The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: interviewing a developer.

As a developer I have been through many different types of interviews. Some greater than others, but in general I think they are missing very important questions. And asking the wrong ones.

Most of the interviewers just look for experience and skills. Is this the correct approach? Might actually depend on the position, but most of the times I would say passion and potential are way more important.

If a developer knows how OAuth or how encryption works, does this make a certain person a better fit than another one that doesn’t know it? Isn’t this something a developer could just learn in a couple of hours by reading an article?

In most of the interviews I have had, I felt I was asked irrelevant questions. It’s true that knowing certain things can be useful, but how long can it take to a developer to level up his or her skills? I have worked with junior developers with zero commercial experience that in three months became far more productive than intermediate developers that had three years of experience. And guess who is cheaper.

I would say questions like “What’s one of the things you feel most proud” will be far more revealing about the candidate’s personality. Undoubtedly the most interesting interviews I have had were the ones I had with Facebook. They don’t care about your experience or your degree. They gave me a week to study algorithms and sent me some coding puzzles. After that week I had an interview where I was randomly given different puzzles that I had solve in that precise moment within 30 minutes. They were definitely looking for talent and potential.

Certainly this type of questions might not be suitable for every single position. Some positions actually need a lot of experience, mainly for high leading roles. But if you have one expert and many developers with potential, they could all rapidly become experts.

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