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Full-day simulation to filter developer candidates

Brian mentioned on the Coach training that at Ternary Software they used a full-day simulation to filter developer candidates.

They invited 4 devs for a whole day in a simulation of developing a product for a client, role-played by someone at Ternary. Two people would observe from the back.

The candidates didn't know, but the simulation was set up to fail. Too many issues, deadlines. Initially the client was happy but as time passed she was freaking out more and more.

At the end of the day, they debriefed. Explained that the simulation was set up to fail and went through all the points where points where the candidates could have done better.

Candidates showed different behaviors in response to the situation. Some blamed the client, some blamed the other candidates. Some admitted their own shortcomings and their part of the failure.

Do you have the script of this simulation or a similar one I could use as inspiration when I work on our hiring process?

1 Replies
Brian Robertson
03/09/2016

I don't have any materials for it any longer, but from memory, I can tell you that the project was to develop a clone of an old video game (I think it was something like Space Invaders or Galaga).  It was actually for a game to be given away as a promotion in a cereal box for a new "Retro Arcade Cereal", but usually the team didn't actually ask the client for enough context to realize that until way late in the day, once they started to realize how little they actually knew of the client's real goals for the project.  We started the scenario as "it's your first day of work, your boss is on vacation, but he left you this memo" - the memo told them what to build (which wasn't exactly what the client really wanted), and gave the client's name and phone number and said feel free to call the client with any questions (few people did until way later in the day)...

That's all I've got from memory; Lex played the client for us - she may remember more...