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

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Tue Jan 27 14:58:24 EST 2009

Khalid Baheyeldin wrote, On 01/27/2009 11:40 AM:
> On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 11:32 AM, Insurance Squared Inc. 
> <gcooke at insurancesquared.com <mailto: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, ...etc.)
> 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.

Our initial thoughts weren't too different. However, I assumed the 
context of Glenn's question to be in the middle of a program that does 
other things.

My first thought was something like 'sort (&mydata)'.

Yours was scripting.

But I do like the story. Aside from everything else, it points out to 
look to see if the person fits within the organization, whatever their 
technical skills may be.

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