Code examples for job interview

Discussion in 'Java' started by Rhino, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. Rhino

    Rhino Guest

    I am about to start a job search as a Java developer. I've never looked for
    a job as a Java developer before, having spent earlier parts of my career as
    a DBA and instructor, so I need some guidance on what to expect.

    I am pretty much entirely self-taught as a Java developer and I am not
    certified in any Java skills. Despite that, I've been writing Java code,
    mostly on my own time, for several years now and feel that I could do a
    decent job at an intermediate level development job. The problem is that I
    probably need to prove that.

    I was thinking that some examples of my code would demonstrate that. (I'd be
    prepared to talk at length about the code and what it does in case anyone
    thought I'd just stolen it from somewhere.)

    The question is: what samples should I provide? I'm wondering about the
    number of samples, the size of each sample, and the format of the samples.
    Also, what medium should I use for the samples: CD; download links on a
    webpage; printed copies?

    I'm also wondering about intellectual property issues. If I give out code
    that I wrote while on a project where I'd signed a non-disclosure agreement,
    I'd be at some legal risk if that ever got back to the client, wouldn't I?
    So how would I proceed? Just say "Trust me, I did write some good code for
    that client but I can't show it to you?". Is that going to be acceptable to
    an interviewer? How do people normally handle that?

    What about code that I developed for past employers? Even without a
    non-disclosure agreement, don't I have some sort of obligation not to
    disclose details of work I did for an employer? After all, if the
    prospective employer is a competitor of the past employer and the
    prospective employer learns something about the programs and/or business
    practices and/or computer systems that his competitor uses, aren't I
    basically blabbing something that I learned in confidence when working for
    the past employer?

    Please note that I'm not asking anyone for binding legal judgements on the
    legality of anything; I know none of us are lawyers. I'm just asking how
    this sort of thing is handled every day in job interviews around the world:
    do interviewees typically produce examples of their work from past employers
    or clients and, if they do, is that considered a negative by the interviewer
    or an accepted business practice? Is anyone aware of cases where there were
    negative consequences for the interviewee or past employer when examples of
    old code were disclosed to prospective employers?

    One other thing. I was thinking that my samples might include both Java and
    non-Java code; after all, programming is programming (to some extent) and
    being able to display working programs written in other languages that I got
    as a salaried developer ought to count for something. Does it make sense to
    have non-Java samples handy as well or should I stick to examples that
    illustrate skills with the language(s) that the prospective employer would
    want me to use if he gives me the job?

    --
    Rhino
    Rhino, Feb 13, 2006
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. In article <kr4If.632$>,
    "Rhino" <> wrote:

    > I was thinking that some examples of my code would demonstrate that. (I'd be
    > prepared to talk at length about the code and what it does in case anyone
    > thought I'd just stolen it from somewhere.)


    The few times I have interviewed for myself, rather than trying to sell
    our consulting services, I brought code samples written up for that
    specific job interview, and stats on the real code they represent.

    Spend an evening writing up a toy problem, or a toy class. Be up front
    - 'I cannot reveal the code I have written under contract, but this has
    many of the same characteristics - getters, setters, unit tests, code
    coverage, minimal but complete docs, etc.' Then discuss ways in which
    this code is similar to or different from that which you normally would
    do. For example, 'I have written a few thousand lines of numerical
    analysis code. This is representative of it in style, method length,
    metrics, etc.'

    Talk about how your own projects differ from ones for pay. 'Half my
    current clients use CVS, half use subversion. I use subversion through
    the svnserve daemon for personal projects. I have found [stuff you have
    found].'

    They know you prettied up your code sample; being up front about it, and
    in what ways, is a darn good idea. It then goes from a point of risk to
    a source of questions and comments. For example - 'The setters are, as
    you would expect, boilerplate generated by IDEA. I do try to be very
    careful about exposing API, since then I am stuck with it for future
    releases.' This turns a discussion about some code you prettied up into
    a discussion about OO philosophy, and how you treat encapsulation.

    You NEVER want to bring something you did for another employer without
    permission. Not only does it put you in legal hot water, it also tells
    your new potential employer that you are willing to violate an NDA for
    convenience.

    Scott

    --
    Scott Ellsworth

    Java and database consulting for the life sciences
    Scott Ellsworth, Feb 13, 2006
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. Rhino

    Eric Sosman Guest

    Rhino wrote On 02/13/06 13:44,:
    > I am about to start a job search as a Java developer. I've never looked for
    > a job as a Java developer before, having spent earlier parts of my career as
    > a DBA and instructor, so I need some guidance on what to expect.
    >
    > I am pretty much entirely self-taught as a Java developer and I am not
    > certified in any Java skills. Despite that, I've been writing Java code,
    > mostly on my own time, for several years now and feel that I could do a
    > decent job at an intermediate level development job. The problem is that I
    > probably need to prove that.
    >
    > I was thinking that some examples of my code would demonstrate that. (I'd be
    > prepared to talk at length about the code and what it does in case anyone
    > thought I'd just stolen it from somewhere.)
    >
    > The question is: what samples should I provide? I'm wondering about the
    > number of samples, the size of each sample, and the format of the samples.
    > Also, what medium should I use for the samples: CD; download links on a
    > webpage; printed copies?


    This seems like something you should ask before the
    interview.

    > I'm also wondering about intellectual property issues. If I give out code
    > that I wrote while on a project where I'd signed a non-disclosure agreement,
    > I'd be at some legal risk if that ever got back to the client, wouldn't I?
    > So how would I proceed? Just say "Trust me, I did write some good code for
    > that client but I can't show it to you?". Is that going to be acceptable to
    > an interviewer? How do people normally handle that?


    Show something you wrote on your own time for your
    own purposes. (That, at least, is what I did on the only
    occasion I was asked for a code sample.) If you haven't
    written anything you can clearly claim as your own, now
    might be a good time to start ...

    > What about code that I developed for past employers? Even without a
    > non-disclosure agreement, don't I have some sort of obligation not to
    > disclose details of work I did for an employer? After all, if the
    > prospective employer is a competitor of the past employer and the
    > prospective employer learns something about the programs and/or business
    > practices and/or computer systems that his competitor uses, aren't I
    > basically blabbing something that I learned in confidence when working for
    > the past employer?


    IANAL, but the code you wrote for past employers probably
    belongs to them, not to you. You almost certainly signed a
    piece of paper granting the company ownership of anything you
    developed on company time; some such agreements extend even to
    things you did on off-hours while in the company's employ. For
    safety's sake I'd steer clear of such samples, and if you really
    want to use them you'd better get legal advice first. Also,
    consider the impression you'll make on the interviewer: "This
    guy's showing me a former employer's family jewels. Am I eager
    to trust him with mine?"

    > Please note that I'm not asking anyone for binding legal judgements on the
    > legality of anything; I know none of us are lawyers. I'm just asking how
    > this sort of thing is handled every day in job interviews around the world:
    > do interviewees typically produce examples of their work from past employers
    > or clients and, if they do, is that considered a negative by the interviewer
    > or an accepted business practice? Is anyone aware of cases where there were
    > negative consequences for the interviewee or past employer when examples of
    > old code were disclosed to prospective employers?


    Well, I'll offer my lone data point again: Forty years as
    a programmer, thirty-five of them as a professional, and in
    all that time ONE request for code samples. Draw your own
    conclusions.

    > One other thing. I was thinking that my samples might include both Java and
    > non-Java code; after all, programming is programming (to some extent) and
    > being able to display working programs written in other languages that I got
    > as a salaried developer ought to count for something. Does it make sense to
    > have non-Java samples handy as well or should I stick to examples that
    > illustrate skills with the language(s) that the prospective employer would
    > want me to use if he gives me the job?


    Depends on the job. When I have interviewed prospective
    employees I have never worried about their skills with this
    or that programming language, nor with the technology du jour.
    Fifteen years ago everybody wanted Xwindows programmers; ten
    years ago it was Visual Basic programmers, five years ago it was
    Java programmers, today it's Web services programmers, tomorrow
    it will be ...? Things change, and change rapidly, so I always
    looked for people who had shown they could solve problems, not
    for people who could tell me the minutiae of different versions
    of Lisp.

    But don't overlook that "depends on the job" part. If the
    employer's goal is to solve problems of type X and he happens
    to be using Java as the solution vehicle, he'll be (I think)
    looking for problem-solvers, not Java Jeniuses. On the other
    hand, if the employer's goal is specifically to Do Stuff In
    Java, he'll probably have a different attitude. You've got to
    study the prospective employer at least as carefully as he
    studies you.

    --
    Eric Sosman, Feb 13, 2006
    #3
  4. > I am pretty much entirely self-taught as a Java developer and I am not
    > certified in any Java skills. Despite that, I've been writing Java code,
    > mostly on my own time, for several years now and feel that I could do a
    > decent job at an intermediate level development job. The problem is that I
    > probably need to prove that.
    >

    That's how almost everyone starts off...
    The kids fresh out of school may have Java on their resumes but they know as
    little (or likely less) than you do, and a decent recruiter (and certainly
    an technical person) knows that and will appreciate that you at least know
    how the real world works,

    > I was thinking that some examples of my code would demonstrate that. (I'd
    > be prepared to talk at length about the code and what it does in case
    > anyone thought I'd just stolen it from somewhere.)
    >

    I've never in a decade of working as a programmer been asked for any code I
    worked on.
    Code you write for an employer or under contract belongs to that employer so
    noone can expect you to show it to anyone.
    Hobby code while nice isn't generally expected to be in the same league.

    > The question is: what samples should I provide? I'm wondering about the
    > number of samples, the size of each sample, and the format of the samples.
    > Also, what medium should I use for the samples: CD; download links on a
    > webpage; printed copies?
    >

    Never assume the person interviewing you has anything available apart from
    hopefully a desk, a piece of paper, a pen, and seats for both of you (I've
    had interviews where there was less!).
    Draw your own conclusions from that :)

    > I'm also wondering about intellectual property issues. If I give out code
    > that I wrote while on a project where I'd signed a non-disclosure
    > agreement, I'd be at some legal risk if that ever got back to the client,
    > wouldn't I? So how would I proceed? Just say "Trust me, I did write some
    > good code for that client but I can't show it to you?". Is that going to
    > be acceptable to an interviewer? How do people normally handle that?
    >

    See above, no interviewer would expect you to hand over code you wrote for
    others. If they ask it's a trick question and you're supposed to answer just
    that, that you can't hand over code you don't own.

    > What about code that I developed for past employers? Even without a
    > non-disclosure agreement, don't I have some sort of obligation not to
    > disclose details of work I did for an employer? After all, if the

    yes you do. You don't own the code.
    Maybe if the past employer went bankrupt while you were in their employ and
    noone picked up the smoking remains you could argue that the code is part of
    what they owned you, but it's still shaky and I'd sooner consider that code
    lost forever (I do keep some such in my private library, but only as a
    reference to check algorithms and methods I used in the past, I'd never
    reuse it verbatim).

    > Please note that I'm not asking anyone for binding legal judgements on the
    > legality of anything; I know none of us are lawyers. I'm just asking how
    > this sort of thing is handled every day in job interviews around the
    > world: do interviewees typically produce examples of their work from past
    > employers or clients and, if they do, is that considered a negative by the
    > interviewer or an accepted business practice? Is anyone aware of cases
    > where there were negative consequences for the interviewee or past
    > employer when examples of old code were disclosed to prospective
    > employers?
    >

    If I were to interview someone and he'd show me code telling me he wrote it
    for another company the interview would be over there and then and that
    person would not get hired.
    I might even contact that company and tell them one of their (ex)employees
    has shown me intellectual property belonging to them to cover my own ass and
    that of my own employer in case there is ever an argument.

    > One other thing. I was thinking that my samples might include both Java
    > and non-Java code; after all, programming is programming (to some extent)
    > and being able to display working programs written in other languages that
    > I got as a salaried developer ought to count for something. Does it make
    > sense to have non-Java samples handy as well or should I stick to examples
    > that illustrate skills with the language(s) that the prospective employer
    > would want me to use if he gives me the job?
    >

    Knowledge of more than one environment is always good. Shows you are not
    extremely narrowly focussed.
    Jeroen Wenting, Feb 13, 2006
    #4
  5. Rhino

    Daniel Dyer Guest

    On Mon, 13 Feb 2006 18:44:37 -0000, Rhino
    <> wrote:

    > I was thinking that some examples of my code would demonstrate that.
    > (I'd be
    > prepared to talk at length about the code and what it does in case anyone
    > thought I'd just stolen it from somewhere.)
    >
    > The question is: what samples should I provide? I'm wondering about the
    > number of samples, the size of each sample, and the format of the
    > samples.
    > Also, what medium should I use for the samples: CD; download links on a
    > webpage; printed copies?


    If you do need to take some code along it's probably best to take a CD (or
    USB key) and a hard copy, then you can use whichever is more convenient.

    Take the code along, it can't hurt to have something to show if the
    opportunity arises, but it probably won't be necessary. One of the most
    challenging interviews I had was a pen and paper session with their senior
    developer. We discussed various Java problems and how I would approach
    them, discussed design patterns etc. for about an hour. I think after
    that they had a good idea of what I could and could not do.

    > I'm also wondering about intellectual property issues. If I give out code
    > that I wrote while on a project where I'd signed a non-disclosure
    > agreement,
    > I'd be at some legal risk if that ever got back to the client, wouldn't
    > I?
    > So how would I proceed? Just say "Trust me, I did write some good code
    > for
    > that client but I can't show it to you?". Is that going to be acceptable
    > to
    > an interviewer? How do people normally handle that?
    >
    > What about code that I developed for past employers? Even without a
    > non-disclosure agreement, don't I have some sort of obligation not to
    > disclose details of work I did for an employer? After all, if the
    > prospective employer is a competitor of the past employer and the
    > prospective employer learns something about the programs and/or business
    > practices and/or computer systems that his competitor uses, aren't I
    > basically blabbing something that I learned in confidence when working
    > for
    > the past employer?


    As others have said DO NOT take along code from a previous employer. It
    creates a very bad impression of your trustworthiness. It makes you look
    like the kind of person that would upload all of their source code to
    Sourceforge. They know you aren't allowed to show it to them, so don't.

    > One other thing. I was thinking that my samples might include both Java
    > and
    > non-Java code; after all, programming is programming (to some extent) and
    > being able to display working programs written in other languages that I
    > got
    > as a salaried developer ought to count for something. Does it make sense
    > to
    > have non-Java samples handy as well or should I stick to examples that
    > illustrate skills with the language(s) that the prospective employer
    > would
    > want me to use if he gives me the job?


    Code in other languages is OK, but be careful not to let it overshadow
    what you have to offer as a Java developer. You are right that it
    displays a general programming competence, but the company will be keen to
    see what you can do with Java, as they will want you to be productive in
    that as soon as possible if you get the job. Also, the interviewer may
    not be familiar with the other language. What I know about VB can be
    written on the back of a postage stamp, so when candidates spend 20
    minutes discussing their VB projects it's a waste of both our time (not
    compeletely, but on the whole).

    If you want to do some preparation for the interviews, I would recommend
    getting hold of the books "Effective Java" by Joshua Bloch, and "Design
    Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software" by Gamma et al.,
    if you don't have them already. These two books, more than any others I
    have come across, are pretty much essential reading for any professional
    Java developer.

    Dan.

    --
    Daniel Dyer
    http://www.dandyer.co.uk
    Daniel Dyer, Feb 13, 2006
    #5
  6. Rhino

    Rhino Guest

    "Rhino" <> wrote in message
    news:kr4If.632$...
    >I am about to start a job search as a Java developer. I've never looked for
    >a job as a Java developer before, having spent earlier parts of my career
    >as a DBA and instructor, so I need some guidance on what to expect.
    >
    > I am pretty much entirely self-taught as a Java developer and I am not
    > certified in any Java skills. Despite that, I've been writing Java code,
    > mostly on my own time, for several years now and feel that I could do a
    > decent job at an intermediate level development job. The problem is that I
    > probably need to prove that.
    >
    > I was thinking that some examples of my code would demonstrate that. (I'd
    > be prepared to talk at length about the code and what it does in case
    > anyone thought I'd just stolen it from somewhere.)
    >
    > The question is: what samples should I provide? I'm wondering about the
    > number of samples, the size of each sample, and the format of the samples.
    > Also, what medium should I use for the samples: CD; download links on a
    > webpage; printed copies?
    >
    > I'm also wondering about intellectual property issues. If I give out code
    > that I wrote while on a project where I'd signed a non-disclosure
    > agreement, I'd be at some legal risk if that ever got back to the client,
    > wouldn't I? So how would I proceed? Just say "Trust me, I did write some
    > good code for that client but I can't show it to you?". Is that going to
    > be acceptable to an interviewer? How do people normally handle that?
    >
    > What about code that I developed for past employers? Even without a
    > non-disclosure agreement, don't I have some sort of obligation not to
    > disclose details of work I did for an employer? After all, if the
    > prospective employer is a competitor of the past employer and the
    > prospective employer learns something about the programs and/or business
    > practices and/or computer systems that his competitor uses, aren't I
    > basically blabbing something that I learned in confidence when working for
    > the past employer?
    >
    > Please note that I'm not asking anyone for binding legal judgements on the
    > legality of anything; I know none of us are lawyers. I'm just asking how
    > this sort of thing is handled every day in job interviews around the
    > world: do interviewees typically produce examples of their work from past
    > employers or clients and, if they do, is that considered a negative by the
    > interviewer or an accepted business practice? Is anyone aware of cases
    > where there were negative consequences for the interviewee or past
    > employer when examples of old code were disclosed to prospective
    > employers?
    >
    > One other thing. I was thinking that my samples might include both Java
    > and non-Java code; after all, programming is programming (to some extent)
    > and being able to display working programs written in other languages that
    > I got as a salaried developer ought to count for something. Does it make
    > sense to have non-Java samples handy as well or should I stick to examples
    > that illustrate skills with the language(s) that the prospective employer
    > would want me to use if he gives me the job?
    >

    Thank you all for your feedback to my questions.

    I'm very happy to see that your ethics match my own. I was very
    uncomfortable about the thought of showing an interviewer code that I had
    written commercially for someone else but I thought maybe I was
    "old-fashioned".

    I'm disappointed that code samples are so rarely used in interviews to
    assess a candidate's competence but it's very understandable given the
    ethical concerns.

    Unfortunately, I've just spent several weeks developing a fairly impressive
    example of my code when it seems I should have been out knocking on doors
    trying to get interviews. It sounds as if few if any interviewers will
    actually want to see my code. Obviously (in hindsight), I should have asked
    these questions _before_ expending a big effort on making a good example. I
    couldn't think of any better way to prove my competence rather than
    expecting an interviewer to take my word for it so I just went ahead,
    assuming it would help me.

    The code I've written in the last few weeks was a resume generator and was
    done entirely by me and for me so I can still use it to show the interviewer
    my abilities. I suppose I shouldn't expect him/her to ask to see it though!

    Apparently, the interviewer is going to assess my abilities based on some
    combination of:
    - what I tell him in my resume and in person
    - what past employers/clients tell him/her, assuming the interviewer
    contacts them
    - a technical interview by someone who will ask me questions about how I
    would solve certain problems that he/she will pose at that time

    I'm not too worried about the first two of those but I'm not as sure about
    the third. I'm afraid my OO theory is not that great yet and I may get badly
    messed up if I try to talk in OO jargon for any length of time. Well, I'll
    just have to do my best and keep my fingers crossed, won't I?

    Thanks again for your feedback everyone!

    --
    Rhino
    Rhino, Feb 13, 2006
    #6
  7. Rhino

    Adam Maass Guest

    "Rhino" <> wrote:
    >I am about to start a job search as a Java developer. I've never looked for
    >a job as a Java developer before, having spent earlier parts of my career
    >as a DBA and instructor, so I need some guidance on what to expect.
    >
    > I am pretty much entirely self-taught as a Java developer and I am not
    > certified in any Java skills. Despite that, I've been writing Java code,
    > mostly on my own time, for several years now and feel that I could do a
    > decent job at an intermediate level development job. The problem is that I
    > probably need to prove that.
    >


    Certainly. If you get through the door, there almost certainly will be a
    technical quiz or screen.

    > I was thinking that some examples of my code would demonstrate that. (I'd
    > be prepared to talk at length about the code and what it does in case
    > anyone thought I'd just stolen it from somewhere.)
    >
    > The question is: what samples should I provide? I'm wondering about the
    > number of samples, the size of each sample, and the format of the samples.
    > Also, what medium should I use for the samples: CD; download links on a
    > webpage; printed copies?
    >


    I wouldn't bother with samples unless specifically asked to provide some.
    This does ocassionally happen, in which case...

    > I'm also wondering about intellectual property issues. If I give out code
    > that I wrote while on a project where I'd signed a non-disclosure
    > agreement, I'd be at some legal risk if that ever got back to the client,
    > wouldn't I? So how would I proceed? Just say "Trust me, I did write some
    > good code for that client but I can't show it to you?". Is that going to
    > be acceptable to an interviewer? How do people normally handle that?
    >
    > What about code that I developed for past employers? Even without a
    > non-disclosure agreement, don't I have some sort of obligation not to
    > disclose details of work I did for an employer? After all, if the
    > prospective employer is a competitor of the past employer and the
    > prospective employer learns something about the programs and/or business
    > practices and/or computer systems that his competitor uses, aren't I
    > basically blabbing something that I learned in confidence when working for
    > the past employer?
    >


    IANAL (I am not a lawyer). But: In the US, the IP you produce as a salaried
    employee belongs to your employer. [Way to go, capitalism!] The IP you
    produce as an independent contractor belongs to you unless there is an
    agreement otherwise [as is generally the case].

    This leaves you with a choice, if you are asked to provide a code sample:

    1) Live with the risk of showing them work you produced for another entity.
    As you've pointed out, this isn't quite kosher, but generally speaking, it
    probably won't get back to anyone.

    2) Ask if there's a sample problem that they'd like you to work instead.
    This involves extra effort on your part, but eliminates the risk of option
    1.

    3) Third option: work a small problem on your own; have it at the ready.
    (Small problem generally means 1 class that solves your typical CS problem:
    an implementation of a standard data structure, maybe. I was once asked to
    implement a "Quack" as a sample -- which was cross between a Stack and a
    Queue.)

    [snip]

    >
    > One other thing. I was thinking that my samples might include both Java
    > and non-Java code; after all, programming is programming (to some extent)
    > and being able to display working programs written in other languages that
    > I got as a salaried developer ought to count for something. Does it make
    > sense to have non-Java samples handy as well or should I stick to examples
    > that illustrate skills with the language(s) that the prospective employer
    > would want me to use if he gives me the job?
    >


    You must be ready to provide samples in whatever language and/or format your
    prospect demands. Some will want Java; others will admit practically
    anything.
    Adam Maass, Feb 14, 2006
    #7
  8. Rhino

    Adam Maass Guest

    "Rhino" <> wrote:
    >
    >. I'm afraid my OO theory is not that great yet and I may get badly messed
    >up if I try to talk in OO jargon for any length of time. Well, I'll just
    >have to do my best and keep my fingers crossed, won't I?
    >


    In which case, just talk about how you would approach the problem, steering
    clear of the jargon you're not clear on.

    Technical screens will generally pose very common problems; take your time
    when they're posed to be sure your answers are correct, or admit an "I don't
    know." As an interviewer, I find incorrect answers irritating, and an
    interviewee who sticks to her guns when challenged to defend an incorrect
    answer a sign of doom. That is, assuming that you get questions that have
    right and wrong answers.

    -- Adam Maass
    Adam Maass, Feb 14, 2006
    #8
  9. Rhino

    stixwix Guest

    Eric Sosman wrote:

    "This guy's showing me a former employer's family jewels. Am I eager
    > to trust him with mine?"
    >

    That's a powerful image!
    stixwix, Feb 14, 2006
    #9
  10. Rhino

    Eric Sosman Guest

    Rhino wrote On 02/13/06 18:02,:
    > [...]
    > I'm disappointed that code samples are so rarely used in interviews to
    > assess a candidate's competence but it's very understandable given the
    > ethical concerns.


    There's also the little matter of time. If someone
    handed you a dozen *.java source files containing twenty
    or thirty classes and interfaces, how much time would it
    take you to get to know the program well enough to be in
    a position to evaluate the various design trade-offs? The
    interviewer usually has other responsibilities besides
    conducting interviews, and probably lacks the luxury of
    spending half a day or more poring over code samples from
    a dozen interviewees.

    > [...]
    > Apparently, the interviewer is going to assess my abilities based on some
    > combination of:
    > - what I tell him in my resume and in person
    > - what past employers/clients tell him/her, assuming the interviewer
    > contacts them
    > - a technical interview by someone who will ask me questions about how I
    > would solve certain problems that he/she will pose at that time


    A variation on the last point: I almost never asked a
    prospect about how he'd solve some hypothetical technical
    problem, but asked him to describe a technical problem he
    actually had solved. Then I'd start drilling down from
    there. You chose approach X; what alternatives did you
    consider? Why did you decide X was better than Y? When
    you actually went ahead with X, did you get the benefits
    you'd expected? What difficulties, expected and unexpected,
    did you run into, and how did you deal with them? In
    retrospect, do you still think X was right, or have you
    thought of a Z that you now think would have been better?
    And so on, and so on. I think this gave me a pretty good
    picture of how the interviewee works, of whether he'll learn
    from experience -- and if he's claiming to have done something
    he actually doesn't know anything about, I think this sort of
    questioning will expose the fraud pretty quickly!

    --
    Eric Sosman, Feb 14, 2006
    #10
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