[Chicago] Sanity Check

Frank Duncan herbieman2000 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 2 03:56:35 CET 2010

I think you're on crack.  I find one of the best ways to evaluate a
new hire is to have them code something through with me.  I get a feel
of not only how they approach a real problem, but also how they work
with me, what kinds of questions they ask, what kinds of development
habits they have, etc, etc.  It's not simply a question of whether
they can solve a problem, but how and why they chose the solution they
did.  Then I can work through it with them and learn more about them.

The reason I'm not as found of open source code is that it takes a lot
of time for me to work through and understand it to the level that
I'll be comfortable making evaluations based on it.  For instance, if
you solved it the best way that exists, but I don't understand that
you did, I may be harsher because I thought the problem was easier
than it actually was.  However, if the problem is one I'm familiar
with, or have solved myself, it gives me a good baseline about what
questions to ask and what to expect.

And yes, marketers are asked to bring in a portfolio of previous work,
as well as to think up, on the spot, ideas for how to run a marketing
campaign.  They are absolutely asked to apply their creative skills to
different problems in the interview just as they would on the actual
job.  I actually think it's a great thing that our industry has
started to learn from the lessons other thought based industries
rather than meaningless trivia quizes or waxing philosophical about
previous projects.

On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 8:31 PM, Peter Fein <pfein at pobox.com> wrote:
> Hiya-
> Need to sanity check with a broader group... I've had a few phone interviews
> lately, which have been followed by demands for programming tests. I am THIS
> CLOSE: || to telling the next company that asks to shove off.
> The actual content of the tests has ranged from the trivially easy to
> straightforward but annoyingly difficult. The former at best indicate
> whether I'm totally lying about knowing the language at all. Most of the
> later have been ripped straight from Code Golf or a sophomore algorithms
> textbook. In no case has the test had anything discernible to do with the
> actual job. Being a person of integrity, I don't just go look up the
> answers.
> I'm particularly ticked off because:
> * I have ample open source code, which I've pointed people to. In fact, one
> company got in touch with me because THEY LIKED MY OSS CODE, then demanded I
> do a coding test anyway.
> * Some of the companies are startups, which have explicitly prided
> themselves on their low-bureaucracy/bullshit factor. Hypocrites.
> I've been coding in Python for eight bloody years already. Marketers don't
> take marketing tests, do they?
> Should I tell them to bugger off? Am I on crack?
> --Pete
> PS - I have a blog post on this and other frustrations titled: "IT Hiring:
> You're Doing it Wrong (or) The Author Sinks His Career Prospects for Fun and
> No Profit"
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