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Interviewing Skills: Communication is #1 July 31, 2009

Posted by Hank Wallace in Uncategorized.

I re-read The Hardest Interview Puzzle Question Ever by Jeff Atwood today. I have interviewed many, many programmers (and non-programmers) over the years and have always felt that it is, by far, more difficult than any of my daily responsibilities. Hiring good people is a critical factor to a company’s success, yet many people are really bad at evaluating others.

Jeff’s post made me think about the types of questions I usually ask and what I am looking for in a candidate. The questions differ based on the skills of the candidate, but here is what I am usually looking for:

  • Is the person passionate about something? I don’t care if it’s work related or not. I just want to know that they can get excited about something.
  • Do they have a need for continuous self-improvement?
  • Can they admit when they don’t know something? Nobody knows everything, so don’t guess or BS me. I would rather they admit they don’t know and then tell me how they will find the right answer.
  • Would the team enjoy working with this person?

What I was missing is a concentration on their communication skills. No matter how smart they are, they will not work well with other members of the team if they don’t communicate well!

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