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Bizarre interview tip

Just thought of this from an interview past - I knew I had a few people to interview with, and it was a cattle call, so I took a book on remoting 'cause I wanted to start learning it.

It was like a hypnotic disk - *every* interviewer kept asking me remoting questions. Problem was that I hadn't even had a chance to crack the cover. I was completely upfront that I was just starting out with remoting, but they were all over it.

So apparently when you go on an interview, take a book covering whatever aspect of programming you're really comfortable with. [grin]

Philo

Philo
Friday, January 23, 2004

Spooky...

Alex.ro
Saturday, January 24, 2004

And if you have a book on interview tips and techniques?

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, January 24, 2004

>>And if you have a book on interview tips and techniques?

Whoooa, trippy. Recursive!

Eric DeBois
Saturday, January 24, 2004

[I was completely upfront that I was just starting out with remoting]

[So apparently when you go on an interview, take a book covering whatever aspect of programming you're really comfortable with.]

...

Eta
Saturday, January 24, 2004

I think that the interviewers liked it so much, because it showed initiative and an interest to improve.  How many people do you know and/or work with that read one book on $language_of_choice and stopped at that.  Its like writing books after only reading a dictionary. 

By bringing a book and showing that you were interested in improving yourself (reading a book on grammar) you immediately set yourself out from the dictionary-programmers.

Whenever I start participating in interviewing, thats definitely going to be one of my questions.  "What software book have you read lately that didn't just teach how to program in a given language?"

Andrew Hurst
Saturday, January 24, 2004

That's a pretty common question in my experience: "Tell me about the last tech book you read: why you read it, and what you got out of it."

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Saturday, January 24, 2004

>>  "What software book have you read lately that didn't just teach how to program in a given language?"

==========

This may be a fine question to ask only for conversational purposes, but asking it to help determine a candidate will certainly not provide you with anything more than the knowledge that this particular person likes to read books.

There is no correlation between what software books you've read and how good you are at programming a computer.  It's like saying at an interview, "I've read Joel Spolsky's articles!".... and your point would be?

Selecting/Interviewing a person for a job is like looking at prisoners through the one-way glass...  They file in, line up, you look at each, you boss says,  "Which one is it?"  You reply, "It's that one."

Hat
Saturday, January 24, 2004

Hm. I suspect several people who replied didn't get my point.

I took a book on Remoting, which I hadn't started reading yet. I didn't get a chance to even turn a page before the interview started.

Interviewer: "Oh, you're reading about remoting?"
Me: "Yeah, I want to start learning about it, but I haven't even started the book yet."
Interviewer: "Okay, so tell me the different types of remoting."
Me: "Uh, I haven't really gotten into it yet."
Interviewer: "I see. What channels can you use in remoting?"
Me: "DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH? I NEVER SAID I KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT REMOTING."

[etc]

Thus my point is that since taking a book on a subject seems to be like yelling "don't think about sex," then you should take a book covering a subject you DO know very well.

Are we clear?
Philo

Philo
Saturday, January 24, 2004

Aye, Aye Captain.  Attention!


Saturday, January 24, 2004

Yeah, the best programmer I've ever known never read any programming books.  Took him something like 2 weeks to go from a client/server mfc/windows world to an n-tier linux/java world.  I have to think about design, but he was able to sit in front of the computer and channel the gang of four. 


Saturday, January 24, 2004

Hat, if your interviewing is like that, remind me not to bother with your company.  You guys must get some real turkeys with such an approach.

Good programming ability is a function of innate qualities.  I'd take an empty but brilliant and talented programming mind over a 30-year software veteran with PhD in CS but a brain not-so-superbly-suited for programming.  So books read is not a surefire indicator, but I've yet to see such a talented mind that isn't compelled to read voraciously.  Not one.  And why settle for the unfulfilled talent when with a little effort you can yield better, unless you're looking for an apprentice?

I ask the books question, but it isn't a deal killer.  It just helps fill in the picture.  If I'm looking for someone to hit the ground running, they'll need to really shine on the coding problems to make up for ignorance of the literature though.

(Not that this has anything to do with Philo's post.  Oh well.)

veal
Saturday, January 24, 2004

1. I'm not a hiring authority.  Never have been.  Might be sometime in the future.  Just stating my view on the hiring process.

2. Most of the people that I know that have read "Design Patterns" still don't know how to apply that knowledge to their everyday coding practices.  They're "book smart."

3. If you are going to ask what books a person has read at the very least ask them how they have (in the past) or how they would (in the future) apply the knowledge they gained from the book to a real world scenario.  It is all too common for people to claim they "read computer books."  You see computer books listed on almost every computer geeks blog.  Great!  It's the rare person who actually writes in their blog what knowledge they have gained and how they have applied it.

Hat
Saturday, January 24, 2004


--
Yeah, the best programmer I've ever known never read any programming books.  Took him something like 2 weeks to go from a client/server mfc/windows world to an n-tier linux/java world.  I have to think about design, but he was able to sit in front of the computer and channel the gang of four.
--

You are so full of bullshit it's not even funny.

BSdetector
Saturday, January 24, 2004

"You are so full of bullshit "

Nope, swear to god.  Maybe it was more than 2 weeks, but it _seems_ like it was only two weeks.  He was the rare one that _really_ was 10-20X more productive than a 'good' programmer.  One day he was asking for a 2nd machine to play around with Linux on, a few weeks later he was showing me large chunks of a new system he was putting together.  That man could do in a weekend what it would take a whole team weeks on. 

Hey, it's not like he or I either one is gaining anything by posting this.


Saturday, January 24, 2004

How do you know he didn't read any books?  He could have dozens of books at home that he's read but you don't know about.

Sounds like those students who get straight As and people think they don't study.  They do study, just not when and where you're looking.

T. Norman
Saturday, January 24, 2004

cause he told me he didn't read many books.


Saturday, January 24, 2004

If I had been on the other side of the table, you would have aced the interview by simply looking up the answer in the book.

Danil
Saturday, January 24, 2004

Oh sweet mother of god I feel like an idiot.

Why didn't *I* think of that?

Philo <- banging head on desk

Philo
Saturday, January 24, 2004


--
cause he told me he didn't read many books.
--

The difference between "never read any books" and "didn't read many books" is huge. Your first post was an exaggeration at best and an outright lie at worst. How can we trust anything you say?

BSdetector
Sunday, January 25, 2004

Did the conversation go like this?

"No, I haven't read many books actually... umm... let's see... in high-school I read one called The Art of Computer Programming, by Knuth... umm, I read Transaction Processing, by Jim Gray... Operating Systems Design and Implementation, by Tanenbaum... there was this one that had a knight fighting a pixelated dragon on the cover... I can't remember the name.  Shoot, what was that one by Hennessy and Patterson called?  Oh and last year on and airplane I read a small one called Test Driven Development, by Kent Beck.  But that's about it I think.  So was Enterprise Java in 5 Days any good?  I don't really like to read much."

:-)

veal
Sunday, January 25, 2004

bs detector == troll with little class and no style, highly insecure as evidenced by being threatened with the skills of an anonymous persona on the internet.

veal:  He actually read a lot of code and some online manuals.  The 2 years I was around him he had bought only 1 book --and it was about data warehousing. 


Sunday, January 25, 2004

anonymous persona:

Call me what you want. Your first story was implausible. I merely pointed out that fact. Now you start backpedaling. Each time you post your programmer friend continues to have read more and more. This further supports the notion that good developers read.

BSdetector
Sunday, January 25, 2004

"good developers read"

well duh!  there's a difference between not reading programming books, 99.9% of which are LAME and not reading anything!

Johnny Simmson
Sunday, January 25, 2004

Ok, yeah, you're right, I made it all up.


Sunday, January 25, 2004

So Philo, how did you manage to get the book into the interview so that the interviewer asked you about it? I always stuff anything like that into my briefcase beforehand so they don't see it (particularly if it is "SQL For Dummies" or whatever ;-)


Monday, January 26, 2004

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