I need to hire a senior software developer. I've switched to a new recruiter and he's asked for about 3 questions to ask each candidate on the phone that he'll send the answers to when I see the CV to help me screen out the obvious bad ones. I quite like the idea of not having to phone screen people who just cannot code but I'm struggling to be honest.

The notion of quickfire hire/no hire questions intrigues and worries me in equal measure. I reckon it's possible to come up with some useful ones but most of the questions I ask in an interview are open ended, language agnostic and based on cultural fit.

Now, the recruiter has told me that the candidate wont be able to google the answers since they'll be asked immediately before he sends the CV but I clearly don't want to ask questions that are 'googleable',..I don't care if they routinely google those sorts of questions. In fact, I'd rather they did!

So, if you were in my position what questions would you ask?

For what it's worth, the primary platform is .Net, C#, Sql Server et al along with the normal slew of legacy technologies.

Edit Just to be super clear... knowing whether the candidate knows what the volatile keyword does in C# or how they would create a regex that validates UK postcodes would be pointless information. That's classic google fodder. I want something that demonstrates a deeper understanding than that.

I considered simple 'what is polymorhism' type questions or 'explain the difference between an 'HTTP PUT vs POST' but these seem pretty straight forward for a senior. I'm looking for something to help support the decision to interview a senior.

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    Better hope they're not reading Programmers SE... – idoby Aug 25 '13 at 17:57
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    no explanation for the down-vote? nice. – EightyOne Unite Aug 25 '13 at 18:42
  • Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you've tried and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and most of all it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer. Also see How to Ask – gnat Aug 25 '13 at 18:52
  • Thanks gnat. I think I say pretty clearly in the question what I'm looking for and that this is a new situation I'm asking about so I've not tried anything or have any indication of what didn't meet my needs. I'll add some detail and try to be more specific. – EightyOne Unite Aug 25 '13 at 18:58
  • no answer to this can be anything other than an opinion (opinion questions get closed 'round here); my opinion is to ask something specific about your project/domain that requires them to think on their feet - and that's something we can't tell you – Steven A. Lowe Aug 25 '13 at 20:20

To be honest, I've yet to meet a recruiter that I'd trust to be qualified to interpret a candidate's response to anything other than factual data (e.g., last place of employment, education).

I would not ask anyone else to ask FizzBuzz. It's a great question, but the value comes in seeing the answers first hand.

Interviewing is a 2 way street. While you're trying to decide if a candidate is a good fit for your company, the candidate is trying to decide if the company is a good fit for them. For a position to be offered and accepted, both have to agree that it's going to work.

Possible questions:

  • Tutoring/mentoring junior developers is a job requirement. Will you do that?
  • Fixing bugs takes priority over new code, especially on a Friday afternoon right before quitting time. Do you agree?
  • We take the team approach to development - code is owned by the team, and all code is reviewed. Are you OK with that?

All the recruiter need do is record 'yes' or 'no'. The candidate gets some signals about what kind of shop you're running, and may elect to decline an interview.

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  • I'm with you Dan but don't forget that it wont be the recruiter screening the questions, it will be me. He's just going to send the answers along with the CV. I've interviewed too many people who just cant code so it's something that might prove useful. – EightyOne Unite Aug 25 '13 at 20:58

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