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Well, I am interviewing right now. I have written software for a while (Fortran IID, PL1 among others). 1. I don't get rattled much anymore. How many of the "non-programmers" are early/mid 20's, and freeze in the headlights? 2. What critical thing are you doing that you only want "the top 1%"? Why would the top 1% want to work for you? Is all your work such that only the "top 1%" can do it quickly and well? How about a reliable, hard-working 70th percentile programmer who's going to night classes and is easy-going and pleasant to work with? Is there no routine maintenance that the "top 1%" might find boring that he can learn from? 3. Especially for the younger engineers, what steps do you take to make them better? To help them move from the top "45%" to the "top 10%"? 4. Take a good look at the tone of these comments. Are these attitudes that you admire and respect? Would you really want to work for someone is is tempted to ridicule some candidate because they have insufficient humility? 5. Something that took me by surprise: the system and network administrators have little respect for developers, and see development positions as an entry step on the way to being a sys or DB admin. This explains more about the pay than poor programmers using up jobs and eating into employers profits. 6. For us with jobs and strong resumes, these are not tough times. For many others they are very tough times. Let's try this: try to put your candidate at ease, and determine what his/hers skills are. If you are trying to stump them, that comes through clearly, and your hostility is even more unsettling to the stressed candidate. 7. Somethings I am interested in: getting better, and helping my coworkers get better. To that end, I learn on evenings and weekends, and try to be as helpful and supportive as I can with my team. That said, how important is it whether my method of determining a prime made up on the spot in an interview is O(n), or O(n/2)? 8. I think there may be a real problem with American professional programming culture. This is not to say that anyone should be hired who cannot do the work. The eagerness I see in posts to denigrate those with (perceived) lower skills, however, is widespread, and distressing. I am concerned that younger people do not see Software Engineering as a challenging and interesting creative endeavor, as much as an unpleasant and combative arena. If this is indeed the case, expect to see the quality of the "top 1%" to decline along with the number of new practitioners entering the field.
Commented Mar 16, 2010 on
The Non-Programming Programmer
The Non-Programming Programmer
I find it difficult to believe, but the reports keep pouring in via Twitter and email: many candidates who show up for programming job interviews can't program. At all. Consider this recent email from Mike Lin: The article Why Can't Programmers... Program? changed the way I did interviews. I ...
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