Interviewing effectively is a hard skill to master. Not only do you need to work out if the person being interviewed can do the job, but also if they’ll be the best out of all the candidates and if they’ll fit in to the team dynamic. All this in a very finite space of time. You’re not going to manage that if you just ask a few questions you’ve downloaded from the web.

I’m unashamedly evil when it comes to interviews. Once the niceties are over you’re going to find yourself face to face with my laptop and a copy of Eclipse. What happens over the next 45 minutes or so is entirely down to you.

This method of trial by fire is something I’ve endured a number of times, and every time I’ve hated it. You’re in the spotlight, you’re under pressure and you’ve got someone questioning everything you do. I recognised very quickly that this is a very powerful interview tool because it leaves you wide open and quickly cuts through any front.

What I ask you to write (which, incidentally, will be decided based on the preamble, the telephone interview if there was one, and your CV) is pretty much irrelevant, as is whether you finish it. The discussion and discovery that happens in the time is what counts. I’ll probe as many subjects as I can, dropping them as soon as I’ve determined if you’re strong or weak in that area. All of this on a platform you may not be familiar with because I use OSX.

You can use the internet because it’s not about what you can remember, it’s about how you apply knowledge; you can ask questions – in fact failure to ask any questions will probably have you flunking the interview; you can say you don’t know, we’ll move on – it is actually OK not to know every tiny thing I question you on.

It’s brutal, I know. I’ve been there. You’re constantly off guard, the goal posts keep moving, the questions keep coming and during all that someone is expecting you to code at the same time. Do well in that and the job itself will be a cakewalk. But hey, if you’ve made it to the interview then I obviously think your CV matches what I’m looking for, so you shouldn’t have a problem 😉