SPUG: Programming questions at an interview
brianmaddux at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 16 07:57:17 CST 2001
I'm one of those people that just doesn't do that well
in an interview where I have to come up with code on
I'm a relatively fast coder, especially in Perl, but I
tend to write little test programs, look stuff up in
my library of Perl books, and in general think about
the problem. I absolutely *hate* to have someone sit
and stare at me while I work through a problem.
One of the problems is that a fairly simple program to
you, might be something new to me (ie. 'ls -R' in
Perl). Give me a book and 10 minutes or so with a
computer, and I'll have it. Give me a pencil and
paper, and forget it. Its just not something I
normally do, so I'd probably get it wrong the first
time around. I do a great job for my employer, and my
clients, but in too many technical interviews, I feel
like a bumbling fool. They just don't portray reality.
At the same time, I know people who interview great.
They come off as very knowledgable, technically
skilled and energetic. But when they actual sit down
to work, they are horrible. They don't work hard, they
talk too much, and they know the buzzwords and
concepts, but can't write a program to save their
As someone who's interviewed, and been interviewed, I
don't like to do either. I have never been in an
interview (either side) that I think any of the real
abilities of the applicant have been discovered.
So, here's a possible suggest for an upcoming meeting.
Does anyone know an "expert" in technical interviews?
I'm not talking about a self-proclaimed expert, but
someone you know, possibly have seen at work, and feel
they were able to get to the heart of the matter. I
think enough of us have been on both sides of the
table to be interested in a talk both sides.
--- Marion Scott Warner <warner at oz.net> wrote:
> On the occasions that I have been the Interviewer I
> have tended to stick
> with very basic programming questions, and in the
> language that the
> person is most familiar with. I remember when I was
> at Microsoft a number of years ago and the
> interviewer asked me to write
> quicksort in 'C' using typedefs.
> Well, I had been out of school long enough that I
> could not remember the
> algorithm for quick sort and the interview was all
> down hill from there.
> By the way the "Cobalt Group" is hiring. I
> interviewed with them
> yesterday and was able to answer about 2/3s of their
> Perl related
> questions. Quite honestly it had a lot to do with
> the context in which I
> last used Perl, DBD/DBI in CGI scripts to several
> databases. So the bulk
> of the work really ended up being SQL statements.
> The question I really
> blew it on was with regular expressions, since in
> the context of what I
> was last doing I really had no occasion to use that
> part of PERL. Since
> the regular expression syntax in PERL is not the
> same as the Unix shell
> , I always end up getting confused about the syntax
> and end up looking
> it up in the 'Little Black Book'(plug for my
> favorite PERL quick
> reference). Oh Well, I guess I will not be working
> at Cobalt, and it
> actually sounded like a very interesting position.
> When interviewing someone, what I want to determine
> is whether that
> person is capable and hard working.
> If someone already knows a couple of languages, I
> assume they can pick
> up a new one in short order.
> Just my 2 cents.
> Scott W.
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