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Technical interview questions for a junior developer role

What are the sort of things I need to consider?

10:34 am on Jan 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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So, I found out yesterday that I'm going to be interviewing a couple of guys on Monday for a junior developer role. My manager's going to be leading it, and doing all the personal questions, but it's down to me to handle the technical stuff.

Any ideas?

I've not done this before. I remember reading a few other discussions on interviewer and interviewee techniques on here before, but they're generally focused on finding highly-technical people - but we're not going for that, we're looking for a fresh apple, professionally young, who will pick things up quickly if they don't already know it. A proper little junior.

Has anyone here interviewed for this sort of thing before? Any advice? At this rate I'm going to be more nervous than the guys I'm interviewing!
1:58 pm on Jan 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Having had various work experience students wished on me in the past who have varied between embarassingly brilliant and a total waste of space the first thing is to establish an understanding of basic algebra. Without that they will never grasp basic programming. Don't rely on course titles, one of my students had done an "IT" course which simply seemed to involve clicking on icons and opening MSWord.

If a candidate can't grasp the difference between 1+(2*3) and (1+2)*3 then they won't cope with any sort of coding. (The student mentioned above couldn't!)
3:09 pm on Jan 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Understanding their expectations and vision for the job are paramount to the interview. It is the most important task you are going to perform in the interview. If their vision for the job, does not mesh with yours, they will be a short timer and cost you time and money.

Make a list of all the specifics you are going to have the new hire do. Never tell them exactly the specific working tasks until you are sure you are going to offer them a job. You want to talk about fruit and listen for any allergies to vegetables - or talk about PHP and listen if they don't like mysql. You want to find out if they are really capable of doing the job and that your two visions and expectations can mesh.

Qualifications: What kind of developer? PHP, CSS, HTML, Graphic, SEO, SEM, Java, JS. They are almost all specific niches and I would interview each one differently. Study his resume and find out 'what he knows'. Do some quick simple tests to verify his knowledge in each category that he claims to have knowledge about.

It is important to quickly find out what parts of develping he doesn't like. Does he have a distaste for JS, or CSS? Start going down the list of jobs you are going to want the guy to do and figure out if he has any red flags. Throw in some stuff you don't expect him to cover and listen for any rants or raves. For example - ask about cold fusion and see if he rants or raves. You can get a sense for the truthfulness about aspects by seeing how they respond to things that everyone doesn't like. So talk about coldfusion and .net and see what he says ;-)

Never tell the person what specifics you are going to have them do. They will refrain from saying anything negative or derogatory about those items if they have them. You want to find out their pain points and see if you are comfortable working around them.

If they are a brilliant Java programmer and you are going to have them doing 100% mysql or CMS work - then somehow you need to figure out if they can handle that. Otherwise, you will just become a line on their resume while looking for their dream Java job.

Millennials. If you are hiring someone straight out of college, you probably have 90 days to wow them - six months to give them a path to a promotion or exciting new job. If you don't do those 2 things, they will be out the door within 12 months. It is rare to hire someone under 25 today that doesn't look at a job as a 6-12month endeavor. If this seems foreign to you, then go research this young generation and hiring.

Once you find the right person for the job and are going to offer them the job - then - and only then - tell them what the working environment is like. Then listen for any red flags again before making a real offer.
4:51 pm on Jan 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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When I had an interview for a role a little like this, my interviewer asked me what sort of tech/industry sites I read regularly.

I said "slashdot" (which was the only tech site I read regularly at the time) and that seemed to go down very well, in fact I think it could have been one of the things that got me the job.

I'd imagine questioning along these lines could prove useful as it would give you an idea of if these people actually have a real interest in techy and coding stuff.

The advice in this thread already seems excellent though - I'd especially agree that someone without a basic grasp of algebra could never make a good coder.

I'd also add logical structures to that, which is something that many really have trouble with - though that may fall under algebra too, I'm not a maths buff

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