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Why the New Guy Can't Code

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the hired-for-his-doughnut-fetching-skills dept.

Programming 948

theodp writes "'We've all lived the nightmare,' writes Jon Evans. 'A new developer shows up at work, and you try to be welcoming, but he can't seem to get up to speed; the questions he asks reveal basic ignorance; and his work, when it finally emerges, is so kludgey that it ultimately must be rewritten from scratch by more competent people.' Evans takes a stab at explaining why the new guy can't code when his interviewers and HR swear that they only hire above-average/A-level/top-1% people. Evans fingers the technical interview as the culprit, saying the skills required to pass today's industry-standard software interview are not those required to be a good software developer. Instead, Evans suggests: 'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished anything. Ever. Certificates and degrees are not accomplishments; I mean real-world projects with real-world users. There is no excuse for software developers who don't have a site, app, or service they can point to and say, 'I did this, all by myself!' in a world where Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services have free service tiers, and it costs all of $25 to register as an Android developer and publish an app on the Android Market."

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Experienced only? (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061838)

This reminds me of the old expression "I can't get the job because I don't have any experience, but how can I get experience if they don't give me a job?"

Yes, on your own, but it is still saying "don't hire someone directly out of school" without considering that there are some advantages to this, such as being able to integrate someone into your system, before they have had the chance to develop "bad habits".

Re:Experienced only? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061872)

You should already have a portfolio of applications you've made after you left school.
Applications you've made because of a school project will not count.

Re:Experienced only? (5, Interesting)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061968)

I think the problem is that a lot of people, no matter how skilled and dedicated, may not have had any summer jobs or internships (at least around here those are very hard to come by) that led to them taking part in the creation of "real" applications as well as not really have any "finished" applications to show off (as in, they may have dozens or hundreds of little apps but you rarely want to show an interviewer that 900 line perl script you wrote that has half a dozen required and undocumented parameters and does something extremely specific to your home computing environment.

I was actually in that sort of position after college, I ended up working tech support for over a year because I couldn't find a "real job", the reasons for why I either didn't get an interview or why they didn't find me interesting post-interview were split between no reason given, "You're not quite what we're looking for" and "Please try again when you have at least three years of experience, the ad might've said 'entry-level' but we really meant we were looking for someone with a few years of experience...".

Re:Experienced only? (2)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061974)

I have to agree.. If you went through years of school and never wrote anything by yourself for people other than yourself are you really going to enjoy developing software anyway?

Re:Experienced only? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062024)

I did write lot of stuff for my enjoyment. still, the assembly bump mapping demo doesn't really seems to me a good thing ti show off. also, it doesn't run on windows. or linux, for that matter.

Re:Experienced only? (1, Offtopic)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062258)

I did write lot of stuff for my enjoyment. still, the assembly bump mapping demo doesn't really seems to me a good thing ti show off. also, it doesn't run on windows. or linux, for that matter.

Considering how often parentheses, curly brackets and angled brackets are used in code, it must be even harder when your shift key doesn't work most of the time.

Re:Experienced only? (5, Insightful)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062278)

i do enjoy coding a lot, as in i cant think of anything i'd rather do for a living. But in my free time, i can think of thousands of things i'd rather spend my time on, so i hardly have any hobby-projects, certainly nothing that i would use to show off at a job interview.

Making your hobby into your job is a sure-fire way to lose it as a hobby by the way, all the managerial crap that comes with a work environment is not something you want to asociate with your hobby

Re:Experienced only? (3, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062068)

Applications you've made because of a school project will not count.

That's stupid. As an EE, a buddy of mine and I made a spiffy wireless sensor system which we presented at a conference. We did the project all on our own without any direction from any professors and received a $5000 grant from an independent organization interested in publishing our work. And we did it all for 6 credits worth of independent undergraduate research classes, too. Just because you get college credit for a project doesn't mean it isn't a real project.

Re:Experienced only? (2)

atlasdropperofworlds (888683) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062240)

I don't think that is anywhere near fair. Some kids tackle their projects with zeal, going well above and beyond what was expected and required. I've hired and continue to hire such students when they graduate, and they are *always* very successful.

Re:Experienced only? (1)

Nick Fel (1320709) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061898)

As the summary says: developing websites and apps is basically free. Anyone who's serious about being a software developer is bound to have made something for fun.

Hosting costs (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062266)

developing websites and apps is basically free.

For a web site, you need a domain and hosting. Firesheep has made HTTP obsolete for any site that takes contributions from its users, so now you need an SSL certificate. Internet Explorer on Windows XP doesn't support SNI, without which name-based virtual hosting for SSL sites is impossible, so you need an IPv4 address. Those aren't exactly free, especially now that IPv4 addresses have officially run out.

As for an application, not all kinds of applications run on Android, and there isn't a single market that serves both AT&T phones and Archos tablets.

Re:Experienced only? (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061920)

Experience can be gained on non-job tasks. Quite a lot of the people who contribute to open source projects that I organise are in university. When they graduate, there's a body of code that they can point to and say 'I worked on this'. There are also public commit logs so that people can look at them and see exactly what they did, and sites like Ohloh.net that let people quickly see their total contribution. If anything, this is better for a recruiter than experience on the job, because most employers won't allow you to show code that you wrote for them to your next potential employer...

Re:Experienced only? (4, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061954)

I was doing programming projects for years before I ever took any sort of computer class. If a potential programmer can't show any work they've done outside of the classroom, they're almost certainly not ready to code for a living.

If an interviewee really can't show any work, perhaps a good idea would be to give them a few simple Google Code Jam problems [google.com] and have them pick one to solve. Just watching them write down some pseudocode would show whether they have the ability to think for themselves, and if they can actually write a working solution in a common programming language, or better yet, the language they'll be using on the job, then of course they can program!

Re:Experienced only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062202)

I can speak to this. I got a degree in computer science but never really worked on anything substantial. Took me quite a while to get a somewhat decent level of production. Even got fired from a couple jobs. Thankfully I got better and am able to work on projects and contribute to sites with millions of visitors. I was not up to speed when I got out of college. I almost wish I would have spent my time getting a simple 2 year degree and working on my own stuff instead of going to 5 years of school. I guess I just didn't have the necessary self motivation.

Re:Experienced only? (2, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061984)

By the time I got my degree, I had a variety of projects I did for school and for fun that I could show off. Bayesian. If people don't have a portfolio, they're lazy. Either because they can't be bothered to put together a portfolio, or because they haven't done anything at school except sit like a bump on a log. (Never understood that phrase...)

Any student can work on:
1) Open source projects
2) Mods for games
3) Websites for whatever interest
4) Useful utilities to make their own coding projects faster. I wrote a patch for VIM that did code folding the way I wanted it done, for example
5) Small programs for their own hobbies (I wrote an Axis & Allies combat odds calculator once while, uh, drunk as an undergraduate) ...or as TFA suggests, a mobile app.

There's plenty of places where people of even the smallest curiosity will be able to find something to do that they can point at on a job interview.

Re:Experienced only? (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062160)

I really don't like any of these replies, but I'm choosing this one to reply to.

I'm an Electronic Engineer, with a curiosity in programming. I've done a C module (where I self-taught because we weren't actually taught anything), a C++ module the following year, same thing, an Architecture module, where I did Assembly, and my final year project is PHP/MySQL/HTML/AJAX (Completely self taught).

It seems most recruiting jobs around at the moment want CompSci students for everything, who have a larger software background without considering others.

I've decided by the standards of "what the job market wants" for graduates, by graduate standards I am not even remotely a "programmer". I will happily admit my skills have flaws, being self-taught some things just don't click as easily, or possibly, accurately. Basically, opening me up to self-set bad habits or ignorances of functionality. There's this whole "bring your pet projects" thing, which people like me have no time for. I have spent my final year day to day Busy doing work for the degree. I don't have time for working on some random OSS project to be completely honest.

So I get a degree, yet if I want to go into software, I need to re-educate myself, apparently, and make a few arbitrary or contribute to some group project that would take a while to understand before being able to have something added to say I've helped. So, on what money do I do this? If I was going for, say a grad-job where I was going to do Java, guess what, I'd expect to be able to learn it on the job.

No, here's what you get out of me: I know enough to get-by with a few languages, I know how to learn other languages. I am a quick learner, in general and I am intelligent. I do not know everything. Take it or leave it.

Fool. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062264)

I'm an Electronic Engineer, ....if I want to go into software ...

You're an engineer who is thinking of going into programming?!

You may be smart, but you sir, are a damn fool!

If you really want to be in software, stick with embedded or any of the low level nuts and bolts programming.

Web, mobile and every other application development is a capricious market and a commodity expertise.

You can do the programming, but programmers/CS people can't do the engineering. And once you become a "software guy" there's no going back.

Re:Experienced only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062286)

Ah, you're one of the self-trained "programmers" who'll make huge messes that I'll be paid big bucks to clean up. I wish you the best of luck. The more you screw up, the more money I make.

code sample (3, Insightful)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062032)

Isn't this old hat? Doesn't everyone ask for a code sample?

I feel however that 'I did this, all by myself!' isn't the best metric.

I'd rather hire the kid who's code sample consists of fixing 5 memory leaks in 5 different open source libraries. He'll write solid code.

I'd rather not hire as a "coder" the kid who's website took him 40 hours in photoshop, several hours configuring Drupal, and another several hours writing a Drupal extension that should've taken him 20 min. He might be more artist than programmer.

In fact, that's a pretty good interview tactic : Ask them in advance to find & fix a memory leak in some open source C library so they can explain it at the interview. Hint : Find a crap library with many leaks.

"Experience" is too subjective. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062064)

"Experience" is far too subjective of a measure of a developer's talent.

Let me give you an example that I ran into about a year ago when hiring for a Java web development position. We had one candidate who was an "experienced Ruby on Rails developer", but didn't know Java. He had several years experience developing web sites with Rails, and he said he was willing to learn, so we gave him a chance.

During a technical interview, he offered to show us a Rails web site he'd created earlier. There were three of us interviewing him, so we all loaded up his site in our browsers on our laptops at the same time, and soon enough it started crashing. Instead of wanted to fix it, or at least being embarrassed, he tried to justify why it was okay that his web site was crashing under very minimal load. He blamed Ruby, he blamed Rails, he blamed Linux, he blamed MySQL, he blamed his hosting provider, and he even blamed us for "stressing it too much". He didn't once consider that maybe the problem was due to something he'd done. He was sure that it wasn't his fault.

At that point we knew that he wasn't a suitable candidate for the position. Although he had the experience, his attitude and abilities weren't up to par. Normally, we thank the person at this point, and we go our separate ways. Unbelievably, in this case, this fellow started crying when we told him that we didn't think it'd work out. He was wailing stuff like, "No! It's not my fault! The application is perfect! It's Ruby on Rails! It's Ruby on Rails!"

It was truly absurd. Since then, we rarely consider people who have used Ruby on Rails in the past. They may claim to be "experienced", but it's not experience in any traditional sense, and has no value to those of us doing real work.

Re:Experienced only? (5, Insightful)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062084)

We hire inexperiences developers regularly. They're called JUNIOR DEVELOPERS and they require extra time. That's why they make less money than a medior or senior developer.

If not experience, then what? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062292)

What metric do you use to determine which candidates will make good junior developers?

Re:Experienced only? (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062096)

The thing is, most employers already follow this rule. As someone who's career started in 2004, the first 3 years of it were extremely difficult because almost everybody in the industry needed 3 years of full-time development experience on the resume before they'd even talk to me. And of course, these same employers have the audacity to say "We can't find any good young developers!" as if making it difficult-to-impossible for anyone to join the industry (oh, and if they're large enough for age discrimination laws to apply, acting on that sentiment is illegal) would have no effect. I've gotten over that hump, but that was by taking any job that came my way, being willing to work 70 hours a week for about $7 an hour, and I'm sure having recruiters lie a bit to get my foot in the door.

And the reason for all this isn't hard to figure out: This "don't hire anyone without experience" is a pretty smart rule if one employer does it, but a really really dumb rule if every employer does it. In addition, because it takes 3 years for the negative effects of this to really sink in, the system looks great for a while. Basically, everyone wants the experienced demonstrably-capable programmers, but wants the responsibility of giving them basic practical experience to fall on somebody else. To do otherwise would require the vision and the funding to think about a picture bigger than "my company this fiscal year".

Re:Experienced only? (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062210)

This is pretty much how I feel, wanting to get into the system as is. Right now I'm completely put off wanting to go near it due to the experience boundaries set up by every advert I've seen.

Re:Experienced only? (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062198)

Nobody wants to train anybody any more. They want to be able to hire and fire at will and they know that they are not capable of fostering loyalty when they feel no responsibility to their employees. There's no point in spending money to train someone who is just going to go somewhere else, and that's what they will do.

Re:Experienced only? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062216)

Yeah, there's nothing wrong with hiring someone straight out of school, just so long as you understand they're likely to be completely inexperienced and in need of training. If you're hiring someone completely inexperienced based on certificates and degrees and then expecting them to "get up to speed" quickly, then the problem is you: your expectations are ridiculous.

Don't try to save money by hiring inexperienced people and then complain that they're inexperienced. It can often be good to have people of varying levels of experience working on a project-- the company gets cheap labor that can take care of some grunt work, the new guy gets experience, the project gets a fresh perspective, and the senior employees get the experience of training someone new. The problem is that you need a good manager who can assign appropriate roles and set realistic expectations.

'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished' (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061842)

Well that is a good way to kill off the next generation and deplete the job pool ( and destroy the industry eventually )

If you ONLY talk to 'accomplished' candidates and never give the new guy a chance to come in and learn, at some point no one will have any expiration. ALL of us was the 'new guy' at one point in our life, even you..

Re:'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished (1)

Flyerman (1728812) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061864)

The idea is that someone should have some sort of working code to present instead of having a certificate or degree.

It makes sense to me.

Re:'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished (1)

Zonnald (182951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061890)

Another good way to kill off the next generation is to get rid of all the experience 35+ yo. Remove all the mentors. Except for the indispensible techies who can't communicate well enough to mentor.

Re:'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062276)

Software is one of those industries which is moving so fast that being anchored in the past is a huge disadvantage. If you're young and have a "mentor" who is over 35 I think you're going to hear a lot of prejudice against the good new ideas, and that they will want you to learn what that they can continue to mentor you in, not what's most relevant or useful.

When it comes to software the only thing you can really trust is your own hard won experience. It'll probably me also resist change when I'm older, but if I don't follow it now I'll just miss out and delay progress.

Re:'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished (1)

gabebear (251933) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061934)

You should be able to point to some project you have completed; I don't think he was talking about 5-6 years of experience. If you haven't actually finished anything of consequence, then you are going to have a large ramp up to actually producing something. In software you can do a small scale project on your own or with a few friends and get it out for next to nothing.


I think coming into a job with at least a little experience is pretty critical. You don't have nearly as long of a ramp-up period, which makes your co-workers and employer happier, and you don't get cast as the "stupid new guy", a role which you may never be able to shake.

Re:'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062108)

The impression i got was that he wanted you to be established and a proven track record first. Not just that you have done 'something cool'...

When i went to college you did have to do small scale projects on your own, and in groups, ( various disciplines, since I'm an EE and not a CS major ) and i get the feeling that none of that would matter to this guy. He wants you to be out in the field for years and have a bunch of stuff in your portfolio that you can hold up and shout 'this is mine'. Of course, if you happen to work where your projects are proprietary or classified, then you cant show him anything anyway and its back to blind faith that you have skills...

Re:'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061980)

I think his whole point is that the barrier to entry is now so low that college and even high-school kids can easily have a number of high-quality apps out by the time they're ready to get a job.

This is a good way of filtering out people who're book smart but not really motivated or enthusiastic about it.

Re:'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062062)

The barrier to entry hasn't been particularly high for a long time. In the '80s, most computers came with developer tools. If you were interested in programming, you probably wrote a few little games or utilities, and you may have released some as shareware. You might even have kept the cheque from the one person who ever registered it...

Re:'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061992)

Didn't even read to the end of the summary, huh?

If you apply for a job as a graphics designer, then you are expected to bring along a portfolio of your work. For people just starting out, this probably won't include [m]any commercial pieces, but it will include sketches and other things that you've done in your own time. The same is true in most creative professions, and absolutely should be in software development. This isn't a new idea, by the way, this was one of the suggestions for recruiting in PeopleWare, back in the '70s.

If you want to get a job programming, but have never written any software that you've published, then you are probably not worth hiring. There are other people who have written a shareware game, contributed to an open source project, published a mobile phone application, or whatever. The tools required to acquire this experience are free, and if you're not willing to devote some of your time to it then you are probably going to be a waste of everyone else's time if you are hired.

Re:'Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062138)

If you want to get a job programming, but have never written any software that you've published, then you are probably not worth hiring.

"...as a marketroid.", that's what you meant to finish that sentence with, right? There are plenty of geeks out there who write code and build electronic gadgets for the challenge of seeing if they accomplish something very specific or simply to deal with some issue that they were having.

I've written countless little programs, especially when I was in HS and college back in the mid-'90s and there weren't quite as many open source *nix programs to do just about everything available (at least not full-featured such), to solve little problems I've had or just to prove to myself that I could write an implementation of algorithm Foo for a Bar program. None of those little programs were meant to be published, nor were they suitable for publishing. Why not? Was I a bad developer? No, I just cared about writing code, not about "publishing my software for a world-wide market so that I could maximize the profitability of my skill-set while simultaneously building a professional portfolio that would allow me to future-proof my earning potential on the GZZZK! BUZZWORD OVERLOAD! SHUTTING DOWN!"...

How does this apply to outsourcing to China? (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062226)

But my ex-boss told me that I can and should hire 9 highly educated (we'll, highly degree'd) software engineers in China for every guy I laid in the US.

Do we really have to show that they individually accomplished something? Or is some piece of paper with pHd written on it enough?

Even with a few projects... (2, Insightful)

inflex (123318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061850)

Even with a few Open-source projects under your belt for others to check out you might still be a crappy coder but at least they've got more chance to see what they're getting into.

A job is a means to put food on the table. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061852)

The incompetent need to eat too. Why not mentor the moron. Maybe they will turn out to be Einstein.

Re:A job is a means to put food on the table. (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062192)

No doubt you will get flamed for that, but there's a lot of truth to that. One of the best engineers I ever hired and worked with had a degree in Ocean Engineering and subsequently dropped out of law school. Ended up working as a gopher for a law firm. One day she walked into my office and asked for a job. Just so happened I needed somebody to be a gopher so we hired her. In three years she was running an engineering office and managing multi-million dollar projects.

She never would have made it past the filters proposed here. Some people just take the scenic route through life, and if you just look at "accomplishments" instead of people you will miss out on some of the gems.

Re:A job is a means to put food on the table. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062194)

In that case they should leave the coding to the competent people and become a patent clerk.

So... (4, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061856)

If you don't have experience we won't hire you ? I might be naive, but isn't by getting a job you get the experience? Yes I do agree that you don't hire someone who just got out of college to code for the next super secret OS, but you can't expect everyone to be the that good right away.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061886)

Experience is not what happens to you it is what you do with what happens to you. For example while trying to pitch software to a hospital a Ph D in Mathematics asked suppose someone wanted Chili con Carne with chicken. When you treat people with contempt isn't it surprising that they do not wish to be your customer.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061956)

Shouldn't this put more emphasis on professional internships then as a requirement for graduating from college?

Re:So... (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062038)

There is no excuse for software developers who don't have a site, app, or service they can point to and say, 'I did this, all by myself!' in a world where Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services have free service tiers, and it costs all of $25 to register as an Android developer and publish an app on the Android Market.

You didn't even have to read the article, it's right there in the summary. They're not talking about work experience, they're talking about stuff on the level of personal projects.

Re:So... (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062058)

You can expect somebody who has done coding before besides what they needed to be done for their course.

This means they will have done some coding for open source or made a website for something. Be it the church or their baund or their local pub or whatever.

It will not only show that you are able to program. It also shows you are able to interact at least a little bit with other people.

Why is this a nightmare? (5, Interesting)

hughperkins (705005) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061876)

Firstly, why is this a nightmare? Who wants extra competition?

Secondly, "technical interview" is a misnomer. They're actually "potential colleague" interviews. Who is going to pick someone who is smarter than them, or who is going to give them competition for promotion?

Those who get through technical interviews are either smart enough to bluff to the interviewer that they're not quite as smart as the interviewer, but an ok guy to hang out with; or are genuinely not as smart or talented as the interviewer, but are an ok guy to hang out with.

Quick tip: when you attend a technical interview, answering the questions correctly doesn't get you the job. Being amazed at how much the interviewer knows does.

Re:Why is this a nightmare? (1)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061936)

Firstly, why is this a nightmare? Who wants extra competition?

Because if there *is* work that needs to be done, you now have to

  • finish *your* part of the work
  • wait for the New Guy Who Can't Code to finish *his* work
  • find the flaws in NGWCC's code
  • find a way to fix them without announcing to everybody "NGWCC is a moron, and so is whoever hired him"

Just speculating, of course.

Re:Why is this a nightmare? (5, Interesting)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061982)

<quote><p>Who is going to pick someone who is smarter than them, or who is going to give them competition for promotion?</p></quote>

As the rule goes ... A class managers, hire A class people.
B class managers hire C class people.

A class managers do not feel threatened, so they hire the best there is. The result is a great workplace.
B class managers on the other hand want to make sure their staff is dumber than them selves, so they make sure they hire C class staff.

So the rule is, if your boss is a moron ... you should be worried.

Re:Why is this a nightmare? (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062166)

Somehow I've never found that to be very accurate. The "managers" love strong "doers" because they get projects done and solve problems quickly covering for the manager's incompetence and making him look good, while requiring a completely different skill set and interests. The danger is whoever has your title with "Senior" in front of it or if you have that, then "Chief" or "Lead". They know those are the positions you will be gunning for next, the natural step up.

No room for the new guy (4, Insightful)

cronius (813431) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061882)

I usually say that it doesn't matter what you know, what matters is how fast you learn. Someone who you can teach and tell how to do things once, and they actually understand the message and do it right from then on is much more valuable in the long run then someone who has a (short and) static merit list in my opinion.

Re:No room for the new guy (1)

L-four (2071120) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061902)

It's the people you have to tell twice, or cant use Google. That are the problem.

Evan, the best programmer evah (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061900)

There is no excuse for software developers who don't have a site, app, or service they can point to and say, 'I did this, all by myself!' in a world where Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services have free service tiers, and it costs all of $25 to register as an Android developer and publish an app on the Android Market."

There is no excuse for self-proclaimed software authorities who don't know that software development covers much more than just Web-related or mobile apps. I've been developing software since before the Web was invented and I still don't have a website, I don't write apps for Android and there's no service on the Internet that I can point to and say "I did that all by myself!" I'm a systems programmer and I make a nice living writing code for embedded systems that make it possible for this Evan guy to post his ridiculous rants on the Internet.

Re:Evan, the best programmer evah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062016)

Or what about those who write and release code under a pseudonym to avoid legal liability? How do we reference that?

Re:Evan, the best programmer evah (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062222)

So if you lose your job and come to me for an interview.....you have 20+ years of "experience" but no portfolio.....no proof that you've actually accomplished anything.....thank you for stopping by.....NEXT!.....

You have to ask technical questions (1)

jbplou (732414) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061908)

I've been on interviews for programming jobs where they didn't ask any true technical questions. They only asked you to talk about what you have worked on in the past and questions about team work. Not surprisingly they had many programmers who couldn't develop anything.

What do I need you for? (1)

cancrine (673769) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061910)

Ok. So, I'm an 'A-level' developer and I just registered on Android for $25. Why should I work Jon Evans? I'll just sell my Android app and make a million bucks or at least enough to cover the rent and have enough left over for beer money.

This IS/WAS the reason I was "into" doing freeware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061922)

AND, shareware. It allowed me to "sharpen the saw" (as I have heard the term used before) when I wasn't in a job currently, & especially when I started out in Comp. Sci. related work in 1994, professionally, first of all... because I feel that when you're still "professionally 'green'", is when you need it, the most... I say that, because at that point, your toughest opponent is yourself really: You usually don't HAVE much, if any, "professional experience" out of the gate from academia!

Secondly, for what this article's about, in "being able to show something" but MORE IMPORTANTLY, something they could even TRY directly themselves by downloading & installing it!

Just to show something to someone looking to hire me on (even if the program wasn't DIRECTLY related to the job @ hand, which in my case, was usually information systems work (DB)).

Lastly - I don't think it's the "greatest idea" to ONLY be good in a certain area of computing, e.g. - programming ONLY for example. It's MUCH better to have a good all-around jack-of-all-trades in coding feel for it (meaning doing more than just say, website work OR database programming in SQL etc.)...

Yes - that includes knowing the hardware, & how to make it networked (if not inter-operable with other operating systems platforms also, when cross-platform programming via middleware over IP aren't part of it that is).

There have been times that for instance, because I knew the OS @ hand? It was simple work to use ITS FEATURES rather than try to muddle through some bad documentation on an API to make something work (which is, @ first, job #1 - Get it working, polish it up later, because deadline's coming etc.)

Anyhow - Doing more than just what you end up doing coding-wise for a job? Hey - it only adds to your resume & skillset when you learn more about this field as much as you can, in its rather gigantic entirety (so many facets etc.).

So, I suppose, as to what I'm trying to say on that last account here, that's about it.

(Plus, face it: You're probably into computing @ these levels because you enjoy it too... & it's fun knowing you've learned something that made you that little bit more knowledgeable also).

APK

P.S.=> In any event, because I did that? Later, circa 1996-1999, because I did some freeware that did well for a certain company??

I even got lucky & had some of my code "bought out" by companies doing commercially sold wares in the end too (bonus!), & it went to MS-Tech Ed 2000-2002 as a finalist in its hardest category: SQLServer Performance Enhancement!

That, of all things, I think helped the most in my "earlier days" programming (as far as job seeking went & having that "something to show for it" per this article's topic)

... apk

Move along, sexists writer. (1)

Necreia (954727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061930)

FTFA

We’ve all lived the nightmare. A new developer shows up at work, and you try to be welcoming, but he1 can’t seem to get up to speed; the questions he asks reveal basic ignorance; and his work, when it finally emerges, is so kludgey that it ultimately must be rewritten from scratch by more competent people. And yet his interviewers—and/or the HR department, if your company has been infested by that bureaucratic parasite—swear that they only hire above-average/A-level/top-1% people. ....

1 - Yes, I am being deliberately sexist here, because in my experience those women who write code are consistently good at it.

I know it's socially cool to be anti-male, but come on.

Re:Move along, sexists writer. (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062012)

Being a good coder has nothing to do with sex.

People who are passionate about making good code have the potential to achieve greatness.

People who only care about making it "work" without requiring beauty in the code itself, well, you do the math...

Re:Move along, sexists writer. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062040)

FTFA

I know it's socially cool to be anti-male, but come on.

Yep... Over-broad stereotyping should be avoided at all costs. No matter how much life experience you have, that stereotype may not apply to the person in front of you.

Even my racist bigot of a neighbor will admit that not all black people are "niggers".

Re:Move along, sexists writer. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062110)

I'd say he's probably right, and not for anti-male reasons. The only women who stay in a male-dominated field like programming are the ones who are significantly better than their colleagues, or the ones who are good at fluttering their eyelashes and making their male colleagues cover for them - mostly the former.

Re:Move along, sexists writer. (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062142)

It makes sense though. Computer programmer is not a "traditional" female profession, and the barrier for entry is likely to be higher, thus mostly women who are truly passionate for the work end up in the computer business. I can see this at my university as well, there were very few women in the first year (Computer Science), but generally they've stuck with it to a higher degree than their male counterparts so that now that I'm in my 5th year, there is a higher proportion of women than when I started.

Re:Move along, sexists writer. (3, Interesting)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062206)

No, I've managed and worked with many incompetent woman coders. I've also managed and worked with good women coders. They are just a much smaller percentage of the work force.

Only interview arrogant "superstar" jerks??? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061946)

I have been lead on several projects and modules. I've even been in the position of being the only one to fully understand a system or module. I've rarely been the only one who ever worked on a system and I would never EVER claim it was all me. There is ALWAYS someone else involved, even if I was the guy who put it all together AND I will actively try to spread the knowledge so that if I'm hit by a bus you don't have to re-write the damn thing.

So if you don't want to hire people who say they did it all by themselves you won't be hiring anyone who's a team player or anyone who wants to share the knowledge. You'll only get arrogant unprofessional jerks who think they're irreplaceable and actively try to make themselves irreplaceable. Good luck with that!

Try hiring people who can say they've been lead on a project, been the guy on the floor on the implementation weekend etc. If their old boss could count on their technical and people skills chances are so can you.

Re:Only interview arrogant "superstar" jerks??? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062252)

So if you don't want to hire people who say they did it all by themselves you won't be hiring anyone who's a team player or anyone who wants to share the knowledge.

I agree with your sentiment, but you fail to see the value in accomplishment of smaller projects that you can actually do all by yourself.

I made a pac-man clone -- All by myself... I made a remote personal music streaming server with native, web & Android clients... All by myself...

I wouldn't exactly be listing the OpenGL-ES devs, Java & C language architects as helping me out these various projects -- I have created my own programming languages in assembly, and hand compiled them into machine code -- All by myself... Not listing Intel and AMD in the credits for my language and compiler on those platforms seems OK to me -- After all, they just listed the asm to machine instruction table and register layouts, They didn't help me invent a language or compiler for said language any more than JavaScript designers, Firefox & IE devs helped me write my Web-enabled Tetris clone...

Sure, for large multi developer projects there are always others I will list as contributors; however, for small projects I don't think "all by myself" is a bad thing to say -- Also note, I've worked with coders that have never done anything 100% by themselves -- they rely heavily on everyone else around them -- They're EXCELENT team players -- They know exactly how to manipulate others into making it seem like they're not totally useless themselves. Perhaps if they were managers it would seem ok, but they're getting paid to code, and are only a drain on the rest of the "team".

I don't think "All By Myself" has to mean anything good or bad, it depends on the project... Conversely I don't think "Team Player" only describes good uses of the word "player".

True story bro. (1)

mustPushCart (1871520) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061950)

A friend of mine was interviewing for a php position was asked the following apparently no brainer question.

"if 1 = 5,
2= 25
3 = 125
4 = 625
what is 5 = ?"

naturally he calculated out the fifth power of 5 as his answer and presented it. The interviewer put on a smug smile and declared the answer was '1' because he already stated that 1=5 (which was supposed to be cumulative or something).
I would have laughed my head off at the interviewer and walked out but my friend was polite enough to complete it.

Re:True story bro. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062158)

Both answers are correct (and the interviewer was a fool).

Re:True story bro. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062174)

I'd have walked out too, as soon as it became apparent that the interviewer would not understand or accept the explanation of why he was wrong.

Fair enough, if you need an urgent job done (5, Insightful)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061964)

If someone who's clever enough and can program is still a drag on productivity then it sounds like a problem of technical management in providing appropriate tasks, guidance and training. If you're in need of urgent productive programming (and / or you're a small start-up - *maybe*) then, yes, hire someone with substantial experience so you get returns quickly. Otherwise, it's your job to train them in stuff they might not know. Industry used to be responsible for training and educating workers appropriately beyond their academic career.

New guys do not get senior pay. (5, Insightful)

Smoodo (614153) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061966)

New guys do not get senior pay. People with experience usually command higher wages.
You can get people out of school fairly priced to their abilities. That fair price can be significantly under what an accomplished senior engineer will make.

The best question is, "Who are you fishing for and why?"

Hopefully your company is willing to spend the coin for the experience implied by this article.
If not, your company may see the time slow down as worth it. From an investment side, management must consider timing of future cashflows and likelihood they will arrive (risk). Slow and steady can win the race, despite how frustrating it can be to 'bring someone else up to speed.'

A little light on details (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061972)

So I went to click on the link to get more details--except there's no link. For example, exactly what is wrong with the interview process, and why can't the guy actually code? Instead, I get a lame rant about Johnny can't code because he doesn't have a web site, he went to college, and HR sucks?

Seriously lame.

Hopefully the comments will be better. Imagine that, I actually wanted to read TFA for once!

Re:A little light on details (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061988)

Well shit, seems firefox on Windows7 is having a bad link day, as I now can click the non-underline phrase "why the new guy can't code".

Dumb question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061976)

And what if you have accomplished a lot, but they're not public anywhere?

Sound absolutely reasonable (1)

ErrorBase (692520) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061986)

Years back we needed people for a project involving formatting documents in Word and some scripting. We started out with requesting for peple that know office and did some programming. these people were more expensive and were mediocre at best. We dropped them all, and requested some random people with 'computer literacy', we requested 3 times as much as needed, with the understanding that we would drop 2 thirds within a week.

We did a day training and let them work on the most simple documents, we sifted through a third within 2 day's, most of them just finished students that were looking for a job, but were not able to find a job in their field (mathematician, chemists), and some high school dropouts. At the end of the week we had 10 people we did the project with, a few of them stuck around after the project for several months or years to become projectleaders, surprising programmers and 'MSWord Wizzards'.
The students were afaik able to get a job in their field of choice after working with us.

And the best part: It was a sound business decision.

Nah (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062014)

Most of the programmers I've interviewed had good CV material - it's easy to manufacture that. About 2% could actually write C++ in a high pressure commercial environment. Some of the just plain crack up on the job ...

Hiring developers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062022)

Frankly, I find the macho demands to 'only ever hire the best' to be absolutely laughable. Pretty-much every position demands 'elite' - and, assuming these roles are eventually filled, it stands to reason that not only will most employes not be 'elite' - but a fair proportion -possibly about half- will be below average commercial developers... that is, assuming that it even makes sense to try to order developers by generic capability.

Hiring a developer, as with many hiring conundrums, is very tricky. Quite often, the hiring manager does not have the knowedge him/herself to assess candidates - or, if they think they do, their hands-on experience is so woefully out-of-date, the demanding questions they dream up simply aren't relevant today, so do not feature in the experiences of the most suitable candidates. To make matters worse, I see an over-dependence on 'quiz' style tests... which are preposterous as they raise only a small range of challenges - all of which could, in real life, be best answered in the context of reference material - but for which the test is one of rote learning... This actually swings assessment in favour of those who've spent their time learning the tests rather than enaging on productive challenging work in the past.

Another huge blunder I see over-and-over again is to assume a large number of years' experience with a particular narrow technology is beneficial. In practice, the competent developers are likely to have moved on several times - leaving behind a blinkered minority with little or no interest in keeping their skillset up-to-date. The final blunder I see is in managing developers - which is relevant as it is often the managers who do the hiring. There's a popular perception that technically tallented people lack social skills - and need to be treated 'specially' - which is (IMHO) balloney. The reason that management of developers can be hard is that there's a lack of willingness to enage with developers and to embrace their wider insights. Sure, they might be the only expert in technology X - but that doesn't mean that this need be their exclusive domain. In a healthy environment, new skills are learned and, through collaboration, ideas are effectively communicated and positve reuslts eventually emerge. Sadly, in my experience, this is a rare occurrence... but not one where the main barrier is developer competence.

This goes to show that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062026)

IT people are no more qualified to select new candidate than HR. Seriously, HR nail the right candidate 5% of the time. The remaining 95% is being filtered by the probation (trial) period. You would be surprised at how many qualified programmers still do crappy code. Or can't pass selection by overzealous HR.

To "Don't interview anyone who hasn't accomplished anything. Ever. Certificates and degrees are not accomplishments"

I answer : "Keep looking and good luck."

It was your job to figure out that he could not code and you are complaining about not doing your job. I have no sympathy.

Hungarian Notation (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062034)

Wow, a footnote devoted to a dig about Hungarian Notation, with a link to Wikipedia, and a display of complete ignorance of the subject. The Wikipedia article that he went to the trouble of linking to, while deriding the inventor of the notation, tells you that there are two forms, Apps Hungarian and Systems Hungarian, and no doubt goes on to tell you that the person that he is deriding invented Apps Hungarian. The point of this notation is to include units in variable names. For example, you might prefix a length with m or ft to indicate the units, or an index with row or col. It's then completely obvious that an expression like mHeight -= ftDistance is wrong. This is a very sensible convention and eliminates some very expensive yet simple to fix bugs. The author of the article calls it 'probably the dumbest widely-promulgated idea in the history of the field', which makes me quite glad that I don't work with him.

He's probably thinking of Systems Hungarian, which is what happened when the systems group at Microsoft got ahold of the idea and started prefixing things with their types (language types, not semantic types), which is completely redundant information.

Talent is a difficult thing to measure (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062036)

There are definitely some people out there who are annoyingly incapable and inept. Cert chasers and the like don't even realize they are what they are -- they were sold on the belief that if they attend and complete classes, that they will somehow have ability and knowledge. (I think I will take a class on weghtlifting and compete in Mr. Universe. or something...) Worse, I have never seen one of these people "become" a skilled and seasoned professional later on.

Success invariably hinges on a person's ability to think, learn and understand in the ways needed for their profession to be effective. Those are things that are difficult, if not impossible to measure by someone who doesn't have an in-depth understanding of the materials themselves. And yet, all too often, the people who are in charge of hiring such people are the very people who are completely unqualified to make such assessments. (Of course, this idealism ignores that politics can get many people around the requirements of skills, knowledge and understanding.)

Lack of shame is another problem that these unqualified employees display... or is lack of shame OUR perception? I know I would feel shame if I inserted myself into a situation where I was not qualified. But maybe that's just me and a bunch of other like-minded geeks here on slashdot. (Then again, when I insert my opinions here and someone with greater knowledge calls me an idiot, I don't often feel much shame... though some form of hate or anger results at times.)

I guess what I am getting at is that no matter what level you or another are at, someone else will be better or worse. There's a great thing about humans, as it turns out, though -- we are good at teaching each other things -- from what I have learned recently, that seems to be the "one thing" that humans have that other animals don't -- and we have the capacity to build on knowledge from our predecessors. But this knowledge is important for growth -- people with academic backgrounds have their place. ("Relevance" of academic knowledge is another matter though.)

I definitely identify with the problem and the solution(s) depends on the individuals with the problems. Sometimes "giving them enough rope" is the best answer. Other times, coaching them over their deficiencies is the best way. It's always a tough call.

Re:Talent is a difficult thing to measure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062184)

In programming, there are a lot of too-cool-for-the-room types who would opt for the "giving them enough rope" every time. It's a field largely of the self-taught that welcomes mostly the self-taught and, as with the sexism in computing fields, tends to reinforce itself by chasing out those who don't meet the criteria.

Programming mentors are something to be cherished, not purveyors of intellectual weakness, and unless employees are completely bereft of knowledge of programming fundamentals it's perhaps better to build a team that can work together and pull each other up through frequent code reviews. Less expensive than hiring a whole team of brilliant lone wolf coders and the cohesion will lead to a better product.

let me know how that works out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062050)

i studied computer programming in high school but because of attitudes like this never got a job and never got experience and have moved on with my life. Enjoy the jolt cola and your every increasing belly fat ya smug jerks.

Even if they didn't. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062070)

...a site, app, or service they can point to and say, 'I did this, all by myself!'

Whether they did or not.

how to hire and how to train (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062094)

The North American educational system (US and Canada) has become an expensive failure. Having worked in a major university, I have long agreed with Thiel's assessment (http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2011/04/higher-education_bubble_0) that the NA educational system is a catastrophic bubble.

Students aren't learning thinking, reading, writing, and speaking, nevermind technological skills. But there are profound sociological reasons for this.

If companies want skills, they are going to have to invest more in people and provide the training. So my question to the leadership of these companies is, how much do you really intend to invest in your people?

If the computer industry wants happier, more loyal employees, it must start treating people better. And despite the characteristic frustration of Software Manager X and self-indulgent programmers everywhere, the truth is that the senior management of software companies understands the economics of software development very well.

bad idea (1)

msuzio (3104) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062098)

this is a horrible, horrible elitist and unrealistic concept. Instead, find someone with passion and man up as a leader to help mold them to be great. Why is this person even working alone at all? Pair them up and help them learn to be a part of your unique group! Follow the apprentice/journeyman/master model....
I'd rather get a n00b who wants to be great than someone who hacked out a project on his own without ever being an active partner.

No perfect measure of candidate ability (1)

Zubinix (572981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062122)

I am sure that there are many capable software engineers rejected by places like Google and Microsoft. In some ways these places build a type of mono culture by trying to fit the same evaluation technique to everyone. Everybody's different. In the end an interviewer has to go on his/her gut feel.

Narrow minded author (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062130)

Some of us are embedded developers, you insensitive clod!

Gee, let me publish my jet engine fuel flow monitoring application on Android Market. Not.

So you want to get hired... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062134)

Fantastic! First thing you'll need to do....is emigrate. Emigrate, get naturalized, and when your desperate enough to work for cents on the dollar under hellish conditions, then, maybe, you just MIGHT be employable to corporate employers. THIS is the state of employment in the U.S. at this time.

Good luck.

OK theodp, link YOUR portfolio (2)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062140)

I, for one, would like to take a look.

Oops, I meant Evans, not theop (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062150)

Hey, I'M not the one claiming to be a super genius! ;-)

Re:OK theodp, link YOUR portfolio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062190)

What an idiot. Most developers work on in-house systems which are not accessible to the public. They're not the currently in vogue toy apps for mobile devices, or cruddy AJAX sites for an e-commerce site, they're several millions of lines of code holding their current employer's business together.

WTF this summary makes me mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062146)

OK. I'm a community college student and I plan on transferring to a UC and getting my Software Engineering degree. I'm pretty lazy and have a busy life, so I don't plan on wasting my time on crap I don't have to. These companies better hire me fresh out of college. Assholes. Oh wait. I'm pretty high right now so I forgot the beginning of the story says they want to change it, not they're going to change it. Ah.... relaxed....now...

Hire by trial is the only way.... (1)

xandercash (1791710) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062148)

It's ridiculously easy to be tricked, as an interviewer, in technical interviews. Tricked in both directions. Some people are stupendous programmers, but they have to look up everything (ever been asked to create a COM+ object from scratch without use of MSDN or the internet? Even a competent programming genius can have problems with this). Others will bring you code samples and say "I wrote this" and explain it in great detail, only to reveal later that someone wrote it for them and coached them through the whole thing (yes, this happened to me, dammit!)(but she was VERY cute). The same goes for "pointing to apps they created." Unscrupulous people would point you to plagiarized stuff. It's WAY too easy to take credit for other people's work, or app storefronts. The only REAL way to hire people and know their skills is to hire by trial. My favorite two ways of hiring are giving the candidates a competition task. I.e., write an app that does this. Then review the code. It's quicker, but a LOT of work for the interviewer reviewing the code if the task is easy enough and everyone completes it. The other way to hire by trial is simply bring them on as a temporary employee (1099) until they prove their worth. This is the method that works out for me the best, although some interviewee's are skeptical, most of the good ones don't seem to have a problem with this.

Simply because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36062156)

Go into art or literature and get laid.

Go into IT or science and watch your cock shrivel.

Simple why people won't bother with IT anymore.

Well, Generally... (1)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062162)

It's free to get sued for software patent infringement. And, your prior employers don't necessarily take it well if you are running around sporting their code during job interviews.

Anyways, it sounds like the same problem that occurs when hiring management. People are really hired because they pump up the ego's of administrators, executives, and managers they bump into as part of competing for the position, not because they actually know what they are doing. They look good and talk a good game. Hell, who wants another dark and whiny neck-beard anyway? He looks and smells funny. He acts like he has some kind of mental problem, like "introversion." (...that's sarcasm guys!) He makes you feel dumb by talking about stuff you don't understand anyway. He works harder, has better results with less resources and effort, and puts in longer hours, and that makes you look bad. Just hire the charismatic guy and you can slap each other's back and talk about normal stuff like sports, cars, boats, and bonuses.

Oh, it's worth pointing out that a lot of the really horrid ones will just fake credentials, like mail order degrees, fake references, and the like. It's not that hard to copy an obscure open source program and slap your name on it. Usually, the more charismatic the person, the less likely the hiring committee will scrutinize the veracity of the claims made, due to impatience and likability (basically, an impulse purchase.)

Some issues... (1)

JordanH (75307) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062200)

I think this advice is good in most cases, but there are some cases where it might not be applicable.

This might be good advice for people fresh out of school, but I'd like to point out that some companies make it difficult for people to do anything public outside of work.

Also, not everyone is interested in web work. In those cases, I'd expect those people to have blogs where they discuss their projects, show code and relate experiences.

Another issue is that certain school programs are pretty demanding and don't leave much time for work outside. A prospective employee going through one of these schools might be also doing internships at one of the companies that don't allow you to do work outside.

In all these cases, the prospective employee should have code that they can show and explain, a portfolio.

   

This isn't complicated (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062212)

If you find, after interviews, that you're hiring candidates who lack some particular skill X, then the solution is to find a way to test for that skill IN PERSON. Any other means leaves you wide open to the hordes of people who will find some way to fake it the moment it becomes understood that something is required. If your interviewers consistently return duds, you need to hone their techniques or have someone else do the interviews.

It comes down to this:
    Are you asking questions that display knowledge or programming techniques, or just obscure language trivia?
    Are you relying too heavily on generic (non-programming) problem solving questions?

Hand them a spec for a small code sample. Something that will take 15-20 minutes to write. After you review it, change some part of the spec and ask them how this would alter their approach.

Trouble Is, Most Programmers' Work Can't Be Shown (4, Insightful)

theodp (442580) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062218)

Unfortunately, unlike an artist or musician or copywriter, most programmers' finest work isn't intended to be publicly shown, since it may be regarded as a trade secret. Which puts both employers and coders in a bad position. And while a personal website may be useful to demonstrate certain talent, it won't help showcase work in proprietary languages for which one may be seeking employment.

This is why IT needs apprenticeships not school (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062262)

This is why IT needs apprenticeships not 4 years in school just to get a job.

You don't need a 4 year degree to get into plumbing and even if there is some school it's a lot more hands on that most CS classes.

The Interns system needs changes like Must be payed and must be real work no office office boy / copy boy / janitor type Interns.

apprenticeships can give real IT / tech skill that are not in books / not in the certification test.

The tech schools are better then the old fashioned colleges with being more hands on and more up to date then other colleges but HR does not like them or people who don't have any degrees. Also community college have more of tech school like classes as well. But the apprenticeships system seems to be better for IT.

If you can't get a 'job' (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062280)

go underground...

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