Andy Pols CTO, Entrepreneur

Pair Interviewing

I noticed an interesting discussion on the IXP mailing list about pair programming with developers during an interview. I was surprised by the number of people who thought it was a bad idea.

I have done a lot interviewing for various companies and one of the best ways to find out the beliefs and values of a software developer is to look at their code. The best way to know what someone is like to work with is to work with them! This is why I really like pair programming interviews. It’s one of the best interview techniques I know.

Another nice feature of a pair-programming interview is the continual conversation you have with the candidate. It provides you with ample opportunities to ask sensible questions about the code you are writing. This gives the candidate a better understanding of why you are asking the question. There’s nothing worse than crazy interview questions that make no sense!

There are certain things you have to be aware of. You have to be very good at putting people at ease. You need to explain why you are running the interview like this. Some people get very nervous at an interview. You have to treat it as if you are pairing with a colleague. If people get stuck, you should help them out.

An interview is a two way process. The candidate also gets a much more realistic idea of what it would be like being in the team. They see what it’s like working with the team and experience the development environment first hand.

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