?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

tech interview observations

I guess I don't see the point of asking questions like "how many gas stations are in <city>" and other "out-of-the-box" type questions such as are found in How Would You Move Mount Fuji. I've been debating this with a couple of people in comp.programming and have pretty much come to the conclusion that these questions aren't any better than asking design related questions about the technology the candidate will be working on if hired. These aren't questions that require memorization of the answers; they involve understanding the principles of the technology and how they might be adapted for other situations.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
gconnor
Sep. 7th, 2006 06:37 am (UTC)
I like questions that are about the journey more so than the destination. I had some interesting questions asked of me by googlers this week... maybe I will post them.
gregbo
Sep. 7th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC)
I guess I don't understand what isn't learned from a (somewhat) open-ended technical question that can be learned from an open-ended question outside the scope of the job.

Here's an example, for someone interviewing to do a job similar to mine at AltaVista: Some time ago, I was looking at the awstats code, and noticed that if log record timestamps were out of order, it considered them corrupted and did not incorporate them into the results. Think of some reasons why that might cause problems and suggest alternatives.

There aren't necessarily "right" answers to this question, but it allows the interviewer (me) to learn if the candidate has thought of something beyond just how the code works under ideal circumstances. If I were to ask "gas station" type questions, what would I learn that would give me a better idea of how the candidate would handle a non-ideal situation within the general scope of the job?


gconnor
Sep. 8th, 2006 03:46 am (UTC)
I guess I don't understand what isn't learned from a (somewhat) open-ended technical question that can be learned from an open-ended question outside the scope of the job.

I'm with you on that one. I have limited time and probably my #1 judgement is "Does this person have demonstrable skills corresponding to the experience implied by this resume?" If a big part of the job is creative problem solving, I'll probably want to ask a question that calls for problem solving, but it would still be within the general scope of the (other) experience and skills required.

Perhaps the gas-station type of questions are more useful for positions where the candidate is coming out of college and doesn't have 2 years experience at the job context? But yeah, in general I can usually come up with questions that are testing skills and knowledge in the actual subject area and I would use those rather than "general puzzles".
gregbo
Sep. 9th, 2006 02:42 am (UTC)
Perhaps the gas-station type of questions are more useful for positions where the candidate is coming out of college and doesn't have 2 years experience at the job context?

Maybe. I've heard some people use this type of question for people with little experience. In such a case I would prefer to have candidates who'd participated in an open-source project even if they had no professional experience. While writing code would be great, writing documentation or tests would at least show me some commitment and initiative.

When I didn't have much experience, I participated in open-source projects (such as they were back in the 1980s). There are much more of them now, and their existence is widely publicized. Also, with so much more online documentation accessible, it's far easier now for people to find out things about technologies they might be working on (or want to work on) than when I was younger.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

September 2016
S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930 

Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow