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The Other Side of the Table

turgid (580780) writes | about a year ago

User Journal 6

In recent times I've been fortunate enough to be the one conducting interviews instead of the one being interviewed. It's been an eye-opening experience. The first few times I was very nervous in case I asked a wrong/stupid question. I wouldn't want to put someone off or give a bad impression of the company.

Without wanting to sound conceited or pompous, I have been absolutely astounded at the apparent lack of ability of some candidates.

In recent times I've been fortunate enough to be the one conducting interviews instead of the one being interviewed. It's been an eye-opening experience. The first few times I was very nervous in case I asked a wrong/stupid question. I wouldn't want to put someone off or give a bad impression of the company.

Without wanting to sound conceited or pompous, I have been absolutely astounded at the apparent lack of ability of some candidates.

Put it this way: I'm completely self taught. I have spoken to people who are claiming to have developed software for nearly 20 years in some cases and make a big song and dance about all the hardware they've programmed for, and all the fancy IDEs, static analysis tools, industry standards they've followed etc. and about their wonderful C and C++ skills.

But what really beats me is how anyone can have been coding for longer than a fortnight and not know what an array is, or to have been doing C++ for 15 years and not know about parameterised types.

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6 comments

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Heck (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#44044895)

Heck, I'm no programmer at all (more a PHB), but I could fake my way through explaining both of those.

Re:Heck (1)

turgid (580780) | about a year ago | (#44053229)

I've been doing it for years (faking it), and what's more, I get paid! :-)

Terminology (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about a year ago | (#44047619)

Ok, for the array, that's weird... I've done my share of C and C++ programming and reading this I was like "I don't know what parametrised types are". So, I googled it and it seems you talk about templates. See, there... failed your interview already. I know about them, don't particularly like them because you never know who will maintain your code and this stuff isn't exactly simple.

Anyway, just wanted to say that.

Re:Terminology (1)

turgid (580780) | about a year ago | (#44053169)

You wouldn't have failed my interview :-)

This was an interview for a senior software engineer (so one step below team leader) and this guy claimed to have been doing C++ since the early 1990s. I was trying to gauge how much he knew. I didn't say to him, "So what are parameterised types?" I tried to get him to tell me some of the features in C++ that help with code reuse etc. and I was trying to be diplomatic and lead him into answering the question. When I basically explained it, he looked amazed and when I said "templates" he seemed genuinely interested and said he'd never heard of that feature before but he had heard of the STL.

Now, I'm not a C++ apologist, and I agree entirely with what you say about templates being a disaster waiting to happen [yosefk.com] but C++ is a necessary evil in our industry. It's everywhere. We have C++ code where I work. I try to avoid C++ where possible. But when being "professional" I have to "be professional" if you see what I mean...

And if you're an embedded software developer and I ask you what some of the issues might be when using C++ on a resource-constrained embedded system, please don't get uppity, look at me like it's an impertinent question and shrug your shoulders as if it's me that's being unreasonable...

It's fruit-break time again! :-)

Re:Terminology (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about a year ago | (#44058335)

And if you're an embedded software developer and I ask you what some of the issues might be when using C++ on a resource-constrained embedded system, please don't get uppity, look at me like it's an impertinent question and shrug your shoulders as if it's me that's being unreasonable...

I'd love to work in that industry. Any openings in Luxembourg? ;-) 1MB of RAM still considered a luxury? I like challenges like that. Mean and lean data structures, if you can use them at all. Last time I did something fun like that was a CGI in C where I could not change anything on the target system (which was a big-ass server), but I had to do everything from scratch as the only thing I could assume were standard C libraries. Me, vi, my C compiler and valgrind. Hours of fun.

Re:Terminology (1)

turgid (580780) | about a year ago | (#44063733)

I'd love to work in that industry. Any openings in Luxembourg? ;-) 1MB of RAM still considered a luxury?

Unfortunately not..

We have stuff that runs on PIC chips with 14-bit address buses and other stuff with 64-bit CPUs running Linux. It's pretty cool.

Me, vi, my C compiler and valgrind. Hours of fun.

You'd fit right in :-)

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