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Possible Duplicate:
How do you interview someone with more experience than you?
How can I really “wow” an employer at an interview?

I am a bit puzzled by the whole technical interview process. I have been on a few interviews recently and I keep hearing certain phrases during the interviews. And I want to get more insight into the mind of the interviewer and the process itself.

Can anyone please shed some light into this? What do they really want? I am convinced that it is not the actual correct answer to the problem one is presented with because getting the right answer hasn't gotten me a job.

How do they "get a glimpse into my thought process"?

EDIT: I am adding this to the question because I think I might help. During the interview when you are writing code on the white board and they ask you to explain the process or approach are they expecting me to act like a player on who want to be a millionaire? Do I need to explain every little detail or reason for doing something?

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marked as duplicate by S.Lott, Vitor, Caleb, kevin cline, Mark Trapp Sep 20 '11 at 4:24

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Not a duplicate... This question asks How do they "get a glimpse into my thought process"? The link you mentioned, it was about giving the guy some advice about some issues, while this isn't asking an advice... –  c0da Sep 20 '11 at 2:25
@c0da: Interesting observation. I provided specific guidance on how interviewers (like me) specifically look for specific information on candidates. I'm not sure what you saw in the answer to that question, but the answer I gave to that question is the EXACT SAME answer I'd give to this question. Rather than copy and paste, it seemed simpler to reference it. I'm sorry you didn't see that, but the answer is the same. Therefore, the question is the same. –  S.Lott Sep 20 '11 at 2:38
I had read the complete question, gave it and upvote too, marked it as favourite as it might help me sometime. I had read your complete answer, and upvoted it (it was a really nice answer, hard to find something of this quality and with so many upvotes). On the other hand, the question never answered how the interviewer is able to look into one's mind and what all factors guide the interviewer in making a question, and your answer kind of, umm, doesn't answer that. I think YOU need to re-read the answer again. –  c0da Sep 20 '11 at 2:50
Both possible duplicates address the practical aspect of this question as it relates to software development. Anything more about the psychology of interviewing is off-topic here. –  user8 Sep 20 '11 at 4:25

2 Answers 2

Interviewers don't consider the amount of knowledge you have. They see your ability to deduce things you already don't know. Mind you, an interviewer always has years of experience of interviewing people, so he knows how to get into your mind. He looks for your inquisitiveness, your logic (and not the final solution), your understanding and the complexity of solution. I too had a lot of interviews in college, and finally got selected in one I was least hopeful about (because they grilled me on C++ Ctors amd Dtors for 45 mins, and I wasn't sure if I had done it right).

He gets a glimpse into your mind because he knows how to do it. He tricks you, sometimes asks you silly questions & sees your reaction, he sees how you respond to problems that he knows you will definitely don't know, he sees your aptitude towards solving a problem and a positive outlook. And you said it right, right answer doesn't get you a job, a right approach does.

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But how do they do that? I am obviously taking a left when I should be taking a right. So is there a way to know if I am taking the right approach? –  luis.madrigal Sep 20 '11 at 2:30
I would advice you to stick to what you think is right and not to confuse yourself. That helps, even if you're wrong. I personally feel no point in shifting back and forth because you think you're wrong. –  c0da Sep 20 '11 at 2:53
Interviewers do not always have years of experience interviewing people. (If you disagree, please explain how one gets into that line of work.) Some interviewers are good, some not so good. Some ask crazy-sounding questions to gauge your reaction and see how you tackle a problem, others ask crazy-sounding questions because they think they're supposed to do that and it makes them feel clever. Don't try to tell which is which, though... just give it your best shot no matter what. –  Caleb Sep 20 '11 at 3:21
Aha... Well said @Caleb. And yes, an interviewer doesn't always have years of experience. Sometimes (as I've seen), some very senior people come to take interviews too. –  c0da Sep 20 '11 at 3:37
+1 for ..right approach and not right answer! –  Robin Maben Sep 10 '12 at 9:04

Interviewers give you a problem, and then try to assess how you approach it. They want to see how you might attack a problem, because it is indicative of how you might approach a real problem. If you just jump straight into coding, it shows them that you don't emphasize design and planning. If you don't test your code after you write it, it shows that you may not think about the corner cases in real problems. They don't necessarily want to see the right solution, they want to see how you attack a problem. If they were simply going for knowledge, they'd probably just give you a written test with a bunch of questions, a la multiple choice. They want to see how well you can understand a problem, how well you can communicate, and how well you can formulate and execute a plan to solve the problem.

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