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

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Tue Jan 27 11:40:10 EST 2009

On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 11:32 AM, Insurance Squared Inc. <
gcooke at insurancesquared.com> wrote:
> 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.

Nice assessment there and I agree. "Correctly crafted", "elegant" ...etc.
are all nice, but getting the job done fast with minimal code is a virtue.
More code is often worse than less code (think complexity, maintenance,

If I was looking for the ideal non-programmer candidate, it would be :

$ sort -r filename

Does the trick using existing tools. No new code needed.
Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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