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FortKnox's Journal: Tech Interviewing someone higher up than you? 9

Journal by FortKnox
First of all, I don't want this published to the frontpage...
Having said that, I have a quick question. I'm a Java guy that manages a few younger java guys. I have been asked to tech a .net guy that (according to his resume) has managed over 30 developers. How do I tech a guy like that? Do I just stick with OO/patterns questions? I know how to tech a java guy, but one that has more experience than me is a daunting task...
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Tech Interviewing someone higher up than you?

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  • Go in depth. Talk about a couple of projects, and see what his technical involvement was. Was he an active lead or was he a glorified coffee wench?

    If he hasn't used his tech skills in a while they may have started to dull...

    Otherwise, OOD/Patterns stuff is fine.
  • If he's coming onboard as a Java guy then his .net experience may or may not be of any use (I don't have enough knowledge to know), so asking him Java questions would be appropriate. If he's coming on as a .net guy than asking him about general coding practices would be valuable. Just because he has more experience doesn't really mean that much. He doesn't have more experience at your outfit, and that's the important thing. Just because he's valuable in general doesn't mean he's going to be valuable to
    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Good points.

      Their coding skills are second to whether they can get along with everyone. You can kill morale quickly if someone's acting like a royal PITA all the time.

      Ask them how they handled their failures, both career and personal. You learn a LOT more from failed projects than from successful ones, including what it takes to go from failure to success. Anyone who hasn't been involved in a few failures (personal and career) is either green, a liar, or still living in their mom's basement ... then a

      • by FortKnox (169099) *
        Good stuff! Thanks.

        And answers to the rest: He's getting a .net job, will be a placement, not consultant, so he isn't going to get my job, etc...
        • by tomhudson (43916)

          He's getting a .net job, will be a placement, not consultant, so he isn't going to get my job, etc...

          That's good to know :-)

          Theres a job fair in town Thursday, so I'll be heading down there with a stack of one-page blurbs to see what the market is like - we're coming up on salary/work conditions negotiation time soon, so, before lease renewal time comes up, I want to know if I should renew or not (in other words, how big a raise am I getting ...)

  • The way I've seen this approached is that, if it's a good interview setup you are not the only one interviewing him and there is reasonable coverage with people who can interview on that level.

    So interview him as you would someone on your level, this will atleast give coverage on deeper issues they may not get with 'higher ups'

    Also you could think of an issue that you personally had trouble with and ask them about that. How they answer it should give you some idea of if they are in fact above your level.

  • Was it 20 years of experience, or one year of experience repeated 20 times? Man up. Have some faith in yourself. Grill his ass.

  • How do I tech a guy like that?

    The same as you would for any other candidate applying for the same position. His previous managerial experience might give you a few pointers to his ability to manage, but other than that, it's largely irrelevant. If he's applying for a tech position, then interview him as such. Don't be afraid to ask what he might see as demeaning tech questions. I've interviewed several candidates who have been billed as senior developers/project leads, but who have fallen down on the basics. If he breezes through the ea

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