Types of Interview Candidates

August 25, 2015 @ 10:24 am Posted to .Net, JavaScript by Antony Koch

The first question I like to ask interview candidates is to rate themselves out of 10 as a C# (or JavaScript) developer. I feel the question offers several insights into the candidate, as well as providing a solid base for the type, and depth, of questions one might ask.

Firstly it provides an opportunity for the candidate to think about the intent of what I’m asking and act accordingly: why is this important? Will I be hired based solely off of this answer? The answer to the latter question should obviously be a no, giving the former much greater meaning. In a range of 10 numbers spread across perhaps 10 or so candidates I’ve received exactly two numbers in response. 8.5 and 7.

The 8.5s

I’ve found that most developers who don’t get past the phone interview tend to rate themselves near a 9 out of 10. The reason for this is that they’re unaware of the breadth of .Net, falsely thinking that they’ve discovered all there is to discover and are masters of their domain. They’re often from small to medium sized companies and represent the smartest person in the room. Hubris has informed them it’s due to their talent, but the reality is that they’ve lacked a challenge and lack the desire to step outside their comfort zone and get stuck into some of the darker places software development can take them.

Simple questions tend to trip them up. Some of these niners mis-spell SOLID on their CVs. Seriously.

The 7s

This is the answer I would give, provided the opportunity to justify it. .Net is big. I know a lot of it, but I don’t know what I don’t know, but I know that there’s probably a lot I don’t know. This is I want to hear. A humble developer is one who tends to get their heads down and learn those things that they’ve just found out they don’t know. Good devs struggle to move positions sometimes, afraid they’re not good enough. Lesser devs are ignorant to their failings and consequently move often, positioning themselves in the same situation as they were in before, only at the new market rate.

That said, not all 7s are blinders. Some 7s are mid-level and consider themselves so. Some mid-level developers are considerably better. I would rate myself as a more senior developer given my experience, but then again: so does everyone else. This moves me into the loop of self doubt, hopefully reinforcing my previous statement about being self critical but possibly highlighting that you shouldn’t read this blog any more as it’s going to contain primarily garbage.

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