How to Interview a Software Developer

Yesterday, I stumbled across a four year old blog post that made me laugh, A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages.  When I mentioned this online, my friend and fellow software conspirator, Scott Rehorn, made a brilliant suggestion about how to interview a software developer:

We should put this in our pocket as an interview question for candidates – “Do you think this is funny? Please explain why…”

What a great idea!

When I interview a candidate for a software position, I typically mix in a few pointed, technical questions about relevant programming languages, tools, and practices.  I like to throw in several difficult questions as much to gauge the depth of knowledge as to see how the candidate reacts.

But now, I’m thinking Scott’s question is really the perfect opener for the technical part of the interview.  It’s a fun, ice-breaker sort of question. But it can also offer real insights into the breadth of programming language knowledge, as well as personality and sense of humor.  I mean, if Programmable Hyperlinked Pasta (PHP) doesn’t make you chuckle, you’ve never used Personal Home Page Tools, you’ve never built a really big web app, or you’re a Vulcan.

Where Smalltalk Objects End

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