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The Tech-Talk Balance:
What Technical Interviewers Expect
from Technical Candidates
Denae Ford, Titus Barik, Leslie Rand-Pickett, Christopher Parnin@DenaeFord
North Carolina State University
2
Emphasizes data structures & algorithms
3
…but others emphasize something else
Write Code on
Paper
Know Your Resume
Talk Out Loud
Don’t Memorize
Solutions
4
Interpersonal
Skills
Technical Skills
5
What matters to interviewers?
https://cynematography.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/the-internship2.jpg
Research Questions
Are there company differences in interview
criteria?
How do interviewers interpret criteria for
software engineer job candidates?
6
RQ1
RQ2
Department Wide Mock Interviews
7
Emailed
Department Sponsors
https://www.csc.ncsu.edu/corporate_relations/epartners-faqs.php
Emailed
Computer Science Students
Participants
8
70 Candidate Evaluations 27 Interviewers
Undergraduate + Graduate
Internships + Full Time Large + Small Companies
Tech+ HR
Methodology
9
Candidates
70 Evaluations
+
Tech+HR
Interviewers
Alias Sector Size Evaluations Interviewers
C1WEB Internet Search Large 10 4
C2LAW Legal + Risk Large 8 2
C3DAT Data Storage Large 8 2
C4ENG Consulting Large 6 4
C5STS Analytics Small 4 1
C6MKT Marketing Small 15 5
C7OPS Operations Small 12 6
C8INS Insurance Small 4 2
C9FIN Financial Small 3 1
Total 70 27
Mock Interview Companies
Methodology
11
Candidates
70 Evaluations
+
Tech+HR
Interviewers
Criteria
Problem Solving
Nonverbal
Oral/ Verbal Clarity
Clear Concrete Examples
Enthusiasm
Confidence
12
Methodology
14
Grounded Theory
Fisher’s Exact + Steel Dwass
Findings
Criteria p1 Post-hoc pairs (p)2
Problem Solving 0.001* C1WEB /C3DAT (0.0159)
C1WEB /C7OPS (0.0433)
Nonverbal 0.007* C1WEB /C6MKT (0.0057)
C1WEB /C2LAW (0.0057)
Oral/Verbal Clarity 0.1142 -
Clear, Concrete Examples 0.0392* -
Enthusiasm 0.0079* C1WEB /C6MKT (0.0250)
Confidence 0.0048* C1WEB /C2LAW (0.0356)
C1WEB /C3DAT (0.0356)
C1WEB /C7OPS (0.0262)
RQ1: Are there company differences
in interview criteria?
Fisher’s Exact Test -> Post Hoc Steel Dwass Analysis
1
Fisher's exact test across companies. α =0.05
2
Post-hoc Steel-Dwass analysis.
Correspondence Analysis
17
Problem Solving
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
c1
C1
C2
C3
C4
C5
C6
C7
C8
C9
2
3
4
-3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
c2
Nonverbal
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
c1
C1
C2
C3C4
C5
C6
C7
C8
C9
1
2
3
4
-3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
c2
Oral/ Verbal Clarity
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
c1
C1
C2C3C4 C5
C6
C7
C8 C9
2
34
-3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
c2
Clear, Concrete
Examples
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
c1
C1
C2
C3C4
C5
C6
C7
C8
C9
1
2
3
4
-3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
c2
Enthusiasm
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
c1
C1
C2C3C4C5
C6
C7C8C9
2
3
4
-3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
c2
Confidence
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
c1
C1
C2
C3C4
C5 C6C7
C8
C9
1
2
3
4
-3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
c2
RQ2: How do interviewers interpret criteria for
software engineer job candidates?
Problem Solving -> Algorithms: When hiring candidates for a job, the top concern is
whether candidates have sufficient technical skills through explaining CS Fundamentals.
Nonverbal -> Interest: Interviewers noticed when there was poor communication
during the interview through eye contact and poise.
Oral/Verbal Clarity -> Fluent Speech: When making a first impression, the first words a
candidate speaks and their tone are often the most important.
Clear, Concrete Examples -> Connected Experiences: Being able to connect previous
experiences to coding problems demonstrated the ability to adapt to new environments.
Enthusiasm -> Visible Excitement: How a candidate displayed enthusiasm is one
measure of interest and engagement in the interview.
18
[Original Criteria] [Interviewer Interpretation]
Takeaways
Interviewers care about technical soundness and the
ability for candidates to communicate that skill.
Most companies have consistent expectations for
candidates across industry and size.
One style of interview preparation may not work for all
companies; some may require specific skills.
19
On the Horizon
Record Interviews with biometrics
Identify when interviewers followed up with candidates
Ask if interviewer would hire candidate
Compare across ranked software engineering universities
20
https://cynematography.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/the-internship2.jpg
@DenaeFord
Summary
We have support for how technical interviews go in SE!
Interviewers want technical soundness+communication
Most companies have consistent expectations
Preparation for company-specific interview makes a difference
22
Paper: http://bit.ly/TechTalkBalance
Blog: http://bit.ly/TechTalkBlog
++
Correspondence Analysis
24

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The Tech-Talk Balance: What Technical Interviewers Expect from Technical Candidates

  • 1. The Tech-Talk Balance: What Technical Interviewers Expect from Technical Candidates Denae Ford, Titus Barik, Leslie Rand-Pickett, Christopher Parnin@DenaeFord North Carolina State University
  • 3. 3 …but others emphasize something else Write Code on Paper Know Your Resume Talk Out Loud Don’t Memorize Solutions
  • 5. 5 What matters to interviewers? https://cynematography.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/the-internship2.jpg
  • 6. Research Questions Are there company differences in interview criteria? How do interviewers interpret criteria for software engineer job candidates? 6 RQ1 RQ2
  • 7. Department Wide Mock Interviews 7 Emailed Department Sponsors https://www.csc.ncsu.edu/corporate_relations/epartners-faqs.php Emailed Computer Science Students
  • 8. Participants 8 70 Candidate Evaluations 27 Interviewers Undergraduate + Graduate Internships + Full Time Large + Small Companies Tech+ HR
  • 10. Alias Sector Size Evaluations Interviewers C1WEB Internet Search Large 10 4 C2LAW Legal + Risk Large 8 2 C3DAT Data Storage Large 8 2 C4ENG Consulting Large 6 4 C5STS Analytics Small 4 1 C6MKT Marketing Small 15 5 C7OPS Operations Small 12 6 C8INS Insurance Small 4 2 C9FIN Financial Small 3 1 Total 70 27 Mock Interview Companies
  • 12. Criteria Problem Solving Nonverbal Oral/ Verbal Clarity Clear Concrete Examples Enthusiasm Confidence 12
  • 13.
  • 16. Criteria p1 Post-hoc pairs (p)2 Problem Solving 0.001* C1WEB /C3DAT (0.0159) C1WEB /C7OPS (0.0433) Nonverbal 0.007* C1WEB /C6MKT (0.0057) C1WEB /C2LAW (0.0057) Oral/Verbal Clarity 0.1142 - Clear, Concrete Examples 0.0392* - Enthusiasm 0.0079* C1WEB /C6MKT (0.0250) Confidence 0.0048* C1WEB /C2LAW (0.0356) C1WEB /C3DAT (0.0356) C1WEB /C7OPS (0.0262) RQ1: Are there company differences in interview criteria? Fisher’s Exact Test -> Post Hoc Steel Dwass Analysis 1 Fisher's exact test across companies. α =0.05 2 Post-hoc Steel-Dwass analysis.
  • 17. Correspondence Analysis 17 Problem Solving -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c1 C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 2 3 4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c2 Nonverbal -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c1 C1 C2 C3C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 1 2 3 4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c2 Oral/ Verbal Clarity -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c1 C1 C2C3C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 2 34 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c2 Clear, Concrete Examples -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c1 C1 C2 C3C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 1 2 3 4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c2 Enthusiasm -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c1 C1 C2C3C4C5 C6 C7C8C9 2 3 4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c2 Confidence -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c1 C1 C2 C3C4 C5 C6C7 C8 C9 1 2 3 4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 c2
  • 18. RQ2: How do interviewers interpret criteria for software engineer job candidates? Problem Solving -> Algorithms: When hiring candidates for a job, the top concern is whether candidates have sufficient technical skills through explaining CS Fundamentals. Nonverbal -> Interest: Interviewers noticed when there was poor communication during the interview through eye contact and poise. Oral/Verbal Clarity -> Fluent Speech: When making a first impression, the first words a candidate speaks and their tone are often the most important. Clear, Concrete Examples -> Connected Experiences: Being able to connect previous experiences to coding problems demonstrated the ability to adapt to new environments. Enthusiasm -> Visible Excitement: How a candidate displayed enthusiasm is one measure of interest and engagement in the interview. 18 [Original Criteria] [Interviewer Interpretation]
  • 19. Takeaways Interviewers care about technical soundness and the ability for candidates to communicate that skill. Most companies have consistent expectations for candidates across industry and size. One style of interview preparation may not work for all companies; some may require specific skills. 19
  • 20. On the Horizon Record Interviews with biometrics Identify when interviewers followed up with candidates Ask if interviewer would hire candidate Compare across ranked software engineering universities 20
  • 22. @DenaeFord Summary We have support for how technical interviews go in SE! Interviewers want technical soundness+communication Most companies have consistent expectations Preparation for company-specific interview makes a difference 22 Paper: http://bit.ly/TechTalkBalance Blog: http://bit.ly/TechTalkBlog
  • 23. ++