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Evaluating Resumes: Non-US Schools

I'm not a big degree snob, and am not that concerned about this, but is there any way to lookup how good a school X school in China or Russia are?  I don't think USNews has any info on international schools.  All I could find quickly on the web was a list of international b-schools.

Keith Wright
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Ask them to write code.

"Could you right a function to count the ON bits in an integer?"


If they just stare at you ... they ain't in the club. :-)

Matt H.
Thursday, February 13, 2003

*write* a function


Philip Janus
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Do you mean you won't have the oppotunity to interview the applicant face-to-face?

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Bottom line is that you should be a degree snob.

First year at a good school can be worth more than a masters degree from a weak school.

I live in a city in North America with three universities with at least that much difference between them.

I have had your problem with managing Indian programmers: IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) may have the best computer science curiculum in the world, but a masters degree from a typical Indian University is worth less than a community college diploma.

Make them code and design in the interview.

Ask tough questions: polymorphism, multiple inheritance, closures, continuations...

Anonymous Coward
Thursday, February 13, 2003

"Ask them to write code.

"Could you right a function to count the ON bits in an integer?"


If they just stare at you ... they ain't in the club. :-) "

Only if the job involves bit-flipping (snore).

If the job involves higher level work, that's a dumb question to ask.

PS  Maybe you should also ask them if they can spell "write."  If not, they're not in the literate club. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2003

If you think you would enjoy having a beer with them and hanging around socially occassionally, hire them.

Otherwise, they bore you.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

By the way, you don't mention what line of work your business is in. If it's a consulting shop or the type of place where you have to sell the business to people on a regular basis then having a laudry list of diplomas and certifications can be a big deal.


Philip Janus
Thursday, February 13, 2003

I can tell you a bit about the Indian schools.
IIT is one of the best in the world.My dad went to it.

Apart from that technology wise,I would put -

1.Anna University
2. Indian Institute of Science,Bangalore
3. Birla Institute of Technology,Pilani
4. Rourkee University
5. Benaras Hindu University
6. Manipal University

As some of the other respectable programs

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Personally, I'd largely disregard any undergrad degree I saw in favour of a programming test like the one mentioned above. Even if the courses are good it's still just too easy to cheat your way through by getting others to do your work for you.

First company I worked for did a programming test  before you were offered an interview. When I did it they'd actually hired a room and had about 40 people doing it at once - like being back at school :) The test had a C programming question and some accounting questions (company did accounting software).

The thing that has always amazed me was that any time we ran the test, we found that up to 60% of the applicants had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how to do the C question (which wasn't that hard, but tested your understanding of pointers). All these people had CS degrees or similar qualifications (and this was back in the early 90s when everyone was being taught C/C++).

Andrew Reid
Thursday, February 13, 2003

I concur with the programming test suggestion.  I've seen a significant minority (not quite a majority) of applicants claiming C expertise fail a *very* simple C programming test - one that anyone with a smidgen of C experience should be able to do in 15-20 minutes.

A good interview question might be to ask them to pick a personal project they've worked on and describe it to you, explain what they learned, what they had difficulty with, and so on.  All the good programmers I've ever met have done at least one personal project worth talking about.  If programming is just something you did for classes in college and do for work now, and you don't play around with it outside those settings, you're unlikely to be a very good developer.

(An exception is made for entrepreneurs, of course, whose personal and work projects are often one and the same.)

This is a big difference between developers who grew up in the third world versus those who grew up in the first (and to some extent the second): If you can't afford a computer or get time to yourself on one to play, chances are you won't take on the personal projects that lead to becoming a truly outstanding software developer.

Chris Hanson
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Regarding the first world, third world stuff, I grew up in India, and most people cannot afford a computer, Although we did have some basic computer classes in school like making flowcharts, I personally never did anything with computers till I was around 19, when i just learnt basic stuf flike word.However I had a solid math and physics background in school,and was really interested in Math, that was one of the reason that I chose to do a cs degree, and have now worked on large industry projects.I can claim to be at least competent,I am now 26, but never did anything with computers till I was 19.A lot of Indian programmers are like that, but I think it is a solid math background, with logic, where one can become a reasonable programmer in a few years........but if you do not have the infrastructure to do can't blame these people, perhaps more exposure to computers at a younger age would make them a better developer.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

>>but is there any way to lookup how good a school X school in China or Russia are?  <<

Make a note in your notepad : "Ask Slava for Russians schools":)

Usually Russian math schools are very good, especially ones from scientific centers: Novosibirsk, Moscow, SPB, Tomsk, Irkutsk, Omsk, etc

Friday, February 14, 2003

Presenting a code test is a cop out, writing code isn't particularly something you write off the top of your head, and if its something that can be done that way, i.e. reverse a string in place, all you're testing is memory.  Big deal.

If you're serious about recruiting then write the job specification and the person specification, remember that education is a guide not a prescription and that experience may outweigh qualifications.

Match the specifications against the CVs/resumes you have, interview at most 5 from that list.  You can discover how deep someone's knowledge is and the type of experience from asking questions and listening.  If you want some idea of the quality of their problem solving then give them a context free problem and let them free associate a 'solution'.

If you can't make up your mind after the first interview, I don't believe you, but if you have to have a second interview because someone higher up the food chain needs to validate the selection don't just repeat the first interview, have the interviewees tell you more about what they want to do, the place they want to work.

If someone has a qualification from some country you have no information about write to the local Consulate or Embassy for the country and ask them.  They'll be more than happy to oblige.

Simon Lucy
Friday, February 14, 2003

>Presenting a code test is a cop out, writing
>code isn't particularly something you write
>off the top of your head, and if its
>something that can be done that way,
>i.e. reverse a string in place, all you're
>testing is memory.  Big deal.

Ok, so if it's a C++ job, ask them when and why you'd use a viritual function.  Ask them the difference between an STL map and a vector - and situations for which they'd use both.

Ask them what a VTABLE is.

The point of the programming question is to get at "do you really understand what an X is and can you write a simple function around it?" - In C, can you malloc and free correctly?  Do you "get" that NEWED objects in c++ need to be deleted? etc, etc, etc.

You would be AMAZED how many people have these skills on the resume but can't actually do the work.

Again, your goal here is just like evaluating a college someone attended: To weed out the totally unsuitable.

For more information, I'd highly recommend "PeopleWare" by DeMarco/Lister.


Matt H.
Friday, February 14, 2003

I already do a lot of what is recommended here.  In fact I have them sit in front of a computer and write a small dialog app (mortgage P&I payment calculator). I ask them about C++ features I consider important (exceptions, polymorphism, deep copy, and some MFC questions).

But when I'm looking at their resumes before hand, it just irks me not to have a way to judge the quality of their school.

Keith Wright
Friday, February 14, 2003


Do they still publish that magazine "SputniK" (at least that's what I think it was called!), used to read it when I was kid?


Prakash S
Friday, February 14, 2003

The advice to ask interviewee to write some code is good. ...However, it's completely irrelevant to the original question. Either Western or Chineses or Russian, degrees don't correlate to coding skills directly.

If you are not interested in educational background at all - that's fine and probably makes sense. But if you do - C/C++ coding will not help you to compare western and "eastern" degrees.

Slava's advice is the best one. You have to ask residents of those countries about a particular school. There's no centralized web resource to research them (at least, for ex-USSR countries).

As a rule of thumb, you can trust any ex-soviet Ph.D., as in USSR the quality of Ph.D. was guaranteed by the state, not by a particular University. The Ph.D. were issued by the State authorized Specialized Scientific Councils, not by academic institutions (however, many Councils were related to University Departments). IMHO, on average, it was much more difficult to get Ph.D. in the USSR, comparing to the USA, for example.

However, the situation with ex-soviet M.S. degrees is completely different. The M.S. degrees are only as good as the University/professors behind it. It was not so difficult to get an M.S. at all (still, you had to spend 5-6 years on it). So, again, you need to ask someone (Slava, for example:) about your specific case.

My $0.02

Friday, February 14, 2003

I've been in Moscow. There must be a dozen if not two dozen universities there.

Some are world class: Moscow State University just blew me away. I've worked with several brilliant graduates from there none of whom were Russian.

Some are good: Moscow State Technical University (aka Bauman University) didn't live up to its reputation but was still well above average for an engineering school.

Others seem to thrive on "ivy league" reputations, the education may not be the best but you get to connect with the rich and powerful.

Several are widely held in contempt, including one of the three medical schools.

I've work with some good ones from Novosibirsk too. But I don't know what schools they went to.

Anonymous Coward
Friday, February 14, 2003


Do they still publish that magazine "SputniK" (at least that's what I think it was called!), used to read it when I was kid?

thanks, <<

This is a link in Russian. Looks like Sputnik is called Russian Mirror now.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

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