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Production Hacks

We have one hour to ship

January 4th 2013

We sat hunched over a laptop in a well-lit room. I explained the programming challenge without looking away from the computer screen. From the corner of my eye, I saw the candidate nodding along. Then I turned to him, slid the laptop over, and smiled as I said, “We have one hour to ship a solution to this problem. You drive”.

This is how I interview software developers. After experimenting with different styles and techniques, I have found that simulating an hour of real work will give me the best feedback on a candidate. But most important of all, it answers my main questions:

  • 1) Can they work as a team?
  • 2) Can they get things done?
  • 3) Skill wise, where are they now and where can I take them?

In my experience, questions 1 and 2 are rarely answered during an interview cycle. It shouldn’t have to be that way. Invest an hour and get the surprises out the way.

After all, what better way to find out if they can do the job than actually doing it?

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