In my current company we are looking for web developers. I am pretty much in the position that I want to find someone, cause I will leave the company end of this year. My interims team leader is interviewing people and wants me to join the interviews to ask for technical questions. What I am not sure about is, what questions I should ask. The system we use is shopware but apart from asking if they have worked with shopware or one of its underlying frameworks I don't really know what to ask.

Shopware itself is based on a combination of Symfony, Zend, Doctrine and Smarty. So the components are pretty clear. But like I said, I am not sure what to ask apart from if they know these frameworks and if they have worked with them. Are there any other good questions I could ask about a framework in general?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Mister Positive, Retired Codger, DarkCygnus, Dukeling, IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 11 '17 at 18:52

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  • There is no one except of me in the team who knows the technology good enough... – Knerd Oct 11 '17 at 18:55
  • My current position is based on a position change, cause the project I was previously working on was ending. The old project was C#.net and on that topic we have many skilled developers. But on the php side there are three skilled developers and one is new and the other just finished training. For the jobs in my team a colleague was doing the interviews and he left the company. – Knerd Oct 11 '17 at 19:15

Do yourself and your candidates a favor. Just ask questions designed with "bullcrap detector" in mind. That should be your main goal as a technical interviewer.

If a person claims that they know a certain subject or framework, ask a couple questions that any person with that experience would know. Not should know, would know. Ask leading questions starting with "Tell me about a time when..." and "if a client wanted you to make a site that did _____, how would you approach it".

The problem with most technical interviews is that they turn into "gotcha" sessions where the interviewer presents a series of questions that expose their own biases, hoping to catch the candidate (or that if the candidate isn't caught, impresses the interviewer).

The fact is that there's no way a technical interview can tell you how well a person is going to work out for you so you need to use it as a screening tool. Have the person talk about experiences, approaches and then use some basic "BS Detector" questions. You're smart, I'm sure. You can tell whether a person is full of crap or not by the answers to general questions. Leave the hyper-specific questions and the "gotcha" questions, and things which any sane person would just look up to the certification tests.

Screen them, don't test them. And as I said, the more open-ended the better. Get them to talk about the technology though. Just because a question is open-ended doesn't mean you should let them be vague. Ask something open-ended and then, when possible, ask why. There is where people won't be able to BS you as easily. Or "why not use ____ instead?" My point is that the more people talk (and are required to talk about the technology, not just general approaches in vague ways), the more you'll be able to tell about their actual knowledge.

Lastly, let me explain what I mean by "BS Detector" questions. Ask some things that if the person doesn't know, they're a liar. For instance, "What are the standard types in JavaScript?" or "What's the difference between JavaScript and ECMAScript?". Things that only a person who is completely full of crap would get wrong.

  • That sounds really good. I think I will talk this through with a few colleagues and see what they mean and maybe they have good ideas for the open-ended questions. – Knerd Oct 11 '17 at 18:58
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    @Knerd The reason I stress this type of interviewing is because some people just suck at the other kind. I'm one. Gotcha questions piss me off. I'm not a reference book. I also don't like hyper-specific questions about an interviewer's pet methodology or favorite objects. But I've been programming for over 30 years and (if I so say so myself) I'm very good at what I do. I just suck at some types of interviews. But anyone can succeed in the kind I describe and yet you still find out what you need to know. – Chris E Oct 11 '17 at 19:03
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    @ChrisE in my shop we call those "Trivial Pursuit" questions. Mostly the interviewer trying to show everyone in the room how smart he is. – Nolo Problemo Oct 12 '17 at 18:04
  • @NoloProblemo I like that term. I'm stealing it. :) – Chris E Oct 12 '17 at 18:09
  • @ChrisE, consider it my gift to you. :) – Nolo Problemo Oct 13 '17 at 1:45

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