SPUG: PERL technical interview

Fred Morris m3047 at inwa.net
Sun Jan 22 10:55:03 PST 2006

An observation about current interviewing fads and developer team culture...

What you're alluding to, I think, is the (questionable) notion that if you
push people out of their realm of knowledge then you'll learn something
(what, exactly?). In this scenario, whatever answer you give first is the
"wrong" answer, they'll always want it done another way.

The biggest pitfall is implied by your comments that you've come up with
another way to do it: if you keep this from the interviewers and struggle a
bit and then magically out pops another clever answer you've rigged the

The thing I hate about hypothetical white board problems in general are how
poorly thought out they usually are, unless they are of the extremely
simple and clever variety. Oftentimes the question and attempts at followup
reveal a telling lack of grasp of the big picture by the interviewers
themselves, and in that environment just how ultimately useful is
cleverness going to prove to be?

The interview question I haven't been asked lately...

Which comes first:

* optimization
* correctness
* working code

At 11:04 PM 1/21/06, Creede Lambard wrote:
>Come up with a good way to reverse a string. I get asked that about two out
>of three interviews, it seems like. Oh, and no one seems to like
>  print join ('', reverse( split (//, $string)));
>which seems unfair to me. I mean, if they're going to expect me to use Perl,
>I should be able to use Perl, not use Perl in a particular way they mandate
>(they seem to always want something that uses substr). [...]


Fred Morris

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