PHP Coder Interview Ideas


  • SockDev

    I just skimmed this thread, haven't seen any of the answers but I'll give them a go in a bit.

    I do have a related question, though. Some of you will have seen the thread about my current workplace. The boss is talking about hiring a new person or two, again for web dev and it's fairly likely that I'll be the one doing the technical interview.

    I just don't know what to ask. I mean, I could do Fizzbuzz, or the 100 to 1 test we saw, that would likely weed out people that are of the same level of the people who already provide problems in my workplace, but I'd like to be smarter than that.

    The above questions seem useless to what we do - we're all PHP and API gluing, and I'm already doing some of the serious heavy lifting with things like SQL optimisation (though I would like some more people who have some idea about doing that!), so hardcore optimisation and micro-optimisation are largely irrelevant.

    My gut says I should ask their thoughts on StackOverflow and possibly whether they're aware of PHP 7 and what will be in it, and maybe a logic puzzle or two (rather than a coding one) because if I can get someone who thinks through problems, things like syntax are learnable and I have no problem with people who consult the manual to check things. (I don't even have a problem with people referring to SO if there is something useful to be gleaned, provided they don't immediately take it as gospel and actually understand what the code will do)

    Thoughts? (Sorry for off topic, but it seemed as natural a place as any)


  • kills Dumbledore

    @Arantor said:

    ask their thoughts on StackOverflow and possibly whether they're aware of PHP 7 and what will be in it,

    This will show you who really enjoys programming and reads around the subject. On SO, their specific opinion doesn't really matter as long as they're aware of it and have thought about what value, if any, it can provide.

    @Arantor said:

    things like SQL optimisation

    One place I worked had a SQL question in the interview that was really good at getting the logic more than specific SQL knowledge. I think it was about a running total, and the solution they wanted was a triangle self join. There were a few stages to think through, and they guided you through it if you got stuck. People with years of SQL took a while, but with help a newbie with the right mindset could get through and show their potential.



  • PHP is a rapid development language. So it's perfectly feasible to give them a bunch of assets (html templates with most of the frontend taken care of) and ask them to make a quick app. Something like a login screen and a TODO list. A few pages to see if they get basic CRUD stuff, security and some algorithm stuff. 2 - 3 hours top.

    @boomzilla, you should probably move this into its own thread under the "Coding Help" section.



  • I don't PHP, but my understanding is it's a language with a lot of gotchas, so probably the most important thing is how diligently they read documentation. Not sure how to test that, though. Maybe show them some bad code and ask them to identify the problems?


  • SockDev

    Oh, PHP is chock full of gotchas. Showing them an example of bad code and asking them to identify the problems is a good one - it's not like I'm short of examples (see the thread in the Lounge for examples!)

    My interview test, FWIW, was a weird coding thing to prove I knew something of the language, followed by 'can you build us a small thing using any framework of your choice'.

    This was not the smartest interview I ever had and I don't think it demonstrated anything particularly useful to them anyway since nothing of what came up in that exam was even remotely useful for what came along afterwards. I do know that they did actually look at the code I gave them, or at least they tried to run it. Whether they actually looked at the code is another story.



  • @Arantor said:

    My interview test, FWIW, was a weird coding thing to prove I knew something of the language, followed by 'can you build us a small thing using any framework of your choice'.

    This was not the smartest interview I ever had and I don't think it demonstrated anything particularly useful to them anyway since nothing of what came up in that exam was even remotely useful for what came along afterwards. I do know that they did actually look at the code I gave them, or at least they tried to run it. Whether they actually looked at the code is another story.

    Well it led them to hiring you and now you're helping them fix their shit. So it can probably be categorized as a successful test in that regard.


  • BINNED

    But that's only because we're talking about

    Arantor PHP enthusiast-masochist

    Anyone else would probably be either semi-useful or out of the door :stuck_out_tongue:

    I now wonder - if they provided some actual code, would you accept the job in the first place?

    And I messed the "reply to and now can't change it. Yay.



  • Don't focus on PHP, as you can assess, any moron can do that. Ask about procedures, source control, package mgmt, stuff revolving around good developers do.



  • @Eldelshell said:

    Don't focus on PHP, as you can asses

    Focusing on asses won't net you great developers.

    Then again, @arantor's company seems beyond saving, so might as well go down with a bang...



  • @Arantor said:

    My interview test, FWIW, was a weird coding thing to prove I knew something of the language, followed by 'can you build us a small thing using any framework of your choice'.

    Mine was to build a basic application (on my own time) to manage members in a scrabble club, allow entry of match results and to show summaries of the players' stats. It's quite a good test because it shows how you structure code in a realistic application. They also wanted to demonstrate a basic knowledge of SQL, hence the statistics sections.



  • Mine was also of that sort. To build a basic SPA with key navigation and video streaming.

    It also shows the level of commitment and the general quality of the work.

    Although some may argue they shouldn't be doing work on their free time or without pay.


  • kills Dumbledore

    @Onyx said:

    And I messed the "reply to and now can't change it. Yay.

    Edit, click reply on the post you wanted to reply to. Probably need some changed text too, for the body is too similar thiing


  • BINNED

    @Jaloopa said:

    Edit, click reply on the post you wanted to reply to. Probably need some changed text too, for the body is too similar thiing

    You sure that works now? I'm pretty sure it didn't use to.


  • kills Dumbledore

    Apparently not. My rookie mistake was assuming that Discourse works in a sensible way.

    I must be new here



  • asking if they know what psr is is a good metric about the kind of php dev is the person you're interviewing


  • SockDev

    True. true, but at the same time I don't entirely want to give the impression that PSR is a thing we use ;)


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