Answering the “Pair Programming Interview” Correctly

Identifying and vetting candidates for software development positions requires the use of tools and techniques. When hiring remote personnel, it is imperative to utilise several assessments that evaluate both the candidate’s technical proficiency and communication skills. One such assessment is the pair programming interview, which provides an efficient way of evaluating both of these characteristics.

If you are unfamiliar with the idea of a pair programming interview as a method of assessment for candidates’ qualifications, read on for a comprehensive explanation of this approach.

Let’s begin by defining the term “Pair Programming.”

In the Agile software development methodology, pair programming involves two programmers working collaboratively at a single computer.

During pair programming, the programmers take turns playing the roles of “the driver” and “the observer,” also referred to as “the navigator,” as per the demands of the given situation.

Pairing experts with diverse levels of experience allows for more skilled developers to guide and support their less experienced counterparts by sharing their knowledge in a patient and supportive manner. Though it is not typical to pair two specialists together to improve productivity and efficiency, it does occur in certain situations.

What Occurs During a Pair Programming Interview?

During a pair programming interview, the interviewer and applicant sit together at a computer to work on a programming task. In this scenario, the interviewer plays the role of a guide and observer while the applicant takes the lead.

During such meetings, the interviewer’s aim is to assist the applicant in resolving the challenge by giving them feedback and insights along the way.

The Benefits of Conducting Interviews with a Partner

Given the methodology used, I am interested in learning about the benefits of conducting pair programming interviews.

  • When it comes to honing essential skills, investing time and effort is crucial, and a pair programming interview is a potent method of evaluating a candidate’s interpersonal and problem-solving skills.
  • Undertaking a task with the interviewer is recommended to make more informed hiring decisions. This approach provides insight into how applicants perform under pressure and helps evaluate their potential success in the role.
  • Compared to other assessment techniques that may involve multiple stages, pair programming interviews can be a more efficient method of recruiting.
  • By facing a challenging problem statement from a knowledgeable interviewer, applicants can gain more significant benefits from the interview process, such as learning more about the organisation, the team they would join, and the job role they are interested in. This approach can be more engaging compared to other forms of interviewing.
  • Conducting remote interviews offers an optimal solution for recruiting personnel located at a distance. It allows potential hires to participate in interviews from the comfort of their own homes, making it an ideal choice for those who are not located nearby. If you are looking to recruit someone from a different region or country, online interviews are an essential tool to consider. In this digital age, let’s explore the advantages of conducting remote interviews in more detail.

An Interviewer’s Guide to Pair Programming Positions

You have concluded that conducting a pair programming interview is the most effective method for identifying qualified candidates. What’s next? Consider the following:

1. Preparing for the Interview

Establish a baseline test.

Maintaining equality and fairness during the recruitment process is crucial. To achieve this, every candidate must be offered similar challenges and assistance from the interviewer to guarantee an accurate and impartial evaluation.

Base your solution on an existing issue.

It is recommended to use a real problem encountered by the organization when carrying out these exercises. To ensure that the correct features are being tested, involving as many developers from the team as possible at this stage is advisable.

If the task appears to be too simple, applicants may not feel challenged, and their understanding of what to expect from the position may be limited.

Make it concise.

It is recommended that this type of interview should last no longer than 60 minutes. Consequently, the task must be feasible within this duration, but should also take longer than 30 minutes to accomplish.

Create a Brief List of Questions.

Prepare a concise set of questions for a pair programming interview. The term “mini” is emphasized.

To comprehend how each candidate approaches a problem, it is essential to be adaptable and inquire about the techniques they are presently using. However, it can be advantageous to have a set of general questions to ask all applicants.

Avoid asking excessive questions that could elicit lengthy responses, as this could cause the candidate to digress, thereby prolonging the assessment.

2. The Job Interview

Communicate your vision for success.

Before commencing the interview, make certain that your potential candidate is aware of the expectations. Explain the expectations and how they will be evaluated. Furthermore, if there are any subjects that should be avoided, make sure to emphasize this.

Allow Yourself to Consider All Possible Answers

It is crucial to have a receptive mindset when contemplating the solution to the challenge you have presented to your candidate. Do not disregard any ideas that do not align with your preconceived notion of the best approach.

It is advisable to offer your candidate a chance to converse about their background and experiences, as well as evaluate their ability to solve problems. They may display their ingenuity in an impressive manner.

Assist Applicants to Overcome Obstacles

If a candidate spends their entire allocated time answering a question that should be answered quickly, they may become dispirited. This could be a result of nervousness or a memory lapse.

If your candidate seems to be having difficulty, you may give them a boost by asking questions that can prompt their thinking process on the topic. This moment presents an excellent opportunity to gain insights into their reasoning as they endeavour to find a solution.

It is essential to evaluate their present grasp of the situation and the solutions they are contemplating. If they can identify the response to your query, they may be allowed to move forward with the assessment.


It is vital for potential candidates to feel at ease and engaged during the interview process. To achieve this, foster collaboration by asking questions and inviting them to express their ideas and viewpoints.

Alternatively, you can conduct coding tests regularly.

3. Following the Interview

Avoid becoming fixated on the “right” solution.

Assessing a candidate’s interview performance is the subsequent stage in the recruitment process. It is essential to bear in mind that having a candidate who is amiable and modest might be just as advantageous as having the perfect response.

Undoubtedly, achieving the desired result is crucial; however, ultimately, it may be more advantageous to have a prospective employee who can collaborate effectively with the team or who is receptive to constructive feedback and can grow as a consequence. This should be evaluated in conjunction with the company’s ethos.

Bear in mind as you assess each candidate.

Virtual Interviews for Pair Programming Roles

When conducting an online pair programming interview, possessing the right equipment is crucial. One of the most critical choices is selecting an appropriate platform to administer the assessment. It is vital to opt for a tool that is simple to configure and write code in, and has the ability to support the language, tools, and connectors that you employ. To ensure a successful experience for both you and your candidates, it is important to use a tool that is uncomplicated and effective.

Therefore, if you are searching for a venue to host your virtual pair programming interviews, take into account the following options:

  • For virtual pair programming interviews, CodePair is an excellent option. It allows you to simulate the daily routine of a development team by preparing specific modules and integrations in advance of a CodePair interview. Furthermore, the candidates’ answers to code pairing interview questions can be recorded and reviewed at a later stage when it is time to evaluate their performance.
  • CoderPad offers a variety of tools, including Code Together, a platform for conducting virtual pair programming interviews. Drawing Mode is included, which enables users to quickly visualize and organize their thoughts by allowing them to draw diagrams and sketches directly in the browser.
  • CoderByte offers hundreds of coding challenges that can be utilized as templates or starting points for creating your own assessments, in addition to the standard live pair programming interviews.


Finding a suitable new member of staff does not have to be a tedious task. Pair programming interviews can be an effective way of assessing potential employees, as they offer a chance to observe how they respond to and resolve complex problems in a high-pressure environment.

Works has a team of exceptionally skilled programmers, proficient in working with any language or framework. We have an extensive pool of potential employees, enabling us to identify the most appropriate candidates for any project. Our stringent process ensures our clients are matched with the most competent and compatible applicants. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact us.

Join the Top 1% of Remote Developers and Designers

Works connects the top 1% of remote developers and designers with the leading brands and startups around the world. We focus on sophisticated, challenging tier-one projects which require highly skilled talent and problem solvers.
seasoned project manager reviewing remote software engineer's progress on software development project, hired from Works blog.join_marketplace.your_wayexperienced remote UI / UX designer working remotely at home while working on UI / UX & product design projects on Works blog.join_marketplace.freelance_jobs