Pair Programming Interview

What Is a Pair Programming Interview?

A pair programming interview is a technical assessment method used primarily in the hiring process for software development roles. It involves two individuals, typically a candidate and an interviewer (or another developer), working together on a programming task or project. This method simulates a real-world work environment, allowing the interviewer to assess the candidate’s technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and how they collaborate and communicate in a team setting.

Key Features of Pair Programming Interviews

  • Collaborative Coding: The candidate and interviewer write code together, solving problems or building features in real-time.
  • Interactive Environment: The interview takes place in an interactive setting, often using a shared coding platform, where both participants can edit and run code.
  • Real-World Simulation: Mimics actual working conditions, giving insight into the candidate’s practical coding skills and teamwork capability.
  • Communication Assessment: Evaluates the candidate’s ability to communicate ideas, receive feedback, and collaborate effectively.
  • Problem-Solving Focus: Focuses on the process of solving coding challenges rather than just the final solution, highlighting the candidate’s logical and analytical thinking.

How Does a Pair Programming Interview Work?

  1. Preparation: Interviewers prepare a coding task that is representative of actual work the candidate would perform on the job.
  2. Introduction: At the start of the interview, the interviewer explains the task, setting clear objectives and expectations.
  3. Coding Session: The candidate and interviewer work together on the coding task, discussing strategies, and implementing solutions.
  4. Evaluation: The interviewer assesses the candidate’s coding skills, problem-solving process, ability to adapt and learn, and interpersonal communication.
  5. Feedback: Post-interview, the interviewer provides feedback to the candidate, and in some cases, the candidate might also share their experience of the process.

Best Practices for Pair Programming Interviews

  • Clear Instructions: Provide candidates with clear instructions and expectations to reduce anxiety and allow them to perform at their best.
  • Realistic Tasks: Choose coding tasks that closely resemble the actual work and challenges faced in the role.
  • Encourage Dialogue: Foster an open and communicative environment, encouraging candidates to verbalize their thought process.
  • Constructive Feedback: Offer constructive feedback during the session to see how candidates respond and adapt.
  • Respectful Environment: Ensure the interview is conducted in a respectful and supportive manner, recognizing that the setting can be stressful for candidates.


No, it can be used for candidates at all levels, from juniors to seniors, adjusting the complexity of the task accordingly.

It's important for the interviewer to provide hints or guidance to help the candidate move forward, evaluating how they learn and apply new information.

Learn more