Example Progamming/Tech Interview Questions

These are my favorite interview questions. They don't include coding problems, at all. You can learn that stuff better from interviewcake.com than from me anyway. :slightly_smiling_face:

A difficult problem

Tell me about a particularly difficult problem you solved recently – technical or not. Give me the gory details.

^ I ask a lot of probing questions based on the answer.

Biggest win/loss

What accomplishment in your career or life are you most proud of? Tell me about a professional mistake you made recently, one with consequences, and how you resolved it.

^ I'm most interested in the topics chosen for both of these. I am way more impressed with answers that involve social consequences. It indicates a lack of empathy to me when the answer is 100% technical.

But some interviewers are more interested in the technical answers. You have to ask yourself both what are they looking for, and what kind of place you want to work?

When I'm the interviewee, I give the more human-centered answers to these questions, which IME weeds out asshole employers as well as the questions weed out asshole employees when I'm the one asking.

Leading non-conformists

The following is a question I only ask for leadership roles:

How do you handle leading a team member who does not want to play by the rules?

^ I'm looking for folks who are all-carrot, no-stick. Again, I've found answering this myself with all-carrot has weeded out awful potential employers.

Code walk-through

Back to general technical interview questions:

Do you have any code you've written which you could share with me, and walk me through the design & reasoning?

^ This is not a deal-breaker if not. The past N years my work has been closed-source, protected by NDAs, and I've had to carve out time to write stuff to share for interviews. It's exhausting and not everyone has the time.


From my friend and former colleague @bricelenza:

The biggest thing I've learned interviewing at AWS for 4 years is the effectiveness of the STAR method. And really focusing on the individual role and contributions of the interviewee. A lot of candidates will fall back to "we" when describing what was done, it becomes unclear what the candidate actually brings to the situation.

Why diversity?

From my friend and former boss @dyoder:

why is diversity important to you?

Nerd-out on strengths

and also via @dyoder:

i will also sometimes drill down more on subjects where a candidate claims to be strong. the theory is that if you can't talk to things where you're most confident you probably are overstating your abilities. but perhaps more importantly it gives candidates a chance to get some positive momentum. i want to see what their ceiling is, not the floor.


From my friend and former colleague @ph0rque

As far as technical interview questions, I like to ask general questions that roughly approximate what we as a company are trying to solve. E.g: "how do you troubleshoot memory issues or performance issues?" (if the company is hiring an engineer that would help us fix those issues).


also via @ph0rque

For general culture / "good human" questions, I like the WHO book method, but I do it much more informally: Basically, starting at their latest job and working backwards, I ask a few probing questions about not just what they did, but how it was working with their team, their boss, any direct reports, etc. The purpose is to get a picture if they were actually as good as they claimed they were, and if they are a**holes or pleasant people to work with.