Quizzing Interviews

So, after 14 years of being hired, watching peers get hired, being in interviews for peers, interviewing and hiring people myself, I’ve more and more come to realize that the interview just really doesn’t work out. I consider myself a relatively experienced judge of character (work character at least), but I’ve been burned more than once on someone that interviews absolutely fantastically, but just doesn’t end up working out – the biggest issue it seems being work ethic – which is incredibly difficult to judge in an interview.

I also think that the interview isn’t all that fair to technical candidates – because most of the problems that systems and software people solve are best solved when you have time to sit back, look at the parts, search around a bit, and come up with a whole (or find the hole). And trying to ask technical questions that have to be answered on the spot doesn’t really judge much except the ability to be self-reflective enough and not be afraid of the answers “I don’t know” or “I’d have to think about that a bit” – which is all well and good.

I do, though, work for the State, so there’s not much chance that I could contract someone for a few days of work and see how they work out. But I do think I could give a quiz – or more – a questionnaire (as long as I give it to everyone).

However, I’m somewhat at a loss to start with that. The only ideas I have are:

  • Ask them what feed reader they use. And what their favorite blogs are (if you aren’t using a feed reader, then you likely don’t have the other skills we need either)
  • Give them a list of the actual tasks we have open and ask them how they would prioritize them
  • Give a problem or two that we have right now and ask how’d they work through it (this is much more fair with some time with google than trying to answer it in an interview)

Other suggestions? If you are on the giving or receiving end of one of these – is it a good idea? What would you ask? Or want asked of you?