My Best Interview Question

Published .

Question: What are the best programming interview questions you’ve ever asked or been asked?

The best interview question I ask is “Would you like to sit and code with me for a while?”

When I’m interviewing, I don’t give a shit whether somebody can solve puzzles. I am hiring them to make things for our users, not fill out Mensa quizzes.

If I sit down and code with them for a few hours, I learn many things, including:

  • whether they have done much coding recently,
  • how familiar they are with the language,
  • how they think about coding,
  • how well they work with others,
  • whether they ask the right questions about a task,
  • how they handle setbacks,
  • if they are inclined to bullshit,
  • how good they are at automated testing, and
  • whether they check their work.

Unlike interview questions, which people can prepare for, this is pretty much impossible to fake. If they do well in the pair programming interview, odds are very good they’ll do well at the job.

Originally published on Quora, where it is the most popular answer with over 3,000 votes and over 300,000 views.