Effective Phone Interviews

Posted By on May 25, 2009

Alex and I spent some portion of our time phone interviewing potential interns for the summer. Unfortunately, the resume is often an inaccurate indicator of one’s programming ability. In a previous existence, we could throw money at that problem – we’d review a resume and then FLY a candidate in to interview. The candidate would go through nine interviews with various engineers, designers and marketers on-site. At Baydin, we subscribe to Joel Spolsky’s philosophy on hiring creative, capable developers because they can make the difference between success and failure. However, we can’t afford to fly any candidates out for an on-site interview. Here’s how we find the gems.

While a bad resume can knock a candidate out from even getting an interview, a good resume does not guarantee that said candidate is a master programmer. Since we are on a limited budget, Alex came up with a nifty way to see if a potential intern has the right stuff.

On the phone we delve into the details of the candidate’s experience. This is important because it gives us background information. It can tell us if the candidate has experience working with a team, leading a team and how he or she contributes in a project.  It also tells us whether or not the candidate can communicate complex technical information.

We then ask some basic programming questions to see how he or she approaches the problem. Thus far, we’ve had a great experience using EtherPad. The candidate and we can write on a “virtual whiteboard” simultaneously. This allows us to see in real-time how a candidate frames the problem and solves it. We’re looking to see if he or she understands fundamental concepts. In short, it was an effective way to give a technical interview without flying a candidate to our site.

We’ve only posted openings for a week and we’re psyched at the turnout we’ve received thus far. There are some great candidates applying. If you are interested in interning on the ground floor of an exciting startup, then drop us a line.

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