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Monday, November 18, 2013

Overall interview evaluation parameters for a software engineer/architect

When giving technical interviews, either as a software engineer or software architect, you are not only evaluated on technical prowess but also on a bunch of other factors that make a good or not so good hire. Every company and every team has a different set of parameters on which they evaluate candidates, but here is a list that is quite common across most organizations. Note that each of these categories may have a different weight assigned to them to provide emphasis to specific skills that are more important to that team. In addition, the team and company culture have a strong influence on the hiring process and that can be learnt to some degree by reading about the company and their development philosophy.

I have also given a typical question to highlight what I mean by that category. Again, this may vary, but it should give you a good idea on how to present yourself during an interview.

Quality
Question
Energetic
N/A – Based on observation
Ready to learn
N/A – Based on observation
Takes new challenges
What would you do if you happen to finish your assigned task earlier? (Hint: read new tech, fix existing bugs, help teammate, slack off, analyze data, etc.)


Potentially independent
Tell me about a situation that required you to build your knowledge base before solving a complex problem

Results oriented
When do you consider a problem solved? How much time would you spend tweaking a solution to gain more performance? When is the performance good enough and you move to the next problem?

Growth potential
Describe a time when you had to complete a project in which you were provided with very little information or guidance

Adaptability
Describe a time when you presented a proposal or provided a service that was given an unfavorable response by stakeholders
Sincerity
Tell me about a time when you did not meet a planned milestone
Mentoring
Tell me about a time when you mentored others in your area of technical expertise
Provide an example of a time when you had to motivate others to complete a challenging deliverable.


Team Fit
Describe your most recent experience working with a virtual team.
What were the challenges you faced and how did you work through them?
Describe a situation when you led a project with a geographically or functionally diverse team
Describe how you have collaborated with others outside of your immediate team to resolve a critical issue
Tell me about a time when you experienced a major organizational change (for example, a reorganization, a new supervisor or a new procedure) that created stress. 

Company Fit
Why would you join our team and not another competitor?
What are 3 words that describe you?
What experience do you have that qualifies you for the job?
What do you consider your strengths?
What are your short term and long term goals



Technical
Given an array of numbers, write a function to remove duplicates and sort the output
In an org, given two employees, find their common manager
SQL: Given an employee table with salaries, find the employees that make more than their manager

Design: Consider an API management system. There is an API portal (say NB) that has managed services that point to a variety of backend systems (let’s call them SB). The Developer apps call the NB system which checks for quotas, throttling, authentication, access, etc and if everything is good, massages the request to call the appropriate SB system. The SB response is then returned to the client. Some requests may be stateless (e.g. GetJobs()) and some may be more stateful (e.g. async call to translate speech to text). Design me a transactionID/conversationIDsystem that allows me to keep track of different requests for purposes of monitoring, measuring latency, failures, etc.

Data driven
Describe a long-term project or assignment of which you took ownership. How did you make sure each milestone was achieved in a timely manner?
You wanted to make a change on the website, but your product manager was not in favor. How would you handle this?
Tell me about a situation when you had multiple alternatives from which to choose. What steps did you take to determine the most appropriate alternative?


This should give you a good idea on what many interviewers gauge a candidate. There are of course many more factors and qualities that guide the hiring process. 

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