How should a non-technical hiring manager interview a developer?
There's no rulebook for interviews that says the person conducting the interview has to have the same skill set as the person on the other end of the table.
With that in mind, the best way to approach hiring technical positions like developers is to be confident in your abilities as a non-technical manager and honest about your role and your skillset and enlist help wherever possible.
While you might not be able to assess a candidate's technical skills, you can determine whether their personality and work experience are a good match for your organization. That will go a long way toward making the right hiring choice. You can teach someone a technical skill, but you can't teach things like organization and project management quite as easily.
What are some Non-technical Developer Interview Questions?
- What project from your career are you most proud of and why?
- Describe a project you completed that involved a complex process or processes. What did you do to stay on track and ensure that you were following the process?
- Please provide an example of a time when you came up with a way to change an existing process or function. How did you convince others that it was the right thing to do?
- What do you do when faced with a new task that you have not done before?
- Tell me about a time when you missed a deadline or were not able to deliver a project on time. How did you handle this situation and what did you do to prevent it from happening again?
- Describe a time when a project your were working on changed midway through. How did you deal with this change?
Be open with the candidate about the fact that you are in a non-technical role and do not be afraid to ask for additional detail if needed. Strong candidates should be able to explain their work to you in non-technical terms and provide references that may be more familiar to you.
These explanations are a good indicator of how a developer will interact with non-technical members of your team. If you can follow along as a non-technical hiring manager, that bodes well for any other non-technical staff the hire will work with on the team.
Whether it's requirements gathering or user testing, nearly every technical position will have some level of interaction with non-technical staff. This aspect can easily be overlooked when the hiring committee is only made up of technical people.
Candidates should also be able to answer difficult technical questions
comfortably and have a variety of projects to draw from when providing examples. The projects cited should be in line with those that appear on the resume and cover letter.
Get Technical Interview Help
If you have the opportunity to add others to the interviewing committee, consider bringing in a representative or two from your technical team. They can ask candidates about technical details from their resumes and report back to you on how well the candidates answered the questions. Ideally, this would be someone in a similar role to the position you are trying to fill.
If this is not possible, ask them for interview question recommendations and insight into how you should approach the interview process. A developer will know what questions to ask and how a candidate should respond to them. They may even be able to provide you with a list of keywords to listen for during the interview.
Interview questions should be specific and ask for examples from their previous positions. From a non-technical perspective, you are trying to determine how they prefer to work, how they interact with supervisors, and how well they understand what your organization does.
You should be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not they've done their homework about who you are and what you do, and whether they see themselves fitting into your company's culture.
There's a lot of demand for developers in the marketplace; if a candidate is not excited about your organization and the work it does, he or she might be looking for another job before you know it.