I spent the day yesterday interviewing programmers for a new start-up near Bristol. It’s a job I love. I’m always intrigued to hear about peoples' careers and how the approach the challenges we present. For me recruiting a programmer has to start with code. I don’t really care about the CV and the application process for this job involved a quick coding problem. Passionate programmers are able to communicate their ability far more easily through code than by describing their experiences.
Traditionally interviews usually start with a discussion about the role and the candidate’s past experience. It’s often an uncomfortable conversation, everyone is a bit nervous and out of their comfort zone and I rarely get anything useful from it. I’ve learn’t that if you start with code, sitting side by side, sharing thoughts on the pre-interview problem, good candidates quickly relax. Then is the time to asking questions that go beyond programming. For me these questions focus on how they like to collaborate with others. I’ve noticed the answers I get after we’ve looked at code are very different. Some trust and mutual respect has been established and people tend to share more openly how they really feel.