Quite often I find that I am in a situation where I am asked to interview who is more experienced than myself. How should I approach such interviews?

  • How can I judge such candidates?
  • Are there specific things that I need to prepare for in such interviews?

For example, consider the C++ language. The person I am going to interview will have much more knowledge about C++ than I do. In such cases, how do I make sure I'm judging the candidates based on their years of experience and not based on my personal years of experience? Has anyone else experienced this?


Judge the candidate based on the job they will fill, rather than how much experience you expect them to have. I've seen people with ten years of experience who really aren't equipped to deal with a position that can easily be filled by someone with three.


You should get up some good interview questions. For C++ there are tons of them out there.

Don't just judge them on having the textbook correct answer. Look for how they go about solving and or answer the question.

Pick out things they say and ask them to elaborate. Or say how would you use that in a real world situation. Take notes and look up thier answers when done.

You are looking to see if your BS meter goes off, during or after the interview.

Byron Whitlock
+1  A: 

There's more to an interview that just evaluating a person's technical ability. You should also be evaluating them for how well they'll fit with the team and all that fun stuff. Although by no means an authoritative source, but there is a recent discussion on arstechnica about how important interpersonal skills are relative to purely technical merits.

You can also ask them how they would approach problems that you've recently had to solve to get an idea of how they would approach them.

+7  A: 

Recall all the co-workers in your past who have been more experienced than you. Remember the good ones, and remember the bad ones. Which questions would best allow you to differentiate between the good ones and the bad ones; how would the good ones answer? Ask those questions.

Steven Xu
+2  A: 

Ask them the questions that have bugged you for long time or which have no definite answers. See how much they satisfy you!

Good way to test how they compare to you.
+5  A: 

Joel has some advice on the topic.

Full disclosure: Joel is one of the founders of SO, and I have nothing to do with him other than that I take part in SO and some of the other stack exchange sites.

Wayne Werner
+1 I just read that and it was AWESOME.

Resume experience, in my experience, is not a reliable indicator of knowledge, intelligence, or communication/social skills. I've seen PhD's have trouble with coding interviews! Simply ask what you're going to ask, and be unafraid. Have them explain concepts that might or might not be fuzzy to you (you don't actually have to tell them you're fuzzy on them!) and see if their answers are clear and meaningful. Give them problems that show their ability to think on the fly. Make sure this is a person you really want to work with and would trust with your codebase.

It's as simple as that! ;-)

Owen S.