In my previous post I talked about what to do when presented with a question of priorities. I argue that the answer is to do “both”. But what about when those two priorities are mutually exclusive? “Do we make the button green or orange?” You can’t really do both in this case, right?
The first time I was involved in a technical interview I was asked to present and grade a coding question: “What does this script do?” The candidate was then handed a print out of a (relatively) simple VBScript that changed the computer name of a Windows PC.
Only one candidate answered correctly. Every other candidate failed the question with an “I don’t know.”
On first glance, this seems a reasonable question. Part of the job they were interviewing for often required working with scripts to deploy computers and software. I told them that we weren’t looking for a specific answer, just a general idea of “What does this do?” The candidate failing to even make a guess seems like an interview fail. They couldn’t think on their feet. They couldn’t think creatively.
But was it really a failure of the interviewee?