I am trying to hire a new Project Manager to work for me. I have several people in the interview loop ranging from Developers to Product Managers. One of the developers I have on the loop is notoriously difficult. He is a very bright guy and often comes up with very difficult questions. I told him his purpose in the interview is to judge the technical competence of the Project Managers. While I don't need the project managers to code, I do need them to be able to talk competently to all sorts of people, and having a good technical background is key. The question, which I don't really want to type out, was a logic based question that any person, with no knowledge of programming, can get but it does test your ability to reason and explain your reasoning.
The feedback he gave on a few candidates he has seen has been mostly poor. Few if any of the candidates have been given a thumbs up because nobody has really answered his questions adequately. Curious, and maybe a little crazy, I asked him to give me the same questions. The theory being that assuming I can do my job correctly, if I can't answer the question then perhaps it isn't really a fair question to be asking. Of course, I'm setting myself up becasue if I can't answer the question, the question may in fact be fine, but I'm just not good enough to do the job of the person beneath me. Kind of a losing proposition. But hey, I'm not really afraid of my limitations, and I am pretty sure my job is secure.
Lucky for me I got the question right. Not only did I get the question right, but I answered the difficult follow up question that he told me almost nobody gets, not even the best candidates. So I felt a little bit proud of myself for that. Good thing to know I can pass an interview loop of someone who would be below me. :) Of course this poses another dilemma. Just because I answered it doesn't make it a good question. It doesn't mean that you can't do the job adequately just because you can't answer it. But perhaps I should bring a few more candidates in just to see if someone really can pass this seemingly tough interview, and then judge how strong of a candidate the person really is in comparison.