Sunday, August 2, 2009

Interviews 2.0

I've been doing some J2EE screening interviews for my company, over the phone. Some trends:
  • Candidates google as they go, so feature questions like What's the difference between a HashMap and a HashTable? have almost no value. All you're testing is how quickly and quietly the candidate can type.

  • Candidates have found a quasi-ethical way to embellish their resumes: describe a project in detail, but don't say which pieces you worked on. List every tool/technology used in the project, whether or not you were the one using it.

    Of course, this is pretty easy to blow apart. I've gotten some amusing explanations of Ajax from people who maybe used it once to clean a sink. Which brings us to...

  • Don't just ask people to explain a technology. Ask them how they've used it on a project. Any candidate who answers with an accurate general description of the technology probably hasn't used it much. A candidate who can tell you what he's done with the technology, the problems he ran into, how he worked around them - he's telling you the truth. Bonus points if he gets animated while he's talking about it.
Experience is hard to fake, even over the phone with a browser open.

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