Recently there have been a couple articles I’ve read that give different sides to the argument over whether technical interviews are effective, valuable or worthwhile.
Anything to put them under stress … This is your one chance to see how they handle stress before the brown stuff actually hits the fan. Ideally, a senior DBA is someone who’s had their cage rattled more than once, and they’re comfortable under the gun.
With a different point of view, Phil Factor has an article titled Technical Interviews, and tests, have got to stop! He begins by saying:
… I’d like more successful developers to confess their inability to remember much more than their name under the pressure of a technical interview. The most extreme geeks all have brains that blue-screen with a temporary aphasia under stress.
Phil Factor then goes on to argue for a different (albeit unconventional) interview technique that measures determination.
I have to side with Brent on this one for a few reasons:
Jobs are stressful. I don’t know of any IT job that is so cushy that the employee is not expected to work under pressure from time to time. It’s nice to see a candidate who has that grace under pressure. Confidence is the key I think.
These questions are not like academic exams. Phil Factor’s assumption is that the only point of these technical questions are to see whether the candidate gets the right answer or not. 5 marks for getting the right answer! And perhaps some interviewers do treat questions that way. But better interviewers care as much (or more) about the candidate’s approach to problem solving and behaviour under stress. And I think Brent and Phil can both agree on that point.
I love puzzles. I love challenges like that. So I’ve never had a fear of taking technical quizzes. In his article Brent posed the question of solving the FizzBuzz problem with SQL code. I stopped reading the article right there and solved it before returning to the article. (See problem as posed by Brent here
) If asked about trivial stuff like which port SQL Server typically listens on for secure connections. I have no problem quickly saying “I don’t know that off the top of my head I’d have to look that up”
So I say yes! Good, keep the technical interviews coming!
Michael J. Swart