Re: Evaluating Candidates Using Tests, Logic Questions, and Similar

Subject: Re: Evaluating Candidates Using Tests, Logic Questions, and Similar
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Joyce Fetterman <Joycef -at- gtsoftware -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 10:13:24 -0800

Joyce Fetterman wrote:

Sure, we all get surprised from time to time. That's not the same as deliberately setting up a surprise and then judging me solely on my reaction. Why not be honest with the candidate up front and just say that you'll ask them to take a short writing test. I don't see what you hope to gain by not disclosing your intent.

I think that some people (OK, I mean I, and I wonder if this is what Joyce talking about) do go into interviews with heightened awareness and adrenaline flowing, because an interview is a sort of survival situation where reflexes and instincts can be called into play. Some arch interviewers seem to demand a performance, not a simple work-history-with-samples recital. They want to see you think on your feet and react to stress.

Oh, I really do not need a stress test when I am already wound for an interview. This is why I, or any of us, might faint, wince, wimper, blanche, groan, curse under the breathe, curse a blue streak, fight to keep from bolting for the door, soil oneself, or otherwise de-stressed at the moment of denouement. An interview that causes me that much stress is degrading and most unwelcomed. Even the ones where the interviewer feels bound to ask the ObFQ (obligatory Fafnir Question) "Why are manholes covers round?", hoping to catch a candid glimpse of me in the act of coming online to solve a problem, is not welcomed. I never go to an interview expecting to take so much direction. But I probably should expect it, by now.

Given the difficulty that some interviews pose, I would enjoy a little test of my second nature (a writing test, e.g.). But I am not too surprised when they ask me to stand at the whiteboard and show my work in designing a DTD for some dirty little XML data problem that has no solution. Around Redmond and environs, I've had my share of straightforward writing/rewriting tests (the coarse filter to screen out tech writing poseurs), and I've also interviewed at several startups where life has evolved under the effects of withering competition and ever-increasing technical complexity. The startup tests tend to be those fine-seived whiteboard challenges that select for finer technical writing skills (and send poseurs into paroxysms of self-doubt).

Frankly, for me the unannounced writing test that Sharon describes is like going to the doctor for a checkup and being sent to the lab for routine blood work--a little stick by a consumate professional and yer done. But the unannounced white-board test is the real benchmark for unwelcome stress, like a writing test but the nurse can't seem to find a vein so they get out the <BIG sucking sound> veterinary hypo because they're less likely to miss with a needle the size of a soda straw</>.

Somebody said their crusing vacation starts today? Too much fun, have a great time!

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com


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RE: Evaluating Candidates Using Tests, Logic Questions, and Similar: From: Joyce Fetterman

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