Good Python Interview Questions

When we were growing our team of Python devs at CMG, I was involved in a lot of interviews. I really enjoyed it, meeting and hiring interesting and talented engineers.

I’m not a big fan of quizzing people on technical minutiae in interviews. I do think that asking some questions about technical likes and dislikes can be very illuminating though.

For example, “What’s your favorite standard library module?” (Best answer in my book here is itertools or functools, but anything that shows they have hands-on appreciation for the depth of the standard library is good.)

I’ve also asked, “Tell me something you don’t like about Python.” This can be a great gauge of someone’s level of sophistication and breadth of experience. If they say “But I like everything about Python!” that’s a red flag (and I say this as a bona fide Python lover and career man). It means they either lack enough breadth of experience to see Python’s weak points, or they lack the confidence to answer truthfully.

My favorite answer to this question was, “I don’t like that lambda expressions can only be one line.” It had never occurred to me to see this as a defect, but now every time I am writing code that drives me to the same feeling, I think about the engineer who gave that answer. (We did hire her and she was great!)