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Open-book Interviews with Googling as a Skill

3 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Nov 2, 2007 5:39 AM by Vincent O'Sullivan

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Andy Dent

Posts: 165
Nickname: andydent
Registered: Nov, 2005

Open-book Interviews with Googling as a Skill (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Oct 31, 2007 4:01 PM
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Would you hire a programmer who insisted on working things out or using APIs solely from memory? If we expect people to be able to quickly research things on the web as part of the programming, why not include that in interviews? Is search efficiency a skill that should be on your resume?

Joel suggests requiring a programming test in an interview as point 11 of his 12 point Joel Test.

If you're doing that, it would be more realistic nowadays to also give someone web access and see how they go about researching APIs or problems.

Having recently interviewed candidates for a range of developer positions, one of the questions the panel agreed on was a variant of how do you solve a problem. We also agreed that part of the discussion should indicate a willingness to go look on the net for answers.

We interviewed some very good candidates. I've also recently had a few interviews where I was on the other side of the table. This made me think about just what skills we don't regard as skills because they are taken for granted - everybody does them.

Just because we expect everybody to do something doesn't mean they are automatically good at it - should we look for this and, furthermore, should we try to improve how existing employees use this skill?

Kay Schluehr

Posts: 302
Nickname: schluehk
Registered: Jan, 2005

Re: Open-book Interviews with Googling as a Skill Posted: Nov 1, 2007 3:40 AM
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Hmm... searching as a micro skill. You never seem to train anyone in the US or AU, right? A few days ago someone came up with the glorious idea of presenting a little list of interview questions for Python coders containing also knowledge about some accidental libraries and frameworks no one will know anymore one year in advance. We have no brains but at least we show some correct responses.

My prefered skill can be described as follows. You invite someone for a lunch and ask him to work out something afterwards. If the interviewee gets sleepy after a heavy meal, you let him drop, because he wastes working time in idle mode. A real hacker never sleeps and gets hired. Low performers have no reason to live.

Thomas Guest

Posts: 236
Nickname: tag
Registered: Nov, 2004

Re: Open-book Interviews with Googling as a Skill Posted: Nov 1, 2007 5:41 AM
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A couple of points:

1) I'd be more interested in trying to find out how much recreational time the applicant plans to spend on the internet during working hours. I've worked alongside people who can't concentrate on their job because they're more interested in social networking, political newsgroups, etc.

2) I've noticed some people use a web search as a lazy source of easy answers. I suggest the first option should be to read the manual -- then maybe you'll learn something (even if what you learn is that the manual isn't much good!)

Vincent O'Sullivan

Posts: 724
Nickname: vincent
Registered: Nov, 2002

Re: Open-book Interviews with Googling as a Skill Posted: Nov 2, 2007 5:39 AM
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That's so funny!

Better still, interview them at 2am because, as we all know, "real" programmers never sleep.

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