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 08:40 AM

I would probably start with schooling and such.. like Nykc said, and then move into his portfolio (if he has one) id ask him a good deal of questions from things on his portfolio to get a feel for what he knows and his comfort level with C.

But I would try to hit him hard on what work he has done and things like that so you can get a good idea of his knowledge/skill level.
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#4 skyhawk133  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 08:43 AM

We've been asking candidates to code in the interview on a white board.
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#5 jjsaw5  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 09:19 AM

View Postskyhawk133, on 10 Apr, 2008 - 11:43 AM, said:

We've been asking candidates to code in the interview on a white board.



Thats a pretty good idea.
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#6 girasquid  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 09:48 AM

Where I work, our interviews tend to consist of portfolio or school - or both, if they have both. The reasoning is that sometimes people come around with little to no schooling but a kick-ass portfolio, and sometimes people come with school but no portfolio yet, and sometimes people come with both.
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#7 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 10:04 AM

This is an article on C++ interviews, but the format could well be modified.

Attached File(s)


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#8 skaoth  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 10:55 AM

Interviewing people is not the easiest thing to do. Most of my interviews have been a
minimum of 4 hours + 2 phone screens. What you do in the interview will depend on
what type of position you are trying to fill.

If its for a junior programmer then the questions will be easier, and harder
for somebody more senior.

I have never been to interview where I wasn't required to code on a white-board.
You really should do this. The biggest thing to look for in IMO is to see if the person can
think. Will the person actually be a software engineer/programmer, or just a code monkey.
I tend to say away from platform specific questions and lean more heavily on
algorithmic questions. Make sure to take your time, and if the interviewee gets stuck
throw them a bone. There is a lot of pressure being placed on them so make them
feel comfortable as you question them. Also don't forget to take a break about
every 30mins or so.

When I interview someone I look for this quality (From Joel on Software)
"Smart, and gets things done"
http://www.joelonsof...0000000073.html

Here is a generaly format. with some questions. The link
above has a general format also.

* Introduction
* Puzzle problems
I always get at least a couple of these. They then to revolve around
sorting.
A) Given 8 marbles and a scale. Find the heaviest marble with the least amount of weighings
A.1) Extrapolate to N marbles....
B) why are man-hole covers round
C) How many gas stations are there in <pick a city>.

* Platform questions
Probe the user on their c# skills since that is what your looking for. You may lean more
heavily on this than other areas
1) desribe boxing/unboxing
2) delegates
3) maybe some SQL stuff, triggers, stored-procedures, views... etc.
4) CLR - questions

* Coding problems/questions (make the user code these on a white-board)
- Simple:
1) Reverse linked-list.
2) There was a question here on D.I.C about finding the largets integer that NickD asked awhile ago in c/c++ section
that went something like this.
A) Find the largest integer in an array without using "if" statement.
B) If the code in (A) used loops, refactor so that
no "if", "looping constructs: for, while", "ternary", "3rd - party libs", "goto:"
are used.

I like this problem because its a small problem that can be evolved to get harder.
And it's short enough for an interview question
3) Write an algorithm to find the mth to last node in a linked-list. O(n)
-Intermediate:
1) http://skaoth.homeli.../wordpress/?p=5

Generally I expect the user to get a least an O(n^2). A more knowledgeable
person will figure out O(n)

2) Given a singly linked list, write an algorithm to detect if it is circular

- Hard:
I'll leave that up to you

* Software Engineering questions
- what do you know about design patterns?
- when is it best to use the adapter pattern? etc...
- OOP:
1) Describe what polymorphism is and what its used for
2) When should interfaces be used
- Does the person know anything about software methodologies:
scrum/waterfall etc...

* Closing

Its always good to have more than 1 person interview to help gauge character.
good luck and have fun.
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#9 girasquid  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 11:25 AM

I had a friend in university come to me for help with an algorithim problem that could be a good interview question:

Quote

Write a program that given A and B, will output how many times B goes into A and the remainder, without using any 'math' operators other than ++ and --.

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#10 Amadeus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 11:54 AM

View Postskaoth, on 10 Apr, 2008 - 01:55 PM, said:

Interviewing people is not the easiest thing to do. Most of my interviews have been a
minimum of 4 hours + 2 phone screens.

Sweet Jesus! I interview for programmers all the time. I know everything I need to about a programmer/team member in about 20-30 mins. If I interviewed someone for 4 hours, I'd never want to see them again! :)
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#11 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 11:55 AM

I would have to agree with Amadeus. Most interviews I have been to have gone for about 30-45 minutes and after that everything that needed saying was said.

:)
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#12 skaoth  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 10 April 2008 - 12:01 PM

Generally getting interviewed for that long is done by a team, not 1 person.
Usually It will be 30 to 45min per person. It is done through out the day.
It generally starts with HR, then you meet up with say 4+ people if its one-on-one.
Then lunch then back to more questions. It usually ends up with talking
to the team manager/director.

In the end I personally don't think that 4hrs is that long to try and judge the quality
of a candidate. If you will be working with the person on projects with tight deadlines
you need to be able to tell if they can cut it.

It could just be that you guys are better at judging the quality of a candidate more quickly :)

This post has been edited by skaoth: 10 April 2008 - 12:15 PM

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#13 LogicCrusher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 16 April 2008 - 09:29 PM

View Postskyhawk133, on 10 Apr, 2008 - 08:43 AM, said:

We've been asking candidates to code in the interview on a white board.

I am still in school, and this idea of writing a code on the white board sounds horrifying. The better way to check candidates knowledge is to ask question such as what would he change in the code, or to find the error in the code, or to refactor given code. Ask him general questions about stacks, heaps, linked lists, arrays, all kinds of sorting… No wonder that large percentage of people screw up on that white board test, there is a lot of pressure. Just try to have a good conversation with the candidate.
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#14 skaoth  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 16 April 2008 - 10:27 PM

Unfortunately, this is a fact of life. IMHO any decent place will make you code on a white board. I've even been asked to implement algorithms over the phone. You are right that its a lot of pressure, especially as they only get harder as you go through the interview (well generally). It also gives a chance for the developers you may end up working with to see how you behave/act under pressure. I'll tell you what, sometimes its not pretty at all. I've seen peoples hand shake, their voice becomes super nervous and mumbling to the point that its hard to understand them. Not that our group was trying to do that. That was just how they responded in that type of environment.

Each company/team will be different but the white board isn't meant to intimidate anyone. Its there to show if you can backup what you have on your resume and other technical skills that the team feels you should have to succeeded at the job.

my 2cents
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#15 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interview Tips

Posted 16 April 2008 - 10:57 PM

The white board idea sounds kick ass. I hope they make me do it when I begin interviewing. I love pressure, yummy.
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