Looking for Great Interview Questions

I have droned on previously about my thoughts around resumes and interviewing, and received some great thoughts and opinions from peers. I would like to focus the lens a little and gather thoughts about good questions to ask in a short phone screen for potential contract help on a project.

I always struggle with what questions make great questions in this context. It’s really too easy to focus on specific tools and frameworks – I don’t think that’s good. We try to keep these screens to a half hour, and the conversation can quickly de-generate into discussions around settings, API methods, and various extemporaneous details that make my mind wander or even want to explode – and before you know it time is up. I get very little qualitative feedback about someone hearing them go on about this kind of detail.

I always try to probe at someone’s soft skills instead. Most reasonably smart technical people can pick up on the tools that you use, but you are usually stuck with their soft skills for the long haul.

Here are some of my questions:

  • If you are not familiar with a tool or framework that you are asked to use, how would you learn about it?
  • Describe a situation where you had to interact with end users to capture requirements or provide production support.
  • Describe a situation in which you have had to troubleshoot performance problems in an application – how did you investigate the issue, and how did you resolve it?
  • How have you been involved in testing components that you have worked on?

Some might argue that by disclosing these questions and my intentions that I’m setting myself up to be deceived, but I don’t buy it. I think being transparent about this has the high liklihood that I will get even better suggestion out of my peers. My experience is also that people don’t do an oustanding job fibbing their way through interviews, so I don’t think a quick study of my poor blog is going to put anyone very far ahead of where they would have been – on the contrary it might just save both of us some time.

What are your questions? How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

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