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An Interview Don't Do

Engineers — don’t make this mistake in hiring interviews:

Q: “We have this particular problem, how would you go about fixing it?”

A: “Simple. Ground-up rewrite”

This answer is a massive red flag for me, especially when given without asking for more detail. If an engineer’s knee-jerk answer is to rebuild everything, there’s a high likelihood they may not be able to function in any other environment than one they’ve built themselves.

This answer disregards all the parts of the project that are functioning well, that were hard-earned lessons. It also disregards the fact that the current team has the skills and tribal knowledge to run the current project and doesn’t consider their skillset.

So, it’s almost never the right answer to any question, and it’s definitely not the right answer in an interview. And in this age of Github copilot and endless internet resources, working in an unfamiliar codebase should be a surmountable challenge.

In my experience, suggesting a complete rewrite is the most consistent red flag you can use to disqualify a candidate.

Published Apr 23, 2024

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