Phone Interview Protocol

Phone Interview Protocol

A few guidelines:

  • Whole interview should take 15-20 minutes (your discretion)
  • Take notes! Try to keep them gender/identity neutral. Notes can be done in side of interview window, above the chat click on the notepad (automatically carried forward) or in separate doc (you’ll get a chance to copy and paste in the end). 
  • Don’t over think it! Thanks a bunch. If you take notes scattershot, no worries. Everything’s recorded, we can go back over it as needed.
  • A few of the interviewees are high school teachers. We will select three teachers to join student teams the last two weeks of Summer App Space, they will function in a similar role to students. They should announce themselves right away as teachers. They get the same interview, but you might want to rephrase a few of the questions so that they make sense for teachers/skip ones that aren’t relevant. 
First 10-15 minutes, get to know them:
Ask some/all of questions detailed below in any order. Try to keep track of number in your notes. We’ve already asked #1 and #2 on our written app, so only if you are curious!
  1. Tell us about what you want to be when you grow up?
  2. Tell me about what kind of business you would start if you had $40,000 to start a business?
  3. Do you play any computer or mobile phone games?
  4. What are the computer or tablet tasks you do every day?
  5. Do you like math class? (It’s ok to say no.) Why or why not?
  6. What’s your favorite subject? What is your least favorite?
  7. If someone in your family has a problem with their computer, phone, or other technology, who fixes it?
  8. Do you like to read?
  9. What is something you have been curious about lately?
  10. Have you had a summer job before? How did it go?
  11. Tell us about a challenge you have had in your life, how did you overcome it?
  12. Why did you decide to apply to Summer App Space?
  13. Do you think of yourself as a hard worker?
  14. Tell me about a hobby or interest you’ve had for a long time.
  15. Have you attended a summer program before? How did it go?
  16. Who is a hero of yours?
  17. Have you ever done programing? 
  18. ….. <UP to you!>, feel free to add ideas here

Last 5 Minutes, see what they think of code:

If they’ve programmed before, ask them to pick their favorite language in the dropdown (dropdown set to Plain Text to start). If they haven’t, pick Python. The editor will bring up some sample code, a hello world of sorts. 
Note: If you are a little rusty on Python or haven’t programmed in awhile, just let the interviewee do the talking in that short section and mark it in your notes. Everything’s recorded so we’ll have another programmer review.
  • A) What do you think this code does? (Try to be encouraging for them to guess if they haven’t programmed before. Answer: print hello world 5 times for most languages, for some languages it is only once)
  • B) Run the code (click run). (If student got A) wrong, ask them to correct themselves by what it actually does)
  • C) Can you change the code to output something besides Hello World”?
  • D) Can you change the code to output a different number of times?
If they run into trouble at any point ask:
  • E) How would you debug this? (If they get really stuck and you know how to help, do. If not just encourage them to talk through the problem.)
  • F) (if you have time and programming knowledge): push the student technically until they have something to debug. Some ideas: change the name of the function to match what it now prints (easy), change the function to take as a parameter what it should print (medium), change the function to take as a parameter how many times it should print (hard). then change the function to not print if the number requested is more than 20 (very hard). if there’s even more time, can push student to use for loop or conditionals elaborately.

Closing Questions:

  1. “Do you have any questions for us?”
  • If they ask questions you can’t answer about the program paste this into the chat window and say it: 
    • “I can’t answer that, but the instructors definitely can. Please email X with any questions that aren’t on the website: X
“We’ll be letting everyone know June 1. Let us know if you need to know earlier.”

End Interview


How do I start an interview?

Just go to shortly before the interview starts on a computer with a modern browser. It displays a countdown to the start, and when it starts a button. Click the button to enter and hopefully, your student will be there

What if my interviewee doesn’t show up?

Bummer! Some students have been having problems with the platform. There have been a few unscheduled misses. I try to keep the interview tab open for 15 minutes to give them the chance to connect if I’m able to do other work on my computer. If you don’t have that leisure, give them a few minutes grace and then write it off. Sorry about that!

Where do I take notes/how do I share my feedback about the student?

Use the in-interview notes section or your own doc to take notes.  After the interview ends, these are auto-populated in a private feedback form (or copy and paste in notes from an external doc here). Everything is automatically saved and only viewable by us at Summer App Space! The star ratings and one short note above the lock goes to the kid (e.g. One tip to do better one thing they did great). Try to keep these notes gender neutral, but if not no worries!
We’ll be reviewing your notes, but the interview is also automatically recorded. So if you screw up the notes, no worries!

What if my mic/audio doesn’t work?

There’s a link in the top middle that if clicked displays a conference call number + pin. Click in and use your phones as a backup. Coordinate this with the student via the chat window.

What if my interviewee says they are a teacher?

Just don’t ask or rephrase questions that don’t make sense for high school teachers. Selection criteria are the same, so the interview is identical so far as possible. 

How do I get a code example for the interview?

Just select e.g. Python or JavaScript (student’s choice, default to python if the student has no experience) from the drop-down. A hello world will pop up. Use this as the starting point for the coding section of the protocol.

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