I recently did an in-office interview with a candidate for a programming position. The preliminary phone screen went OK. That person allegedly had several years of experience, so we asked them to come in the office for an extended interview, including a coding test.
The test is very simple and is only there to make sure that the candidate can build a very basic program. I'd expect any programmer to pass in less than 30 minutes.
The candidate bombed it. I left them alone for about 30 minutes in front of the computer, just checking from time to time if they needed anything, and they ended up not producing a single line of code, because they could not even set up a minimal application. It seems that they were having trouble with the IDE.
At that point, my mind was already made-up that there was no way I would hire that person, but I started feeling bad about ending things abruptly.
I let them sit in our daily meeting, so they could meet the team and get an idea of the work we did, and then I quickly set up a console application, so they could try the test again while only focusing on the code.
The second attempt yielded the same result. They gave up after 20 minutes.
At that point, the candidate apologized and said they were ready to leave. After they left, I checked their screen and there was only one line. I think they could not even figure out how to run the program.
I wish I had known how to send them home early without making them feel too bad, and even when they finally gave up, I was a bit speechless and I feel like I could have handled it more gracefully than "Thanks for coming. Have a good day".
Is there a diplomatic way to let a candidate know that they bombed the interview?
Edit: To clarify, We do not impose an IDE, nor a language. They are free to pick one of several popular editors installed on that test machine.
It seems that they were having trouble with the IDE<-- for what it's worth, I've actually been in this situation before, where someone basically said, "here use this IDE that you've never used before and write some code on the spot." It didn't end well (for me). Almost everyone is nervous in an interview and figuring out an IDE, many of which are complicated, only adds to the stress.