TechRepublic member Porsha, an IT project coordinator, had a problem. She was scheduled to interview a developer for a position that required skills about which she knew little.

What would you do if you were in Porsha’s shoes and didn’t have much time to prepare for the interview? Here’s your chance to help Porsha and other IT managers who are facing the same problem.

Porsha posted her question in our Technical Q&A section. This article includes two of the responses Porsha received on how to handle the interview. You are invited to join the discussion by providing your advice. The best response wins a TechRepublic coffee mug.

The problem
Porsha’s knowledge of LotusNotes and LotusScript was insufficient for an upcoming interview with a developer.

“I have looked on a few Q&A forums, however, with not knowing the subject, I don’t know if the questions I’ve found [to ask in the interview] are…really hard or very simple. Anyone have any suggestions on the sort of things I should be asking?”

Some suggested approaches
TechRepublic member pipatiky suggested that Porsha not ask the interviewee about LotusNotes or LotusScript at all.

“I have interviewed thousands of professionals, and I have found out that all these people have a good feel for common sense. They will quickly learn that you are deficient in LotusScript unless you bone up on it. Never ask a question that you do not already know the answer to,” said pipatiky, a retired CIA employee.

Pipatiky also suggested that Porsha stay away from asking general questions.

“Ask questions that take narrative answers,” he suggested.

Wayne Mack, another TechRepublic member who responded, agreed, adding that questions requiring narrative answers can help reveal whether the developer is a good problem solver.

“One question I use in all of my technical interviews is: ‘Describe the most interesting problem you have had recently and how you resolved it,’” he said. “Most techies can come up with at least one old war story in answer to this question, and you can get an insight into how they handle problems without having to understand the technical details of the solution.”

Now it’s your turn
What other advice would you give Porsha? Do you agree with the advice already posted by other TechRepublic members? Let us know what you think by joining the discussion.

Monday morning interviews

What’s the strangest response you have received in response to a question you asked a job candidate? Send us an e-mail and let us know.