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programming tasks for interviewee

I am going to interview a Java candidate soon. Usually what I do is I have a list of questions (e.g. what is an abstract class?). I was thinking of doing something different, in particular sit them down in from of a computer and give them some programming tasks and let them go for an hour. Joel on Software suggests some simple tasks, adding up an array and such, so that might be a place to start.

So 2 questions:
1. Do you think this is good approach to an interview?
2. Can you suggest any good programming tasks?
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allelopath
Asked:
allelopath
3 Solutions
 
javaexpertoCommented:
I have read Joel on Software suggests and I think are good. Also you can try some Microsoft common questions:
http://www.sellsbrothers.com/fun/msiview/default.aspx?content=question.htm

Personally I think you should evaluate intelligence and knowledge of your candidate, how to do that?
well, the kind of problems we are talking about (Joels and Microsoft) asses the intelligence(capacity to solve problems) of the candidates; in the other hand you could prepare an exam with questions like:
what is the difference between doGet and doPost methods in a Java Servlet? in order to evaluate the knowledge as well.

With this approach you'll have employees that will know how to do the job but also how to do it better.
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muktajindalCommented:
Another approach that may be followed is to make them explain the last 1-2 projects they have worked on and a better way to accomplish the same. It will give an idea of how they can apply theory into practice.

Further, you may ask basic questions like various methods in Object class.
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basav_comCommented:
Instead of giving value to only general java questions, assess the skills of the java programmer in different way by giving values to different topics. I would suggest the following way.
Divide the interview into the following categories of questions depending on your time.
Topic                                   -- Percentage of questions.
1. General Java questions (to cover candiate outer breadth of java subject)   -- 50%
It can be found from the following urls.
http://www.allapplabs.com/interview_questions/java_interview_questions.htm
http://www.interview-questions-java.com/
2.  Typical java (SCJP) questions to cover the candiate java depth level.      --20%
Kathy Sierra & Khalid mughal chapters questions.
3. Give him a scenario and ask him to write code for that(Eg. It can be a module from your current project  or Java file reading or object synchronisation concept or XML Parsing)   -- 15%
4.  Ask him to explain his academic/previous project and put questions on top of that in cumulative manner as said by muktajindal.(Eg. (i). Why java was choosen for this and why not .net,  (ii) Why threading threading approach is not choosen? and if this project has to  be moved to threading way how much percentage of current code would be affected for that....). Based on candiadate's reply, put the question on top of the lastquestion and prolong the conversation instead of asking a random question.    -- 15%

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ubuntuguyCommented:
I would give them small assignments and come back in an hour or two and have them show me how they went about solving them
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