Interview Hints & Tips

I’ve just finished a period of interviewing for both senior and junior PHP programmers. To make my life easier next time around I thought I should publish some interview do’s and don’ts.

Do wear a good suit: we’re  a new media marketing agency with a casual dress code. But first impressions count: when I first see you, you really don’t want me thinking more about your t-shirt than your coding skills.

Do some preparation: find out as much as you can about the company and about me. It’s not that hard, I’ll have facebook’d you, checked your twitter account, read your blog: I want to know what you are like as a person. Return the favour, not only will I be flattered, if you’ve done your research correctly there won’t be an awkward pause when I ask if you have any questions for me.

Do brush up on your syntax. Especially if you’ve been warned that it will be a technical interview. We give a short technical test that covers the very basics of  PHP syntax, you’d be amazed at how many people claim to have 5 years of commercial experience programming in PHP who don’t know that you check type equality using ‘===’.

Don’t use a manual for the test: unless you’re prepared to get every question right. (I do know that sometimes your mind will go blank in the middle of an interview so you can can get one wrong.)

If you do use a book, put it on the table, not on your knee, and when I ask you about it don’t act shocked that I noticed you’ve used a book when you’re in a room with glass walls…

Do talk about design patterns, be prepared to name a couple and explain when and how you might use them. I’d much prefer you to have heard of the Gang of Four than to be able to name every speaker at the last PHP London Conference.

If you do talk endlessly about PHP London 2010 please don’t name every other speaker except me. (If, foolishly, you did miss my talk you could mention that you read the twitter stream and were impressed at the good comments. Downloading the presentation and talking about it wouldn’t be a bad idea either.)

Do be prepared to talk about what you’ve done, the size of the project teams you’ve been involved in, what your role was: be specific. The more detail you give me the easier it is for me to find the evidence that you can do the job I want to hire you for.

Do talk about project management, delivering high quality code to tight deadlines. I may not believe you but at least I’ll know that you realise that I think it’s important to deliver good stuff on time.

Do give me example of when you’ve successfully managed difficult situations with clients, colleagues, managers, sales people; if you’ve never had a disagreement, you’ve never coded as part of a team.

Do know who Kernigen & Richie are. I won’t feel quite so old.

Do know the difference between an object and a class. Hint: it has nothing to do with CSS.

If I ask what you do for fun, don’t answer “Sex”.

Do relax; I want to hire you, if I didn’t you wouldn’t have got this far. The purpose of the interview is to find evidence that you have the skills I’m looking for.

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