Technical Interview using Visual Studio Code

In this difficult time of Covid-19, work from home has become a norm. Offices are inaccessible, and all meetings have moved to online, including technical interviews. Technical interviews are critical criteria of judgement for hiring software engineers. Technical interviews are primarily used to judge problem solving skills and critical thinking abilities of the candidate. In software industry, technical interview usually consists of interviewer asking a puzzle or algorithm problem, and candidate need to write a program to solve that.

Now in online interviews using video/audio calls, this becomes really difficult to conduct such live technical interviews, where candidate can solve the problem in real time and have conversation with interviewer at the same time. There are some commercial off-the-shelf solutions available in the market, that allow interviewers to conduct such live programming interviews. But two limitations with those commercial solutions – first they require a learning curve for both interviewer and candidate to get familiar with those platform before they can have productive interview; second recurring cost/price is associated with those commercial platforms, which could be an obstacle for smaller companies, where interviews are not conducted frequently.

So how about conducting these live technical interviews using an IDE, which is most popular within industry programmers and with no additional cost, i.e. using Visual Studio Code. These technical interviews can be conducted using Visual Studio Code Live Share collaboration sessions. In the subsequent section of this post, you will see how easy it is to setup a live share collaboration session between interviewer and candidate, and most important thing to note – candidate doesn’t need to install anything, they can participate within live share session using browser itself.

Prerequisite – Interviewer need to have Visual Studio Code installed, along with Live Share extension pack.

Step 1

Setup the environment with problem definition and basic program structure

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Step 2

Schedule Interview by creating a Live Share session

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Step 3

Copy and Share live share collaboration link with candidate over email or chat

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Step 4

Candidate access live share collaboration link and joins using browser option

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Step 5

Once candidate joins the session on browser, they can collaborate in the same way as they are collaborating from desktop client. This collaboration will be in real time, i.e. whatever changes candidate will be making within the code, interview can visualize those changes in real time on their end.

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Step 6

Candidate code for the problem, and finally execute execute/run within the browser itself and test out the solution

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Step 7

During the interview, interviewer also has an option to start an audio call with candidate directly from with the Visual Studio Code, or collaborate using the Chat session within the Visual Studio Code.

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Step 8

Finally when the live interview is over, interviewer need to end the live session

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Benefits of using Visual Studio Code Live Sharing Session for Live Interviews

  1. No extra cost associate while conducting live interviews.
  2. Flexibility to conduct interview is any of the programming languages supported by Visual Studio Code.

Please note – Visual Studio Live Share currently doesn’t support creation of sessions in advance.

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