Interview Questions (was: Brainbench)

Joel Bernstein joel at
Wed Sep 5 23:12:16 BST 2012

On 5 September 2012 23:15, Daniel Perrett <perrettdl at> wrote:
> The fib(n) task as stated tests three things of the candidate

You're missing a key point of interviewing. The task is used to test
how the candidate thinks, how they ask questions, how they explore a
problem space etc. It has to be discussed and interpreted - simply
marking an emailed submission of code to solve fib(n) would be

As an interviewer your job is to measure their abilities/deficits with
regard to understanding and exploring new subjects, at least as they
relate to the kind of work you'll be asking them to do. It's not even
just about assuring yourself that they're capable of doing the job,
you need to be sure it's a job that will satisfy and interest them.
I've never set anybody the fib() test but I find it very enlightening
to work through a programming task with a prospective candidate.

Really I find interviews are less about individual questions or tasks,
and more about where the conversation goes based on them, and the
interviewer's abilities to steer the conversation and to assess the
candidate based on those discussions. Which is one reason why
pre-interview screening tests for developers only go so far. It is
arguable of course that my methods may select for more articulate
programmers but I do try to ensure that the interviews are relaxed and
friendly. If a capable engineer can't communicate in those
circumstances there's always a doubt about how much they will be able
to offer in a team anyway.


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