[JOB] Perl Software Developer and Database programmer

Adam Turoff ziggy at panix.com
Wed Feb 22 16:58:37 GMT 2006

On Wed, Feb 22, 2006 at 08:10:58AM -0800, Ovid wrote:
> --- "O'Shaughnessy, Jamie" <jamieosh at amazon.co.uk> wrote:
> > This is exactly it, there are two reasons I would ask technical
> > questions at interview:
> > - to find out the depth of knowledge and experience of a specific
> > technology
> > - to find out how the person would go about filling holes in their
> > knowledge
> As a thoroughly depressing example, here's a sample question I throw at
> people who apply for Perl jobs:  [...]

It's depressing, it's always been this way, and it's not unique to Perl.

I remember an interview *mumble* years ago for a job as a C programmer,
and the entire technical portion of the interview hinged on a single

	Write strstr().

Everything else was just chit-chat.  

Take dozens of resumes, cherry pick the ones that actually look like
they have the necessary skills, and maybe one applicant in a hundred
could answer that question.  I found a similar state of affairs when I
was interviewing Perl programmers a few years later.

And it's not limited to programming, either.  I heard an interview with
someone who had Richard Feynman attending his dissertation defense.
Feynman asked two questions at the beginning, which effectively bracketed 
the candidate's knowledge of physics.  The first established a lower bound, 
and the second established an upper bound.

The difference between Feynman evaluating a PhD candidate and hiring a
programmer is that hiring managers don't really care about the upper
bound -- finding someone whose skills are above the minimum lower bound
is enough.  Sadly, asking a single, simple technical question, with no
strings attached, is often sufficient.


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