As a continuation from the post Be Better at Interviewing, I wanted to briefly talk about how there are some analogies between teaching and interviewing.

I used to be an Italian instructor, teaching classes to adults, and one strategy you would often use in the classroom was that of encouraging the students to talk and practice what they were learning.

No corrections

In particular, it would be detrimental to constantly correct a student while they are trying to articulate a sentence, for minor grammar mistakes that do NOT interfere with conveying the meaning of the message.

It is instead appropriate to offer an alternative (correct) solution when the meaning is not clear and the message uttered cannot be received.

In the same fashion, if we are in an interview setting, especially for an apprentice position, we should hold off on intervening for small syntax errors, or inaccurate or not too elegant form, in favor of letting the candidate talk through and express themselves, given the possible layer of nervousness that could be present, as well.

Give more room for them to talk, and listen

The other good rule of thumb to follow is that of having the student talk more than you, instructor, do.

While it is important for the listening comprehension to rely on a native speaker’s input to exercise, it is also extremely important working early on not being shy, and try to use the target language to communicate.

The same concept applies in the interview setting where you can practice being a good listener.


Finally, the concept of metalanguage: when in class we explain and show a new grammar structure, explained in the target language, it’s known as metalanguage, that is talking about the language using that language.

The same can be said when we talk about code, in a code review, or in a code architecture presentation, or in writing documentation, in problem-solving, rubber-ducking and pairing.

Where the code is ultimately what gets compiles and runs the application, but we talk out loud about it, and in languages like ruby the similarity between code and how you can read it in English is very close.