How we do the hiring process in my team


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This post is going to be slightly different from the others you can find here on my blog.
Part of my new job is to hire people and at the moment we are in the process of growing the  development team.
I had already took part to some interviews from the other side of the table, but preparing and leading an interview is something different, as I found out.
In fact, after a couple of interviews where I just sketched out some objectives and questions, I found myself in a position where I was not very capable of comparing the two candidates if not by my intuition and memories from the interview.
That’s why I decided to adopt a sort of lean methodology to use for (and adapt after) each interview.
Obviously there’s nothing groundbreaking in what follows, just some well-known good practice and ideas, but having them written down really helps on focusing and applying them, or at least that’s my experience and opinion.

So why a post such as this? Well, because I’ve seen others around lately and they helped me a lot, so why not give something back to the community and hope to help someone else?


Establish your goals and your needs, be realistic and keep an eye on your budget

It may look trivial, but in fact this is one of the toughest things to do during the whole process. Obviously everyone would like to hire the best dev in the town, but it’s not always possible nor desirable. Let’s see why.
First of all, establish your needs trying to be as honest as possible: if you are in the middle of a project, or about to start a new project and are in need of workforce, chances are you won’t have much time to train the new comer, so you probably want to look for a developer who has a certain degree of experience in the technologies related to your project.
The degree of experience that you have to aim for may vary based on your budget, the competences inside your team and the risk/complexity associated to the project,
If instead you are not on a hurry or if you have enough people on the team to take some time to train new comers and the project is not that risky/complex, then you can probably afford to hire a junior developer or someone who is not much experienced in the same technologies used in your team, that will cost you lees money and you will have the incredible chance to train him!
Write down your tech needs based on core technologies that are a must, but also include some “nice to have”: if you know that your team is missing some skill that might come in handy, then a nice to have gain importance.
Finally it is also very important to layout some personality traits: these will need to be tailored on those that already belong to your team.
For example, something close to my experience, if your team works on different projects and technologies, it is important to look for someone who is rather open-minded and has not been long single tech focused, because it’s less likely that he/she will happily accept to have to learn something new in a short amount of time.

Again the word here is trade-off: goals and needs must meet budget and reality. Also remember: talented developers are usually hard to keep in your company if you do not motivate them enough with interesting projects and problems to solve, cool technologies, responsibilities and money.
If you know you won’t be able to provide some of these points, then you might think twice before hiring someone who could potentially quit exactly the moment when you most need workforce!


This is the moment when you have to apply all the criteria identified in the first step, and use the many tools available to search for candidates: e.g. Monster and LinkedIn where you can perform really fine-grained searches.
But don’t forget about one of the most important way of finding great people: by word of mouth!
While reading CV I am often unhappy because the job descriptions are not very useful to me: yes there is a list of keywords, yes the scope of the project is there, but quite rarely it is clearly explained what was the role in the team, the responsibilities and the technologies really used and mastered.
And quite often I found out that if they have been vague it’s because they don’t know much about it. Again this is just my small experience, so take it with a grain of salt.
So when you have to screen lots of CV and profiles, I suggest skipping those who have vague job description: at the end you will have less CV, but better ones and this is really important because now we go to step 3, interviews!

The interview

This is where the fun begins! You found some great people (at least based CV or someone else’s opinion), they are available and interested by your job opening, now it’s up to you to lead the interview in a way that is useful and the less stressful possible (for everyone).
I personally don’t like phone interviews because usually the line is bad, it’s less personal and you don’t get to see the body language of the person, which is something really important to me.
That’s why, if possible, I always choose to set up face to face interviews.
For the moment I have very few rules for this phase, one of these is  that the interview should not be longer than 1 hour, after that everyone starts to lose attention and to be tired. Another good practice is to involve someone else from the team too; at the end of the day this new person will have to integrate with the team and work with other people, and having a second opinion is always a good thing🙂
I like to start by introducing the company, the team, the projects we are working on, the methodologies and technologies we use in the development process, and again I describe the job opening, our needs and goals, just to be sure the other person gets them really clear.
Then I ask the candidate to introduce himself/herself, going through the CV and the past experiences (and here is where you can clarify all those vague job descriptions) .
All of this should take a reasonable amount of time, especially if the candidate is a senior dev.
Finally we get to the technical part of the interview: no live coding, no whiteboard coding, these are the other two rules of my interview. I don’t think that asking someone to write some code in 5 minutes in front of people who judge them can really show skills and qualities.
Therefore I wrote down a set of questions that are more colloquial and open-ended than just “Answer a b or c?”.  There are not many questions and I usually don’t ask all of them but instead I just pick the ones that I think could be more appropriate to the job and to the candidate.
Some of those questions have been written by us, many others are taken from the web and can be easily found by googling “interview questions for $technology_X”. I will list them at the end of the post just because they might help people interested to bootstrap their own list.
There are also a  couple of exercises that do not require to write code, just reasoning. Usually I don’t care if the candidate cannot find the right solution on the first try, as long as they get there after a brief discussion and reasoning together.

A project to be done in autonomy

Yep it’s not yet finished! Yes I said that I don’t like live coding, but that doesn’t mean that I do not care about coding skills, au contraire!
At this point, hopefully, there is a small set of candidates to choose from and a good way to select the right candidate is by assigning a project that should be done in autonomy and that should help the team assess several things, such as coding skills, style and quality of code, usage of project related technologies, approach to code testing and ultimately if the candidate can deliver!
If you have budget, you may think about paying the candidate to do some actual work that you need done, otherwise you can opt for very small project that should take no more than a few hours to complete, but yet they should provide good value and insight.


It’s useful to ask the candidate, at the end of each interview, what is his/her opinion, if some question is unclear or confusing.
At the end it’s important to constantly improve your hiring process if you want to increase the likelihood to find the right people.
Finally, bear in mind that this post is just the fruit of my experience and that is very subject to change in the future. Furthermore it applies well to small teams but I have no idea if this would apply well to big teams or other cases.
However any feedback is always appreciated!

Have fun interviewing!


p.s. Here is the list of technical questions, mostly oriented to Asp.Net, C# and the web (HTML5, JavaScript)

Interview Questions

General introductionary questions

  • What is your vision of the position? Why are you interested by this position?

  • What books did you read about software development and methodologies?

  • What did you learn yesterday/this week?

  • What excites or interests you about coding?

  • What are your favorite parts about the developer tools you use?

  • Talk about your preferred development environment. (OS, Editor, Browsers, Tools etc.)

  • If you could master one technology this year, what would it be?

  • What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever coded, what are you most proud of? Can you share with us a code sample that you’re proud of, or that you think represents an important part of your coding philosophy?

  • Can you tell us about a hard problem you’ve had to solve, and how you went about solving it?

  • What’s a hashtable?

HTML5/CSS3 specific questions

  • Consider HTML5 as an open web platform. What are the building blocks of HTML5?

  • What are data- attributes good for?

  • Describe the difference between cookies, sessionStorage and localStorage.

  • What is a CSS pre-processor? Name at least one

Javascript specific questions

  • What is an object in JavaScript?

  • Explain how “this” works in JavaScript  (see exercises #1, #2)

  • Explain AJAX in as much detail as possible

  • What is a closure, and how/why would you use one?

  • What is JSON?

  • Explain how prototypal inheritance works

  • How do you go about testing your JavaScript?

  • How do you organize your code? (module pattern, classical inheritance?) Explain the “JavaScript module pattern” and when you’d use it. Ask about private/public properties of an object

  • Explain the concept behind JavaScript promises

  • Can you do multithread operations in JavaScript?

C# / Asp.Net specific questions

  • Write a program that prints the numbers from 1 to 100. But for multiples of three print “Fizz” instead of the number and for the multiples of five print “Buzz”. For numbers which are multiples of both three and five print “FizzBuzz”.

  • Can you describe the C# memory model? What’s the difference between value types and reference types?

  • What are the available parameters passing strategies in .Net?

    • What is the ref keyword and what does it mean?

    • What is the difference between a reference object passed as a parameter by value and a reference object passed as a parameter by reference?

    • What is the out keyword and what is its peculiarity?

    • Is it possible to define optional parameters in a method signature? If yes, how and what restrictions apply?

  • Can you describe what the keyword const is used for?

  • Can you describe what the keyword readonly is used for? And what’s the main difference between const and readonly?

  • Linq: What’s the “problem” with the following block of code and how would you solve it?
    var customers = from c in context.Customers
                                  select c;
    var waCustomers = customers.Where (c => c.Region == “WA”);
    var waCustomerIDs = waCustomers.Select (c = c.ID);
    var waCustomerNames = waCustomers.Select (c = c.Name);

  • (Ask this question only if the above one has been correctly answered) When would you write a method that returns an IEnumerable<T> and when a method that returns a IQueryable<Customer> (Answer: if you want to allow for composition)

  • What are the main differences between developing a desktop application and a web application? What problem occur on the web that we don’t on the desktop?

  • Can you describe your workflow when you create a web page? / What is your approach to testing when building a web application?

  • Do you know about Asp.Net MVC? Do you know on what conceptual pillars it has been built on?

  • Asp.Net MVC specific questions:

    • What are the benefits of using MVC over Web Forms?

    • What is Razor and what are the benefits of using it?

    • What is a Filter in MVC?

    • What is the role of a controller in an MVC application?

    • Name a few different return types of a controller action method?

    • What is the significance of ASP.NET routing and what are its benefits?

    • What are the 3 segments of the default route, that is present in an ASP.NET MVC application? Example

SQL specific questions

  • What is the difference between an inner join and an outer join? (see exercise #1)

  • What’s the difference between a table scan and an index seek?




var Stormtrooper = function( number, weakMinded ) {
    this.number = number;
    this.weakMinded = weakMinded;

Stormtrooper.prototype.checkForDroids = function() {
    return this.weakMinded;

var tk421 = new Stormtrooper( "tk421", true );
tk421.checkForDroids(); // return value?

var checkForDroids = tk421.checkForDroids;
checkForDroids(); // return value?


var deathStarTarget = {
    planet: "Alderaan",
    onClickSuperLaser: function() {
        this.destroy( this.planet );
    destroy: function() {
        // DESTROY IT

$( "#button" ).on( "click", deathStarTarget.onClickSuperLaser );



We have two tables:

A    B

–    –

1    3

2    4

3    5

4    6

Show outputs for:

  1. select * from a INNER JOIN b on a.a = b.b;

  2. select * from a LEFT OUTER JOIN b on a.a = b.b;

  3. select * from a FULL OUTER JOIN b on a.a = b.b;

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