SPUG: Why aren't they hiring?

James Moore banshee at banshee.com
Fri Nov 16 14:15:13 CST 2001

> The fact is, when I started doing web dev, there *was*
> no CGI.pm -- or at least it wasn't part of the standard Perl
> distribution -- so I had to roll my own solutions, solutions which I
> still use in lieu of CGI.pm (whose API I really dislike, but that's
> another thread).

Interesting - that's exactly the kind of thing that I would love to have
come up in an interview.  Unfortunately, I'd put it in the "case of
not-invented-here syndrome" category.  In any case, though, talking about it
would certainly give both of us a fair amount of information, and would
hopefully let us decide if we could work together effectively.  It's the
kind of thing where a decision to hire or not to hire may be based more on
differences in technical philosophy than in coding competence.  That's not a
bad thing, though - interviews are mostly about deciding whether or not you
can work with this group of people, from both sides.  You may not be happy
in a situation where people would haul you out into a dark alley if you
won't use CGI.pm :-).

Someone else suggested that simple programming questions are bad because
they may not know the material suggested.  I'm not likely to ask anything
that you couldn't do in raw perl, without any modules.  I'm also likely to
cut you a huge amount of slack for things like routine names - writing
"routine_to_get_the_next_directory_entry" is fine, since I'm going to assume
you can read perl doc if you forget about opendir/readdir.  I want to know
your thought processes, not whether or not you remember particular routines.
If you're not able to write simple code, immediately, and under a little bit
of pressure, though, that's a strike against you.

And as for reducing the stress level in interviews, maybe I'm too harsh, but
I'm not sure I'm concerned about that.  You're going to be dealing with
stress on the job sometimes, and if you're a basket case in an interview I'm
probably going to think the same thing's going to happen in other
situations.  I find when I'm looking for a job, the single thing that makes
the most difference in my stress level is remembering that I'm interviewing
them every bit as much as they're interviewing me.  I want to know if I'm
going to enjoy working with them, and I'm perfectly willing to grill the
people on the other side of the table.

And always remember to ask the person giving the interview whether or not
they like working there.  Most of the time you'll get some sort of stock
answer, but occasionally you'll be surprised.  I had someone tell me once
several years ago that the company was a horrible place to work, with a
fairly credible explanation as to why.  It was sort of awkward turning down
the job when they offered it to me, since I couldn't exactly tell the hiring
manager that Joe Schmoe explained why the place sucked.

 - James

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