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The Secret to Meaningful Technical Interviews

Two women sitting in an office having a technical interview

What’s the secret to meaningful technical interviews? To me, it’s the technical case study discussion. I think coding exercises (what I’ll refer to as “code kata”) are mostly a waste of time in interviews for most technical positions where those skills really aren’t the critical indicators of job success.

In my anecdotal hiring experience, code kata assessments appear only mildly correlated with the candidate-company fit, at best. At @ArcaniumSoftware, after many hundreds of technical interviews, we believe that we learn more about a candidate by engaging in a wide-ranging technical discussion framed around a real-world case study with the candidate.

In a technical case study discussion, one where we might update requirements or throw in unexpected incidents, we can assess a candidate’s software architecture skills, problem-solving capacity, ability to meet evolving technical requirements, tech outlook, and communication and collaboration skills.

While a candidate may or may not represent their skills accurately when solving a code kata problem, a technical case study discussion gives them ample opportunity to demonstrate their best qualities. And it’s their best performance that we are really interested in, right?

Do you believe code kata assessments should be included in the technical interview? Have you tried technical case study discussions? What does your technical interview look like?

-Miles Aron

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