Tips and tactics to interview software engineers

Interviews allow the hiring manager to decide if a candidate is a good fit for the company's role and culture. As always, when it comes to hiring a new software engineer, this interview has to be planned and executed correctly.

Otherwise, companies are at risk of hiring an unfit engineer to fill the position, or worse, letting the ideal candidate goes. In any case, this would harm the work team and can have disastrous results for the company.

The right system for hiring software engineers

Thanks to the growing digital market and its globalization, there are now many software engineers available for hire. But where are the good ones?

The old way of doing these types of interviews is no longer working and companies are not getting the quality employees they require. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a realistic scenario that challenges the candidate's skills, while identifying their weaknesses to improve.

This requires a careful analysis of the errors incurred in preparing and executing the interview for a software engineering position.

Common mistakes during interviews

Offer just one problem

An interviewer cannot face a software developer with a "one and done" approach. It is preferable to have several problems that the interviewee can solve and challenge their abilities at different levels, in order to measure their capacity in a comprehensive way.

Looking for an unique solution

Another mistake is presenting multiple problems, but wait for a unique answer for each of them. Software engineers are creative people who often think outside the box, and may even have more advanced critical thinking than the person who had prepared the problem to solve.

The interviewer must then be open to receive novel solutions, which speak well on behalf of the interviewee and can work in their favor in the selection process.

Not detailing job expectations

It is necessary to make clear the tasks of the job to be done and what the company expects from the candidate, so that they aremore prepared to attend the interview.

At the same time, these requirements should not look so complicated that they intimidate the software developer from applying. In the end, when he or she joins the group, a short period of learning and adaptation to the company specific tasks will be required.

Making candidates nervous

A job interview is stressful on itself, so the interviewer should not increase the nervousness of the candidate by treating them badly during the meeting.

This is a common complaint among software engineers, who even being prepared can make mistakes after a poor reception. It is necessary to clarify from the beginning what is expected of them, so that communication becomes fluid.

Meet remote developers screened by experts and hire 6x faster

Reach those candidates you can't reach. Know their technical skills beforehand. Focus only on the cultural fit with your team.

Do not use a layered interview approach

The best interviews are those in which technical skills and critical thinking can be assessed, but with a margin for the candidate to learn from their own mistakes.

Also, encourage them to create and solve their own problems on the fly, which will give the candidate opportunities to show their unique approaches in the selection process.

Trust Blindly in the CV

An interviewer should not rely solely on the resume to decide on a candidate's advancement to the next hiring phase. Those expressed in the CV do not accurately reflect the true abilities of the candidate, so a personal interview is necessary to give the applicant its real value.

Ask questions that are not related to the interview.

Asking a lot questions not related to the interview is a waste of time for the interviewee and the interviewer. In addition to not contributing to the process, they can mislead the candidate from the important issues, so it is best to focus on the important things.

Expect high quality in entry level position

When interviewing for entry level position, high-level candidates cannot be expected to apply, or to behave like seasoned software engineers.

Every professional must start by acquiring experience, and many companies find it convenient to have fresh staff to train and specialize in the tasks they must fulfill within the organization, according to their needs.

Improving the interview process

The correct way to interview software engineers is detailed below:

Preparation of the interview:

Learn about the characteristics of the position you are hiring for and how the interview will qualify candidates. Plan open-ended tasks that require critical thinking.

Involve the internal technical team in planning the interview:

They know better than anyone the skills that are needed. Also, check the interview tasks with a company software engineer: if they have trouble solving them, the level may need to be lowered.

Execution of the interview:

Avoid the blackboard when solving problems. If the interview can be remote, there are many platforms where problem solving can be conducted and the applicant can work in a medium that they know. Another solution is to make available a workstation similar to the one you will use in your company.

Spare enough time for the candidate to ask questions, have bathroom breaks, and other necessities. Also, make your expectations clear, what the candidate should do and how their solutions will affect the final decision.

Allow the candidate to run and test thir software engineering skills, correcting any mistakes they have made. This makes it possible to observe how thy react to their own mistakes. Also, do not interrupt or point out when they have made a mistake.

Avoid distractions at the time of the interview. The chosen place should be quiet and well lit, and electronic devices should be turned off. Answer the candidates' questions. Don't give them the answers, but guide them to the solution within reason.

Evaluation of the final candidates:

After the interview, it is time to evaluate the candidate: if they are skilled at writing code, if they communicate effectively and if they will be well inserted within the work team. Other things to consider are how receptive they are to criticism and whether they are looking for a permanent or temporary job.

If necessary, you can use members of the existing software engineering team to assess the quality of the responses in the technical part of the interviews.

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