How to do 12 half-hour programming interviews in a row?
January 18, 2014 7:04 AM Subscribe
I am programmer who has done dozens of phone screens and about a dozen on-site interviews. I will soon be sent back to my alma mater to do my first day of "on-campus interviews," which means they will put me in a room for seven hours and parade a dozen candidates through at half-hour intervals. Could anyone with experienced in this sort of thing look over my plan and give me any advice they have? I'm especially concerned about evaluating people fairly under these conditions.
My schedule is three candidates at half-hour intervals, a fifteen minute break, three candidates, an hour for lunch, three candidates, a fifteen minute break, and three candidates.
The bulk of my interviewing experience has been with phone screens, which are usually thirty minutes just for programming, not including pleasantries to open, or time for the candidate's questions at the end, or time afterward for me to write up my notes. I've also done some on-site interviews, which are at least an hour of programming, with another interviewer, and some time to discuss afterward. For both of these, it's rare to do two a week, never mind a dozen a day.
So my concerns are
- evaluating people in much less time
- cutting people politely if they go over time
- evaluating way more candidates in a single day
The plan so far:
- To help myself stick to the thirty-minute limit, I went around and got my coworkers to suggest a bunch of shorter questions. But of course if people get lost in the weeds they can take as long as I'll allow on any question.
- Based on what people have told me about setting expectations, I'm going to start with this rehearsed introduction: "Hi, I'm Anonymous, from The Firm. I'm going to ask you a quick question about computer science. I would like you to discuss the algorithm in English and then write the solution in any programming language you choose. Feel free to ask questions and think out loud. In fact, I strongly encourage you to talk as you go, because I will almost certainly have to kick you out before you can finish."
- I'm going to kick them out at twenty-five minutes, mid-sentence if I have to, so I have a few minutes to take notes before the next guy walks in. I'm usually told not to think about race, gender, etc., but for this I've been advised to write a few words about physical characteristics and clothes just so I have a chance of remembering who was who at the end of the day.
- I've been told my job is not to produce the usual multi-facted evaluation but just to make a quick judgment as to whether this person is obviously terrible. Anyone who isn't obviously terrible will get another interview.
- I'm going to keep a water bottle and some snacks in the room, and take a nap during my lunch break if I can, just so I don't start failing people just being I'm tired and cranky. But I'm pretty sure I'm going to be tired and cranky by the end of the day anyway.