Here Is The Main Reason Why You Suck At Interviews

Interview failI've talked about interviews from one perspective or another on several occasions, you might even say it is a pet subject of mine. It's fascinating because most people are no good at interviews and when it comes to developer interviews – well; let's just say there is a whole new dimension for us to suck at with coding questions, whiteboards and whatnot. Of course, the other side of the equation is not pristine here, the interviewer can be just as much to blame for a terrible interview, either through lack of training, empathy, preparation or a host of other reasons, but that's a whole separate discussion. So, why are we so bad at interviews? You can probably think of quite a few reasons straight away:

  • it is a high pressure situation, you were nervous
  • you just didn't "click" with the interviewer
  • you were asked all the "wrong" questions
  • sometimes you just have a bad day

99 Out Of 100 Programmers Can’t Program – I Call Bullshit!

BullshitSomething has always struck me as a little bit off, about that "statistic" (or its equally unlikely brothers, 199 out of 200, 19 out of 20 etc.). I remember reading Joel's post alluding to this back in the day, then Jeff's a couple of years ago, there were a few others, most recently this one. And as much as I want to just accept it (for reasons of self-aggrandisement), I can't. I've been in this industry for a few years now, in that time, I've met some really good developers, a bunch of average ones, even the odd crappy one, but I am yet to meet the veritable army of totally useless non-programming programmers that must surely exist if those numbers are accurate (the "architects" don't count :P).

Why Should Top Developers Seek You Out?

Whenever I see the latest post about how hard it is to hire good people, because x out of y developers are useless, one question immediately springs to mind. Is that x out of y applicants, or x out of y working developers? There is a massive distinction. Unless you're a company trying to compile stats by doing an industry-wide study, you can't really comment on the skill levels of all working programmers in any authoritative fashion. So, we must be talking about x out of y applicants. But once again, it's not applicants in general it's applicants to YOUR company. All of a sudden the headline is:

How To Answer A Programming Interview Question And Look Good Doing It

Look goodRather than continuing to talk about how hardcore developers should have hardcore math fu, I'd like to shift the focus a little to softer skills (although, as I said, I will come back to math stuff often). I believe that technical people should place even more of an emphasis on soft/people skills than non-techies (I mentioned this in one of the comments to my last post). I will expand on my reasons for this in a later post. In the meantime let's just take it as a given and look at the value of these skills in a technical interview situation.

The thing with a programming interview, or any interview for that matter, is the fact that it is more of a conversation rather than a grilling. The company, and by extension the interviewer, has just as much invested in the process as the interviewee and therefore want to get the most information from the time they spent talking to you as they possibly can. Of course, in a programming interview the main objective is to assess your skills, but people rarely make decisions regarding other people (e.g. hiring decisions) based on hard factual data:

The Best Way To Interview A Developer

InterviewLets face it, traditional interviewing techniques absolutely suck when it comes to hiring developers. You read resumes, you do phone interviews, technical interviews, culture-fit interviews, tests and in the end you basically ‘go with your gut’ and hire people who might be good and still get it wrong half the time. Not an ideal situation. This is because developers are craftsmen and no amount of talk will tell you how good a craftsman is at what he (or she :)) does.

Why Traditional Interviews Fail

How much preparation time do you give your people when you ask then to help with the interview process? Chances are it is probably not much (if it’s anything greater than 5 minutes you’re already ahead of the game :)), so your interviewers end up reading the resume literally as they are walking to the interview and I am not even going to talk about actually preparing some questions in advance. With this level of forethought, how likely are you to uncover anything you didn’t already know from the resume? Even when people have some preparation time, how much training have they got in interviewing techniques? Interviewing is a skill just like any other, having great social skills does not a good interviewer make :). People don’t know the right kinds of questions to ask and even when they accidentally ask the right question, don’t know what to look for in the answer they are given.

Interview With The ‘I Drink Your Milkshake’ Snorg Tees Girl

Tara The Snorg Tees Girl

Well, the internet definitely works in case anyone was wondering. A few months ago I wrote a post about snorg tees girls, the idea was to let the internet and social media find some snorg tees models for me so I could interview them. The post didn’t go popular on any social media (although it seems to be doing well on Google now :)), so I pretty much gave up on my idea and moved on. But, the web works in mysterious ways and a few months after the post went live I was able to get in touch with Tara (I won’t bore you with the details) who was one of the 5 girls in my original post (#4 to be precise). She was nice enough to agree to do an interview with me.

Of course being a bit burnt out on blogging (and really slack) I didn’t post the interview for ages, but eventually I decided to write it up and so here it is, my interview with the ‘I Drink Your Milkshake’ snorg tees girl.

1. Are you a vegetarian, vegan or predator?

5 Awesome Snorg Tees Girls – A Social Media Experiment

Update: Well I got at least one of the interviews that I wanted from this post, and here it is:

- Interview With The ‘I Drink Your Mikshake’ Snorg Tees Girl

I love Snorg Tees (you know those t-shirt ads you keep seeing on digg.com, explosm.net and everywhere else), well to be more precise I love their ads, well to be even more precise I love the girls who model the t-shirts in the ads (so I am a guy and I like girls, so sue me :)).

I recently came across some blog posts here and here, talking about Alice the original snorg tees girl and even an interview with her in another post here (she seems like a nice girl). However after reading these posts I realised that there are a few other snorg tees girls that I really like, so I thought I’d create this small list and to make it even more interesting I thought I’d turn in into an experiment in the power of social media.