[kwlug-disc] how would you interview potential linux employees?

Insurance Squared Inc. gcooke at insurancesquared.com
Tue Jan 27 11:32:41 EST 2009

When I've interviewed in the past, I look for two general things.  
First, some interest and aptitude.  I think that's what your questions 
get to.  In any event, ask some questions that let them talk about how 
much they like linux. 

Secondly, give them a quiz.  Nothing that has any right or wrong 
answers, and you're not looking for specific answers.  Just something 
that lets you see how they approach a problem and what they'll do to 
solve it. 

For example, the last time I hired a developer, I presented them with this:
- you have a list of 100 items in a file.  how would you sort them in 
reverse alphabetical order.

A number of folks I interviewed fumbled.  Some came up with huge, robust 
technically correct answers.  And the fellow we brought on board did a 
10 line bubble sort.

Give them say 5 minutes to do the quiz (you can do maybe 10 questions) 
and assure them there are no right answers.  You can then use the 
answers - and how they approached the answers - as a subject for further 
discussion.  The contrast in my above example was that all the other 
folks I interviewed were struggling for the pretty answer, the one that 
uses the least amount of CPU time and so on.  The other fellow explained 
that there was only 100 items in the list,so he'd have the bubble sort 
written in 5 minutes and job done - and it wouldn't make any real 
difference in terms of speed between having an elegant answer (except 
the elegant answer would take a lot longer to write than 5 minutes). For 
me, it was the correct 'business' answer.


Robert P. J. Day wrote:
>   here's a wide-open question -- if you could give some advice to
> someone trying to hire linux expertise, what sorts of questions would
> you suggest asking?
>   yes, that's a fairly boundary-free request, but a colleague asked me
> to suggest a few things.  i figured you could start by weeding out the
> total posers pretty quickly:
> * What distros and versions have you used and are using now?  For
> what?
> * What other distros are you familiar with?  And what are their main
> features -- what selling points set them apart.
> * What hardware have you installed Linux on?
>   obviously, this is pretty lightweight stuff but i think it quickly
> shows who's up on their stuff and who isn't.  are there any websites
> that discuss this?
> rday
> --
> ========================================================================
> Robert P. J. Day
> Linux Consulting, Training and Annoying Kernel Pedantry:
>     Have classroom, will lecture.
> http://crashcourse.ca                          Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA
> ========================================================================
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Glenn Cooke
Insurance Squared Inc.

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