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Appropriate Interviewing For a Worldwide Search?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the can't-please-everyone-so-i-choose-to-please-no-one dept.

Businesses 440

jellomizer writes 'I am a manager of a small Software Development department, looking to hire some more developers. By edict of the CEO, the search must be made globally, so we are dealing with different cultures and different ideas of truth and embellishment, etc. To try to counteract this, we give the potential employees tests where I watch what they do, to see if they actually know what they say they know. However, it seems a lot of applicants drop out when I mention that this test is mandatory. Is this a sign that we caught them in a lie, or are we weeding out good people where we shouldn't be? Would you be willing to take a test as part of an interview? If so, is there any type of heads up you would like to know beforehand to make the decision of whether to take the test easier?' What other difficulties have people seen while trying to hire from many different cultures?

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A good test (4, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318063)

would be to give them a real life problem, ask them to solve it, and tell them that they can ask you whatever they want to, because that's the way it works in real life. If they know the answer immediately, well ok, but really what you want to see is their problem-solving strategy. I firmly believe that it's not about what someone knows that makes them a valuable employee, it's how they figure it out. How they solve the problem. People who rely on the resources around them, generally speaking, are better to have around then people who think they have to have learned the answer in a textbook somewhere. If the nature of your job is such that answers are already known, then you don't need smart people. You just need workers. Such a test doesn't need to concern itself with being culturally sensitive.

I'm starting to think that our interviews here should literally be: give them a day's work and see how they do.

Re:A good test (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318137)

hire them as a contractor for 30 days.

I've been hired into bigger projects many times that way.

A better test (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318157)

Make them do the "Which feminine hygiene product are you?" quiz on blogsbook.

Re:A good test (2)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318219)

I would like to add to the parent who is spot on. Do not give those "programmer" tests that are basically tests on how well you can act as a manual compiler. I took one of those for an interview in Ft. Lauderdale many years ago for a large video rental chain and it was just testing some made up logical problems and then decoding some made up "computer" language - it was a bunch of alphanumeric symbols that you had to look up the directions and exceptions for each symbol and come up with numeric codes. After a while, I got this horrible migraine, thanked them for their time, and walked out. I had a few years of programming experience under my belt too so I wasn't some newbie. I ended up with a much better gig somewhere else.

BTW, they are, at least back then, a Visual VB shop.

Re:A good test (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318675)

I know one test that is short and simple for interviewing. It is fairly common, so I passed it around before I graduated. The fizz-buzz problem. You would not believe how few people get this.

Re:A good test (4, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318275)

it is a good point about tests.. there are 3 kinds of people in the world when it comes to puzzles, those who havn't a clue how to solve it, those who figure it out slowly by thinking it through, and those who read the answer while they were surfing the web when they should have been working.

Trouble is CEOs tend to hire the latter ones. The reality is that the former group can be as good, if not better workers that the other 2 groups, when they're not asked stupid arbitrary tests, and apply themselves to real world problems.

I went to an interview a few years ago, the boss gave the test, on a flipchart. It was a 'write code' type test, unfortunately he asked relatively open ended questions ("how would you implement a stream class") but the answer had to be the one he expected or wanted, and as I did it differently, I was obviously a useless candidate.

So the problem is how to make your tests applicable to real people, in the real world. I would suggest you give them a large problem to solve, one that has no 'right' or 'wrong' answer, and make sure they explain what they're doing and why. The why matters more than anything.

If you're still thinking about this, why not post your test to a slashdot comment. Then I guarantee you'll get a load more candidates who pass your test with flying colours, I'm sure none of them will be the kind who surf the web during their work hours....

90 day probey (2, Interesting)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318307)

... I say hire them on a 90 day probational period ... if you don't like them then fire them and try try again. I think that works across all industries. You get to see them at work, you get familiar with their attitudes and working habits, and you always have a scapegoat that if you just don't like them, you can fire them.

Re:90 day probey (2, Informative)

rfuilrez (1213562) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318427)

I work for Siemens Energy and Automation. Mechanical work. Our current policy is to hire all employees through a temp service, through which they must complete 90 days before being considered for permanent employment. This works out in the companies advantage because they basically have 90 days no obligation, or responsibility if some one gets hurt to the employee. They can dismiss them at any point they feel necessary. It also let's you really see how the employee works on a day to day basis, not just an interview or the first week or 2.

Sucks for the employees though. At least 90days of no benefits, paid holidays, or vacation time.

give them a day's work (3, Interesting)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318421)

I knew a guy once who, when he got a large fungible job in, would put out a want ad and "interview" people exactly as you describe. He'd literally get hundreds of hours of free labor this way, and the bastard knew he'd never be called on it.

It is for exactly this reason that I don't work for free during interviews. If my prospective boss isn't sharp enough to know that I know my stuff after a brief conversation and a look at my credentials, then I'll happily work for his competition.

Re:give them a day's work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318527)

Well, he could always pay the candidates for their day's work, that's fair, right?

Re:A good test (5, Interesting)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318517)

I'm starting to think that our interviews here should literally be: give them a day's work and see how they do.

At my current job (Which required relocating out of state), I was basically given something like this. After the initial round of phone interviews, I signed an NDA, and was given a design specification for part of the product that I would be working on. I was told to ask whatever I needed clarification with, and to keep track of my hours so they could pay me when I was finished, regardless of whether I was hired or not. After I thought I was done, I submitted my project. They had a few revisions that they wanted, so they sent it back to me to see what I did with it, and presumably see how I handled needing to make changes.

Once they approved my work, I was flown on-site for the final interviews. During those, they asked about my project, why I had done things certain ways, and different ways that I had considered completing it. The project took me about 25 hours of work to complete. The day after the interview, I was offered the position.

In the end, the project that I had worked on was incorporated into the software that we released. From what I've heard, all new-hires go through this process, all with a different project to complete. It seems to work well for the company, we've got a very high retention rate.

Re:A good test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318523)

Tests are bullshit.

I spectacularly failed a "test" during a job interview process after someone recommended me...I was tired, stressed, uncertain what I was being tested about, the test was (to me) abstract...and add to that the factor that it totally lacked context...after 18 years in industry, artificial, "scholastic"-style tests not only felt insulting but also seemed unreal.

The person who recommended me convinced the people to accept me onto a training course despite the test results....end result (I was told) is that I set a new standard.

A test without context is not a test. A test for the sake of testing is not a test. A test that is not real-world, taken at a real-world pace, with real-world aids (such as books or net-access) is not a test...just a memorization query.

The real test, and the only question ever worth asking, is..."do you know where to find the answer to the question..."

Good developers dont have time to take many tests (2, Insightful)

epicureanideal (1252132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318065)

The problem you're going to run into is that developers in high demand are well, in high demand. Their time is valuable. Every hoop you make them jump through is fewer jobs they can apply to (if they even bother to apply anymore, they aren't just thrown job opportunities like cans of free beer), so that makes your job less attractive. Unless you can hire 1000 people, why are a large number of people going to waste their time taking these tests? Perhaps you could do the test, but only after you've narrowed your applicant pool to a small number of people, and only if your job entices them enough to not apply to 4 or 5 other jobs in the time it takes to apply to yours. I do like your solution though of actually watching them write the code though, because that does prevent them just copying and pasting other code and sending it to you.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318111)

Most people don't do testing until the 2nd or 3rd interview. Such candidates have a pretty good idea if this is a company they'd like to work for, and if not, they refuse the interview. They don't have to spend that much time taking tests, because presumably they only end up in a few final-round interviews before they find a job (unless the testing outs them as a fraudster).

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (4, Informative)

slarrg (931336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318375)

I've never taken a job at a company that requires a second or third interview. If I have to make more than one trip to your campus I'll take another job before you get a chance to make an offer. Likewise, if you have any testing that requires more than a trivial amount of time on my part, I'll pass on the "opportunity" to waste my time at your company for free. If you want me to spend my time you'd better be paying me for it.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318461)

You've got to be kidding me. If I have to come to a location multiple times for a job interview, I'm probably wasting my time. The only way I'd bother is if we start discussing salary right away, so I don't find out at the very end that this employer is a low-baller.

In my 11 years of experience and many, many job interviews, I've never had to come back to a place for a second interview. If the employer can't tell if I'm a good fit in one visit, they're doing something very wrong.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

epicureanideal (1252132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318135)

I think another problem you are going to have though is, unless you give them a fairly trivial solution to solve, they are probably going to need to think about (and or research) the problem for a while. Not only think about it, but take some time to actually complete the problem. You couldn't give a test like "write me a molecular dynamics simulator in the next 15 minutes". You could test their ability to know syntax and functions off the top of their head, maybe their general coding style, or watch them do some simple refactoring after they finish a quick once-over, or maybe you could GIVE them code that needs to be reorganized and watch them reorganize it (which I think is a better test of usable development skill than the quick once-over). I would try to find ways to test things like the latter, and not things like the former so much. I think some of your good coders are going to be put off by the idea of someone trying to measure how quickly they code, or if they know syntax off the top of their head. I tend to know a lot of the syntax but I suspect plenty of programmers need to reference a manual for obscure stuff and I wouldn't hold that against them as long as their design and problem solving ability is good. Measuring the last couple things is harder to do.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318447)

This is about IT and not about programming, but the best question I was ever asked in an interview was the classic POSIX locking/deleted file/du vs. df question (each reports different amounts of space used, why?) because it gives the competent interviewer a chance to instantly evaluate your level of knowledge. Some people say "oh yeah, that one" (which wasn't me at the time, heh) but the responses tell you how familiar people are with basic commands they should know a lot about, and what their problem solving skills are like.

I think the people who say that they don't have time to take tests are bonkers. If it's contract work, then you should be hiring people based on a trustworthy recommendation; otherwise, testing is a necessity. By the time you actually interview face to face, you should have a clear idea of whether you want to test someone, or from the other side of the coin whether you want to be tested. I've never gone to an interview without some preparation over the phone, including some actual interviewing. To do otherwise is to potentially waste a lot of everyone's time.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

Jherico (39763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318139)

Bullshit. If you want the job, you do whatever the employer asks to prove you have the qualifications. Unless you work is universally known, like John Carmack, or Linus Torvalds, you're never too good to take an entrance exam.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318259)

Or maybe since you are not planning on being their slave you go work for someone else?

You want me to work during the interview? You can pay me.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318303)

Exactly. Anyone who "refuses" to take a test for something as important as a career change is probably going to "refuse" a lot of other stuff once he actually gets in the door. Someone who is "too good for tests" is generally trouble in the making.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318335)

I would have 0 problem taking a test, but too many times I have seen interview "tests" that are nothing more than a quest for free labor.

Unless a serious offer is being made I am not taking a test.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318369)

You mean like a free consulting day for the company? That's a half empty glass. Maybe you should look at it as another company you can put on your resume. :)

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318417)

I have been put in such situations and I just politely end the interview process.

I don't work for free, and anyone that would expect me too is not going to be an employer I want to do business with.

If a serious offer has been made and you want me to write on a whiteboard, great. If you want me to email you a finished project that you get to keep, you are going to have to pay.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (2, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318609)

I do a software test for my candidates.
I hand them a small (40 line) program that is broken. Since most of my work involves code maintenance it's real world enough.

I tell them up front that the object is not to fix the code per-se, but rather to walk me through them debugging it. I've hired guys who couldn't solve the problem because they showed enough promise that I wasn't worried that I could train them, and it was obvious that they could think well.

We have a total of 4 hands on tests. Three on hardware, one on software (R&D lab). Worked out well for us so far.
-nB

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

Jherico (39763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318409)

Exactly how much productivity do you think is possible to get out of an interview candidate? In the world of interns and off shore labor, if you think a company is going to get a positive net gain in work done by 'stealing' work from interview candidates, you're retarded.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318499)

I imagine sending out the same requirements sheet to 100 interview candidates lets you get positive work out of them if even only 1 does what you needed.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (2, Insightful)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318529)

One of my first programming jobs had a logic test as part of the application process. That seems like a good way to weed out the people who can't think on their feet or are too important to jump through a hoop or two, without insulting anyone with a VB quiz or free labor.

Even though aptitude tests are pretty annoying, I really see them becoming more important since it's getting harder and harder to judge a person by their resume.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318381)

That sounds like more if I desperately need the job, and that's the only one available.

Remember, the interview is also about seeing seeing if the employee would want to work for the employer as well. If I had to choose between an employer that had a test, and one that didn't; I'd probably lean to the one that didn't.

When choosing colleges, one college wanted me to submit an essay and do a personal interview with an alum. They were quickly off the list.

PS: universally known? never heard of John Carmack.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318407)

If you want the job, you do whatever the employer asks to prove you have the qualifications.

      OK, next job interview, get on your knees and suck my cock.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318423)

One thing employers should do more often is talk about salary up-front, so prospective employees don't waste a lot of time with testing and interviewing just to get an insulting low-ball offer. This has happened to me several times, and it's annoying. This doesn't mean testing is bad; I had some simple tests in the interview for my current position, and they gave me a very generous offer unlike other firms in the area.

I've found too many companies are tight-lipped when it comes to salary; they want to waste a LOT of your time in interviewing and such (and their own employees' time too), but then when the hiring manager says "he's great! hire him!", the HR person wants to give a lowball offer, and refuses to bring it up to anything reasonable even when you have a much better offer in-hand. If these companies would just state up front what their salary range is, we wouldn't waste all this time and effort.

Meanwhile, these tests do NOT need to be difficult or long. I had to help phone-interview some contractors at one job, and I came up with some very simple questions to ask them. One was, "In C++, can you tell me what a 'class' is?". Several contractors who stated "expert-level C++ knowledge" on their resumes couldn't answer that basic question. So you don't need to give them a 2-hour test; just some simple questions, maybe some short code samples with errors in them, etc. to see if they're completely lying about their credentials or not. So many people lie on their resumes (and this is definitely cultural; I saw this mainly in people from India), it's really important that you screen out the liars from the people who can actually do the job.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318539)

Totally, if you are offering less than current_income + 10%, why should the interviewee waste his time?

I have to be behind at least one mtg payment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318601)

... in order to feel the need to take the test. I've lived in my house for 19 years, and I haven't missed a payment yet (knock wood).

If they think I got the Master's in SW Engineering by being bad at tests, there is so little respect for my degree that my potential employer is without potential.

Re:Good developers dont have time to take many tes (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318651)

I do like your solution though of actually watching them write the code though, because that does prevent them just copying and pasting other code and sending it to you.

Copying and pasting code amounts to 90% of even the best programmers' jobs. Other than some aspects of GUI design and input validation (which even then just means "tweak the conditionals of what you have", not "write an input handler from scratch"), if you sit down at a blank editor on anything but a toy project, you either work in academia or need a much tighter deadline.

And there, I have my biggest objection to "testing" applicant, particularly in a vacuum. In the real world, I program with access to huge libraries of functions and at least half the time, a web browser open to look random things up as I need them. Yeah, I could rewrite Windows from scratch if you give me 500 man-years to do it, but do you want to see if I can really do the job, or do you want to see if I happen to know the prototype for some particularly obscure network calls off the top of my head?

People pay me to solve problems efficiently, not because I've memorized the latest edition of K&R.


(and for the record - Yeah, I pretty much do have the prototypes for the entire standard ANSI C library memorized, but would prove just as valuable if you wanted me to program in any language, including one I've never used before)

It's mandatory here. (4, Interesting)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318077)

I know there are definitely people who refuse to take a test out of principle. I'm not really sure what principle this is; maybe it's that they do poorly on testing in general. But we have been burned too many times by people who know how to talk the talk but turn out to have very little real skill. Sometimes too, there are multiple similarly skilled candidates to choose from. Giving them a coding test; especially an open-ended one can give you some insight into the sort of developer they are. Some people will be a better fit for the team just out of the approaches they tend to take toward problem solving.

Also, tests must be taken in-person. We do not allow phone or otherwise remote test taking. There are a lot of really unscrupulous agencies and individuals out there. Some of them have you interview with a different person than who they claim to be, including the person who will take the tests if any. The guy completely aces your questions and really knocks your sock off with his knowledge. Then he shows up, and his voice sounds different. You put him in front of a keyboard, and he asks you which key is the "Any" key.

The thing is, it's no offense meant to the interviewee. Indeed, just as it protects our interests to be certain that we hire a qualified developer, it's in your interests too (if you are a qualified developer) - the fewer and more quickly we sort through the deadbeats, the faster we get a job to a person who deserves it. It's not that you'll necessarily lie to us, it's that there are plenty of people out there who will, and until we really get to know you, the only way to tell the difference is to require you to answer questions that only a qualified individual is able to.

Re:It's mandatory here. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318127)

do you want to hire someone who 'qualifies' or someone who is an asset to the team?

Airfare (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318223)

Also, tests must be taken in-person.

The article is about a worldwide search. Who covers the airfare?

Re:Airfare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318599)

have them do it over webcam and shared desktop

I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318117)

Sorry, but when I did I saw them go screwy so many times. almost always of you didn't do it the predetermined way you were wrong, or if you answered with an answer someone didn't know, you were wrong..

Plus after 15 years I find it a tad insulting.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

jvillain (546827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318171)

Agreed. I don't remember what movie it is from but I like the quote "After 10 years in the majors I don't try out."
If you can't read a resume why did I write it?

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (3, Insightful)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318353)

If you can't read a resume why did I write it?

Because people embellish resumes and creatively bullshit through interviews who have no experience anywhere near the task at hand that they are supposed to do. An open ended test weeds out a lot of that. Even those that have been doing it for years may not be versed in how the rest of your group is working and could not have the kinds of experience you really need.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318561)

Because there's a LOT of liars out there, and it's expensive to fire someone after finding out that they completely lied about their experience and ability on their resume.

I've interviews contractors for a position that required C++ knowledge (not expert level, but intermediate), and people who claimed "expert level knowledge of C++" couldn't tell me what a "class" was.

There's a lot of people that can bullshit their way through an interview and sound like they know what they're talking about, but they really don't. I don't mean to brag, but I think I do very well in interviewing because I speak well, but luckily I actually do pretty well on the tests employers give me too so I usually get offers for any interview I go to. But there's definitely been interviews I've had where I was not tested, and could easily have gotten a job I didn't qualify for by lying on my resume.

This isn't like professional sports, where an employer can simply look up a player's publicly-available scores and records. After all, it's pretty hard to fake hitting a ball in front of large crowds and TV cameras. And if an employee doesn't have a bunch of open-source code out there to look at, there's no proof at all that he can do what he claims.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (2, Interesting)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318199)

You find it insulting that a total stranger doesn't take your word for how good you are? You must get insulted very often.

I mean, what's there to be insulted about? They asked you to do a beginner's test? Well, if it's clearly below your level, then that's a good thing for you -- now you know that you're not the one they are looking for.

Now, if I came strongly recommended by somebody, and they give me a test, maybe the guy who recommended me should be insulted. Me? Never.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318459)

It's no different then hiring an electrician and then asking him take a test on Ohm's law, it's insulting and not professional.

I ahve references, I have letters of recommendations, I can talk about a subject intelligently.

Tests are out.
 

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (2, Insightful)

Dr_Harm (529148) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318549)

Electricians have to be licensed by a State agency which guarantees a minimum skill level. To get that licensing, they needed to pass a test. They also need to carry insurance, in case they screw up.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318585)

References are mostly useless unless you also know the reference person. Anyone can find some lackey to put in a good word for them. And lots of people can bullshit about a subject and sound knowledgeable while not being really qualified to work in it.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318613)

"Tests are out."

Then so are you. Next.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (2, Insightful)

RileyBryan (1475681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318211)

The passage of time is definitely the only attribute that makes you a good programmer. Thats why I don't take tests, either- Because I've been around for almost 30 years and I would just blow the competition away so bad that it wouldn't be fair. Unless, of course, I want my potential employer to know that I can actually program and that I'm not just lying my ass off about my skills.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

RayMarron (657336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318253)

I would think taking such a test would also be a good test of your potential new employer. If they are rigid and unreceptive to new ideas as in your examples, you probably don't want to work there anyway. If they appreciate that you solved the problem even when it wasn't necessarily the way they would do it, that says (to me) that they're probably pretty easy to get along with.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

Jherico (39763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318263)

I know devs with more than 15 years experience who couldn't write a class to save their life.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318371)

I know devs with more than 15 years experience who couldn't write a class to save their life.

That's to be expected. Not all programming languages have the concept of a "class".

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

Jherico (39763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318453)

That's my point. 15 years of experience doesn't mean shit if it doesn't mean you have the skills we need.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318557)

I've been developing software for longer than that, the majority of which has been Perl code in recent years. I've written a heck of a lot of modules, but haven't had the need to use C++, Java, etc in a long time. Without bragging too much, I've got a nice track record of coming up with elegant solutions to complex problems on a wide variety of platforms (mostly UNIX-based, with the odd Windows server thrown in here and there). I have a pretty deep understanding of commonly implemented algorithms for a diverse range of problem sets, and I am well paid for the work I do.

Explain to me why I need to write a class.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

namoom (926916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318269)

I'm afraid i have met multiple people who have been in the business for 15+ years who got by using job hopping and friend hires. no offense, but your pool of peers really are bringing you down

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

debile (812761) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318299)

2 Weeks ago, I had to hire someone... at least 30% were lying.

Strong SQL skills and can't do a select query or join tables... they probably spent the last 10 years reading Slashdot at their workplace

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (2, Funny)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318397)

Funny, I applied for this job two weeks ago. It was a bit of a stretch, but I thought I could make it up by asking any real stumpers here on slashdot. Unfortunately, the test was a real mindbender. They wanted me to join two separate queries. Who does that?

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318495)

I mean, what syntax would you use to join queries like that!
preposterous~

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318309)

Gotta say I agree. Some tests I took used outdated methods/functions or approaches and when I answered using more up to date versions of the language or taking into consideration corrections or work-arounds that only a seasoned pro would know, it was considered wrong. The best way to have someone 'tested' is the have them solve a problem in front of another developer; have them step through it, explain themselves, answers questions, etc. A test does not answer what I need to know about that person nor does it explain what I want you to know about me.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318641)

That's a bad test, and if the interviewer is your possible boss, then it shows that maybe this isn't the company you want to work for if he's so out-of-touch.

The good tests I've seen (and made up myself when I had to do some interviewing) are short and simple, and serve mainly to see if someone is lying about their experience. My own example: for a job requiring C++, explain briefly what a "class" is. I've had people with "expert-level knowledge of C++" not be able to answer that one. Or, show some small code samples with errors and have them point out why they won't work.

The one time I had to take some intensive tests (on Brainbench.com) for a job interview, they liked my results and then gave me a low-ball offer. So you do need to be careful of companies wasting your time like that.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

Dr_Harm (529148) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318331)

I can understand this feeling, but look at it from the other side: As an interviewer, I *need* to know if you're telling me the truth or not. Just the act of hiring you to fire you a week later consumes significant resources; I can't really afford to make a mistake.

Also, I've had people fail the test. And it was a really really simple test. I once asked someone to "write a C function that takes an integer as a parameter and returns the square of that integer". After 15 minutes of fumbling at the whiteboard, they had something that looked like a cross between Matlab and Pascal and completely failed to be anything close to correct, even if you ignored the syntax problems. That candidate claimed to have 20+ years of experience.

Generally, my interviews consist of 3 parts.

  1. First, I ask you some questions about items on your resume. "What was XYZ project like?" "Did you like working with that CPU?" "How was the weather in FOO?" Here, I just want to get a feel for who you are, will you fit our culture, and a quick verification that you at least read the resume you handed to me.
  2. Next, I ask you to solve some simple problems. Square an integer. Why is "#define foo(x) x*x" worse than "#define foo(x) (x)*(x)"? Sort an array. I won't give too many away here, but generally anyone who has actually worked in the field can get these correct. Again, this is just a screening tool.
  3. Finally, we get to the open-ended portion. I hand you a whiteboard marker, and ask you a question which may (or may not) be impossible to solve. Brainteasers, some. Logic puzzles. I want to see you take a problem, take it apart, and put it back together. I warn the candidate (and it's true) that I don't care if they actually get a solution or not; most people don't. This is what really makes or breaks a hire.

Of course, if they can't pass the first two sections of the test, I don't bother with the third.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318403)

I had to re-read your post several times before I figured out what it is you meant to say. I don't normally go around pointing out spelling and grammar flaws. But if you want to be taken seriously, do make the effort to re-read your post and make sure another reader will be able to decode it.

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318493)

Plus after 15 years I find it a tad insulting.

More insulting than seeing the job go to a younger, less experienced, less capable candidate?

In five years or ten will you even make it to the interview?

Re:I don't take test as a matter of priniciple (1)

HalWasRight (857007) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318583)

As a matter of principle, you'll never work for me. If you are too prissy to do the dance when interviewing, then what are you too gonna be to prissy to do when I'm paying you?

You'd be sHoCkEd at how many people who supposedly have made a living writing C code cannot write a simple program from scratch in a couple of hours. These are people who I would have hired if I only looked at their resume, talking to references, and interview. Then they sit down AND CAN'T WRITE A SIMPLE PROGRAM FROM SCRATCH?

The filter works in my experience. If the job is writing code, then show me you can write some code. If you have 15 years experience then you shouldn't break a sweat doing it.

Reminds of a story (5, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318119)

The business owner was looking for a new receptionist, and couldn't decide which of they applicants to hire, so he decided to do a test. He accidentally "dropped" a $100 bill in front of each of them. The first just handed the money back to him. The second took the money, then came back later saying "I invested that $100 you dropped in oil futures. Here's your $100, plus $50 profit." The last slyly pocketed the money and didn't say anything about it.

Which one did he hire?
The one with the biggest tits, of course!

well (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318129)

My guess is some of them are worried about being caught in a lie, some of them are having their pride hurt (not sure why), and some of them just don't have the time to waste on taking a test for a job they might not even get.

Hey! (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318185)

Small dev shop interviwing internationally due to CEO mandate ... yeah, how do we know the submitter isn't lying? We need to test the submitters.

Re:Hey! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318357)

We need to test the submitters.

      I agree. I especially didn't like the part on the test about "how would you write code to solve for problem X", and then the form I had to sign that said "all answers on this test become property of Small Dev Shop Inc and you are waiving all copyright and patent claims for such code"...

Global search? (2, Interesting)

mollog (841386) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318187)

Jeepers, this chaps my ass. Is it really so hard to find good help locally? Foreign workers are seldom the bargain that they seem to be.

Companies claim that they can't find good help domestically, but what they're really saying is that they don't want to pay for home-grown talent.

Sorry for the rant.

Re:Global search? (1, Flamebait)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318347)

this chap's my ass.

That's better...

Re:Global search? (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318665)

Try again.

To mollog's point, I agree with him, and I actually work globally (freelance translator for various agencies).

My experience has been that the less accessible an agency is, or another freelancer I've subcontracted, for that matter, the shoddier the work. My best agencies are ones where I can actually go into their office if I need to and speak face-to-face with someone.

In other words, local. It's not that hard to find local talent, really. Unfortunately, many companies still use the non-local labor as a cost-cutting excuse.

You are a what? (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318213)

I am a manger of a small Software Development department

Good luck with eating the department.

Re:You are a what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318611)

You mean, good luck being eaten out of by the department. Last I checked, feed troughs didn't eat the cattle... unless ranching has been completely revolutionised recently...

Unless the OP is female, in which case this takes an entirely different and decidedly disturbing turn...

Re:You are a what? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318669)

Actually, if he's a manger, isn't he rather likely to be eaten out of by livestock?
Or perhaps have a ceramic baby Jesus put in him at Christmas-time.
Either option doesn't sound enjoyable to me.

Language (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318225)

If you want to test just capacity for solving problems, don't make it depend on fine language understanding, some good foreign developers could be fluent in english technical written language and dont do so well on full language, or spoken one. Test as possible what you really want to know, not putting limitations on things that could or could not matter in the job.

Just had this happen recently... (1)

gtt (9902) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318265)

I did the test they sent. Then they wanted to have two developers sit there and watch me. I just didn't feel comfortable with that--it creeped me out. I declined for that reason more than any other.

No, I wouldn't be willing (5, Insightful)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318267)

No, I wouldn't be willing to take a test, and I actually flat walked out on an interview in 2003 when I showed up and was told - by surprised - that I was going to be taking an exam. I was also then informed that the open position was for a junior position. When I expressed surprise at this, the HR flack's response was "Oh, didn't I mention that in my email?" She hadn't. Either of those would be sufficient for me to end the interview process, which I did.

Why would I refuse to take a test? Simple: if you're giving me a test, the usual reason is that I'm being interviewed by someone who does not possess the ability to discern whether I know what I'm doing/talking about or not. If that person is the hiring manager, then I certainly don't want to work there. Working for people who cannot identify competence or incompetence is not pleasant. If that person is not the hiring manager, I still don't want to work there: it shows they would waste my time by having me interview with such a person rather than with the hiring manager or any other person who can tell if I'm competent or not.

Re:No, I wouldn't be willing (3, Funny)

mevets (322601) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318627)

Was it at a systems company? I worked at one where the HR flak would ask stupid technical questions if s?he couldn't follow the conversation. Something to do with adding value or some such nonsense. Her favourite was "what is the difference between a union and a structure?". I was always hoping somebody would give a dissertation on the effects of organized labour vs bureaucratic incompetence on innovative organizations.

Stay put on factual tests and questions (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318271)

In our company, we work with offshore programmers.

Our selection process includes a mandatory test, during which we assess the candidate on several points, mostly: IT Skills, ability to understand requirements, motivation. In order to avoid cultural issues, we tend to focus on facts and we try to avoid questions which may lead to a culturally biased answer. For instance, we would ask: "please explain me how you will implement such feature" instead of "did you understand what I mean".

The test is a simple project, and the candidate can work on it at his/her own pace. They are followed by a project manager as in a real work environment. Its duration is normally one week as candidates usually have a day job. We renumerate the candidates for the test they take with us.

The recruitment process has been found to be effective in most cases, allowing to effectively select quality programmers. We found that there are enough programmers ready to go through our selection process for us not to worry about the one refusing to take a test.

Good (0, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318337)

You have a dumb CEO.
Weed out the morans, the liars, and the people who think their "degree" from UnheardOfCollege in UnheardOfMajor along with a list of every popular language will be trusted.

99% of the time it's a code monkey from India who desires to simply get a job for Visa status, wiggle into a role of writing/supporting web applications in 1, 2 languages tops, and then do a mediocre job of it due to lack of actual knowledge and prior experience.

Yes, you will filter out good people (1, Insightful)

ansciath (1631475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318343)

Any filter will weed out some percentage of good people. The question is really in the caveat, whether you are doing so unnecessarily. That depends on the resources available to your search and the position you are trying to fill, among other factors. Personally, I don't mind taking the odd test, though I find it a bit grade-schoolish when potential employers call it a test. I've always called such "technical evaluations" when interviewing candidates (six of one, I know), and made sure that (1) the questions were interesting to the candidate, and (2) that the candidate clearly understood the questions were intended to elicit insight into their thinking rather than grade spot performance. The former of those reflects another aspect of a search, one that I feel is more important than test/don't-test, and that is Accurate Position Description. Almost every job posting I read asks for qualifications that, if satisfied, would put the rest of the workforce to shame. Focus on what technical aspects the position should fulfill, rather than listing ridiculous qualifications and proficiency in a cadre of technologies in the hopes of hiring the "perfect" person. (I once read an advertisement for a position that required 20 years of professional Java development experience. Think about it.) There is rarely a perfect person. Decide what the focus of the position is, advertise for that, and ask interesting questions within the focus in order to evaluate capability. My two cents.

Testing as interviews (0)

Jaeger (2722) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318363)

If I were applying for jobs, I'd be dubious about one that required an explicit "test" as part of the interview process, since it's hard to know what you mean by "test". Are you going to test my typing speed, or whether I know obscure language trivia (quick: Where was Bjarne Stroustrup working when he invented C++? How do you pronounce "Bjarne Stroustrup"? What does "restrict" mean in C?), or whether it's really a standard interview in disguise.

A normal technical interview process really should be a "test", for all intents and purposes. It's fairly easy to put a candidate in front of a whiteboard and figure out whether the candidate can write a function in your language of choice. (At least, it's easier to test coding ability than many other professional jobs.)

Culture IS difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318373)

I work alongside a culture who literally wash their a** in the same sink (skid marks and all) in which I brush my teeth. Do I need to change their culture to make a good worker?

Also, "What Colo(u)r is your Parachute?" has, for decades, stated that 97% of ALL job applicants lie on their CV/resumee. I will only work for a company whose HR sifts through the chaff to find my 3% CV/resumee, before taking a quantitative test (usually full of human errors). The company has to be right for me, too.

Seems I'm different here, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318385)

When I'm interviewed, I solve the tests without even blinking. If the offer afterwards suits me, it's fine. If not, well... I never bother to consider'em again. Simple as that.

When I'm interviewing, I sometimes ask the applicant to solve small puzzle(s). Such as: "say that 0080 is a number in octal, could you please rephrase it in decimal?" (hands up who got the joke :) .

How does it correlate with existing measures? (0)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318401)

Presumably you know enough about your test to know how well it correlates with normal domestic resumes, yes? -- in which case, just skip the test for domestic applicants.

Or if you don't know how well your test correlates with the more common measures -- then yes, as a prospective employee, I wouldn't trust your test.

Re:How does it correlate with existing measures? (1)

omz13 (882548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318567)

just skip the test for domestic applicants.

That's just plain discrimination... and also shows your complete ignorance that domestic applicants can be just as stupid, evil, liars, as non-domestic applicants. On a more serious note, why does the CEO want to hire globally... perhaps he's realized that getting in people from different cultures might actually add something new... I've worked in multicultural environments and they're far more interesting than working with a room full of my countrymen.

I've been doing tests for 5 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318405)

The reality is that of 100 people who apply, only 50 know how to successfully reverse a string.

Only 30 know how to use recursion to solve that problem.

Only 10 know how write recursive programs traversing binary trees.

Only 5 know how to use polymorphic methods in Java to solve little toy graphical problems.

Only 3 know how to create classes that can be used inside HashMaps.

Only one knows how to create proper unit tests.

Job interview, the Steve Jobs way... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318431)

"Are you a virgin?"

Re:Job interview, the Steve Jobs way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318573)

regardless if you think his products are good the bottom line is that steve jobs is an arrogant jerkoff. stop being a fanboi

You need to validate people (1)

drew_eckhardt (30709) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318471)

Most "software engineers" can't solve simple problems in a reasonable time frame, don't check corner cases, and failed to retain computer science
basics from school.

        Mediocre ones fail to solve problems until some one steps in and does most of their job for them. Average ones are an order of magnitude less productive in terms of lines of code (which is a bad metric) than exceptional ones. Exceptional ones produce more maintainable solutions, make more efficient software, have lower defect rates, defects more likely to be caught by internal diagnostics, and shorter mean times to repair their bugs.

        Unfortunately, those things don't show up on resumes so you need to test.

        Many technical people fill their resumes with buzz-words but don't actually know what's on there. You need to validate that too.

        I ask all interview candidates a few simple coding problems regardless of years of experience. I ask simple data structure questions. I ask for technical details surrounding things they've done. People with surprisingly good back grounds (high GPA at a good school for newer graduates; lots of projects) fail.

        One was too offended to continue talking to us; although I'd rather find out that some one is too good and experienced to follow process (bug reporting, coding standards, design cycle) before joining the company.

        I worry when I interview at companies which don't check.

Yay for tests! (3, Insightful)

Kirby (19886) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318475)

I've worked several places that had some sort of practical skills test for programmers.

I consider them a strong success.

There's a surprising number of people that can talk a really good game, but fall apart when asked the most basic actual questions. And, conversely, people who aren't extroverts or for whatever reason aren't stars in the verbal part of the interview, but clearly know their stuff when given a written test. It's a really good way to fairly judge technical skills across candidates, and weed out the fakers before you have to fire them later.

And as an employee, I like working with smart, competent people. I know how much, from experience, a bad hire wastes my time and ruins morale, so I'm happy to work for places that put out effort one way or another to not enter into this trap.

Anyone who'd refuse on principal, I'd worry is either a) faking it, or b) too arrogant to work well with others. A good candidate is happy to prove that they're a good candidate, and won't have to work with idiots.

A test isn't the _only_ way to do this. Any sort of nice, concrete technical grilling will do. But for a programmer, it _must_ involve actually writing code of a non-trivial nature. You can't believe resumes - even if people aren't lying, a Senior Programmer at one shop may only be barely competent at another, and not even realize that the bar is set differently.

Of course, the quality of a test can vary just like the quality of an interview question, but the goal is good for the company _and_ the employees, and in my experience it works better than most techniques.

Now, if your shop isn't terribly compelling based on product, and you're desperate to not turn people away... well, you probably should be looking for places that feel like they need a test to screen out unqualified candidates, so you can stop hating your job, and not worry about fixing this particular problem. :)

You have to lie to get the job interview (1, Insightful)

vxvxvxvx (745287) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318505)

When so many of the job postings today want you to have PhD in their field as well as 10 years experience using programs that have only existed for 5 years you have to lie. The honest non-lying people simply don't apply. And if you're willing to lie on one thing, you're willing to lie on another. I'm confident that if you auditted all the resumes and then verified the claims the majority would contain lies. The first step to fix this is to post realistic job requirements.

A lot of people do lie about their qualifications. (2, Interesting)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318507)

Knowing this, having interviewed a lot of people and having known a lot of interviewees, I wouldn't be insulted to take a test. However, its also true that a lot of the gimmicky kinds of questions that are asked on tests don't show very much about a candidate's depth. Certainly a test shouldn't be a primary criteria.

Done one for every job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318513)

It's been standard procedure at both of the companies I've worked for to give some sort of "test"

My first job out of college asked for a simple algorithm, it was a sort or search, can't remember which. There's an hour given and you have full access to the web, so even not knowing the language I was still able to accomplish the task. Apparently many fairly senior people couldn't perform such a simple task in the time given, while I was able to weigh multiple algorithms. This surprised me.

My current job (I've only been out of school for 2 years) also had a technical interview but it was less test-like. They had me sit at a laptop with the screen projected on a wall and asked me to design some fairly simple classes. They wanted a dialog so they could see if you were thinking ahead. They also asked some questions such as which scenario would you use this algorithm in and asked me to think through a logic problem.

Both of these companies were filled with some of the brightest people I've met in my life who were enthusiastic about their jobs and were high performers. I did an internship where there were only meet and greet interviews and no problem solving, and the people who were hired were barely competent at their jobs. I feel like if you are interested in a job creating software, you need to enjoy programming, so a technical interview shouldn't be difficult or offputting. If you're relying on your personality and charm to get you in the door and then hoping to slack off, you'll be deterred by a challenging interview.

I hope that helps. I know I'm pretty fresh in the industry, but I've heard too many stories about incompetent senior software engineers.

"Extreme Interviewing" (1)

RTigger (1631487) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318535)

I read about this a few months ago, but a few companies have implemented the idea of "Extreme Interviewing" [positivesharing.com] , modeled after eXtreme Programming. The general idea is that you pair applicants with existing staff members and have them work together through a series of exercises. Your existing staff is told to identify candidates based "on their ability to think critically, ask good questions and finally on their ability to make their partner look good." The exercises are modeled after activities that would normally be performed in the workplace and position they're applying for. There's usually 3 or so exercises, where the applicants are mixed up between different staff members.

Using this approach you can easily identify candidates who are willing to help other team members as opposed to making themselves look good, and those who are willing and able to draw on knowledge from their teammates. Some places will select candidates for a 2nd interview with the same layout, but involving actual projects and tasks for the company they're applying to. Best of all, no one feels like they're taking a test, your staff get involved in the hiring process and help ensure your company culture stays intact, and you get to measure performance metrics that actually matter as opposed to how well someone can regurgitate definitions and method signatures.

Of course, this might not work as well from a remote location, but if your company does regularly telecommute between development locations (mine does) you could adapt the process to include that.

If they don't take the test, forget them (3, Interesting)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318547)

If someone doesn't interview (or worse, complete an interview) because of a test I don't care how smart they are. They're too much of a prima donna. I've been in situations where an interview had tests that were way beneath my skill level, and in those cases I've either known immediately that the job I was interviewing for wasn't for me, asked the interviewer if there were more high level jobs available, or helped them fix their test. (In one case the test had questions that helped answer previous questions, so I helped them fix it.) In all cases I impressed the interviewer enough to get the job.

"Experience" and "time" mean nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318577)

Anyone worth their salt would take the test. I've known too many programmers that have been around for 10+ years that can't code for shit. Most of the people that say they have been programming for "15 years", mean that they started when they were 15 and are now 30, but have been only been doing it professionally for 8. Age and "experience" don't mean anything in this field. Just because you've been around doesn't mean you know what you are doing. I've been on interviews in the past where there was a simple test, such as a SQL query, class inheritance, etc and had no problem showing them I knew what I was talking about. As a former person that also did the interviewing, I've seen many people that claimed things on their resume, but when asked to prove it, they couldn't. The majority of companies out there incorporate some sort of test to weed out the out right liars from the people that may have embellished a little. If a person has a problem with taking a test during the interview, they are not worth your time and can look for a job elsewhere.

Your firm is one I'd never work for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318589)

I've been given a bunch of tests. In some cases the questions were,

"How would you optimize this code?"
My thought was, "Why did you write such shitty inefficient code in the first place?".

Another "How do you reverse a linked list?"
My response, "LinkedList.Reverse()". My thoughts "Why would you reinvent the wheel?"

After 10 years of doing this stuff professionally and 20 in total, I find it quite insulting that someone would make me take a test. Anyone who would lie about what their skills are needs their head examined anyway. Any smart person can learn new technologies rather quickly anyway. I learned C#, SQL, and ASP in about a week each. Furthermore, you can find out if they're good or not by talking to them for about 30 minutes. An industry that is over 50 years old, and some people just don't get it and never will.

I don't take tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29318643)

I'll explain and answer almost any question you ask, but I will not take a programming or psychological test for a job.

The only questions I won't answer are extremely personal and where I'm under contract not to reveal details.

Programming tests don't allow me to use my normal setup - which actually has reference material available.

Really good people are hired by reputation quicly and never out of work any longer than they want to be. They don't take tests.

Test the right things, consider legal issues (2, Interesting)

bcwright (871193) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318653)

Testing isn't necessarily a bad idea, but it can create problems as well as solve them. In most software development environments, any testing should usually be used to weed out unsuitable candidates rather than to produce a single number that will be used as the primary hiring guide. Other things like interpersonal dynamics can also be important, for example. Multiple-choice tests are probably the least useful, because they test specific bits of knowledge rather than broader concepts; that may be useful in a classroom where you're testing the student's knowledge of a specific curriculum, but most real-world software development positions (other than perhaps the very most entry-level jobs) are more about design and problem solving and not so much about things like the details of a specific computer language. Essay tests of whatever sort would usually be the most useful, but also the hardest to design and grade.

Even worse, if you aren't careful, in many places and depending on whether you are a public or a private entity, you can potentially open yourself up to things like discrimination lawsuits if you don't end up hiring whatever person received the highest score on the test even if they don't fit some of your other criteria very well.

I would certainly not want to give a test that wasn't in person - there are far too many ways to get scammed: For example I've had someone ask if I could "help them out" with an online employment test - not just asking me for one or two bits of information, but essentially asking me to take the whole test for them! If you are doing a "worldwide" search, that creates problems for a small software group - the cost of flying a number of candidates to your location can be astronomical.

FWIW.

+1 vote for the test (1)

snuki (949838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29318671)

I got my job (in avionics software) partly because of my score on the test my boss gives. Now I correct them for him, and it's hilarious, because there are a lot of people out there who can talk big but are good for nothing.
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