Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Interviews Are Tests

Yesterday I had a candidate in for an interview. Now, one of the things we do in interviews that's kind of odd is a fair amount of semi-formal testing. It's nothing out of the ordinary, but we perform a couple of exercises to see how candidates approach various testing problems. For example, we hand over a spec and ask the candidate to design a test strategy for it. Or we ask candidates to sit down in front of a program and find bugs.

For the record, there are no "how long does it take to move Mt. Fuji ten feet to the left" questions.

Every once in a while I get a curve ball. A candidate will come in, I'll explain what's going to happen today, and he'll say, "Oh, I don't take tests."

I hate to break it to you, buddy,* but:

Interviews ARE tests.

The interview is a chance for the company to test the candidate. It's a way to assess skills, to see how the candidate reacts under stress (even if you don't need the job, interviews are stressful). It's a way to determine whether the candidate fits in with the company culture, and to figure out if that glowing resume is real gold or fools gold. Without actually testing the candidates knowledge and claims, it's very difficult to tell the difference between a good candidate and a good resume.


Is not the same as this:**

On the flip side, the candidate gets to test the company, too. How does the manager react to bad news? Is there any sort of scary culture aspect? Does the company support the candidate learning and furthering his own career?

Every time I interview a candidate, I know I'm taking a test. And the candidate is taking a test, too. So as far as I'm concerned, any candidate who "doesn't take tests" is not really interested in interviewing.

* Can you tell I really don't like the attitude? And actually, I don't really hate to break it to you. It's just an expression.

** For the record, the top picture is fool's gold (aka iron pyrite) and the bottom picture is real gold.

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