Beefy Boxes and Bandwidth Generously Provided by pair Networks
There's more than one way to do things

Stop with the interview questions already

by ssandv (Hermit)
on Aug 29, 2009 at 17:13 UTC ( #792088=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

So, it seems like there's been a rise in the frequency of a certain sort of SOPW post lately, although I'm a relative newcomer here, so perhaps it's been going on longer and this is just a natural cycle. These questions have certain features in common:

  • The poster's nationality is (typically) readily determined by their username and/or the particular style of English they write in
  • Often, the question is extremely specific
  • The extremely specific questions have absurd constraints (real world example of this: last night, in the chatterbox: "how to divide a number by 2 without using the division operator?")

Most people here probably think these are someone's homework questions. By and large, they're not, at least not in the sense you're used to. They're interview questions. See, in certain countries that are popular outsourcing destinations, not only don't they have enough highly-trained programmers, they don't have enough highly-trained managers either. So, the people doing the hiring need a list of questions to ask--with predictable consequences. (There's a similar list of questions floating around for software testing, which is how I recognized the phenomenon.)

So in a sense, we're not being asked to help with homework, we're being asked to help with something more like test questions--because really, isn't a job interview a test?

This raises quite a few concerns. One obvious one is that these questions don't actually tell anyone whether the interviewee genuinely knows Perl, if there's a bank of "interview questions" that people are passing around and studying up on. So they're bad for Perl, because they could lead to people getting hired without any general knowledge of the language.

A related concern, it seems to me, is that this is actually an unethical practice. The people asking these questions are, in essence, trying to fool interviewers into thinking they know more about Perl than they actually do, and they're enlisting our help to do it. Now, I understand that it's common practice to try to "bone up" on things that one expects to be asked at a job interview--but really, if you're interviewing for a Perl job, you should know some Perl, and that doesn't come from a set of strange interview questions.

Further, I would submit that there's an obvious right way to get the answers to questions of this sort, and that answer is the documentation. Perl has *excellent* documentation, and anyone who claims to know Perl should be familiar with it.

I think that the *only* correct way to answer these questions when they occur is to point at the documentation, not help people pretend to know Perl, when all they actually know is what someone told them was the answer to a set of specific, obscure questions.

As you might expect, I'll be linking this any time one of these questions shows up, unless someone beats me to it. In most of the cases I've seen, the people who ask these sorts of questions continue to ask them, without any evidence they've followed the pointers they've been given to the documentation. If you learn to use the documentation, you almost can't help but learn Perl. If you refuse to use the documentation, you'll never know Perl.

  • Comment on Stop with the interview questions already

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by toolic (Bishop) on Aug 29, 2009 at 18:01 UTC
    Here's my opinion.

    I am under no obligation to answer any question. Nor is any monk (anonymous or otherwise) under any obligation to answer questions posed in the Monastery. We are all volunteers, and as human beings, we are endowed with free will. I am free to not answer any question I choose, for whatever reason I choose, whether I suspect it to be a homework question or an interview question. It is my personal and private choice.

    I prefer not to clutter up the site with responses which only chastise the Seeker with 'do your own homework'. If you really object to a question, one solution is to abstain from responding.

    If I feel like answering a question, I do so in a manner that I see fit. Sometimes it is simply a link to documentation or another node.

    I agree that we should all encourage Seekers to read the fine manual, and we do so quite frequently.

      I think for a homework question, "This is a homework question, and I'm totally stuck" would be a perfectly good way to preface a question that would almost always get someone a useful answer here.

      I don't think the preface "This is a job interview question, and I'm totally stuck" would get treated the same way without a much more detailed explanation. So, I think it's worth distinguishing the two, and responding differently.

      And, in general, while not answering is an option, and sometimes an effective one, very few questions go unanswered here. I have seen a lot of these questions treated as if they were homework questions (a bit of snark, a pointer to the documentation, almost always ultimately followed by a fairly comprehensive right answer), and I think there are reasons that could be harmful when it's actually an interview question.

        While I appreciate your concern, I suspect the risk of harm is quite small - perhaps small enough that we don't need to worry.

        Providing answers to an interviewee during an interview might be harmful but it is easy for the interviewer to prevent this happening if effective use of Internet resources is not part of the intended assessment.

        Reasonably, it is the responsibility of the interviewer to set the conditions of the interview, including whether access to the Internet, the manuals or any other resources is allowed. I don't know that it helps for me to make assumptions about the intended process or to try to impose my preferences for assessment on others.

        There might be some people who are promoted to a position where they are responsible for interviewing and assessing others yet they are not reasonably competent to do so. There are certainly some who I don't agree with. But perhaps my limited success in life indicates that I'm not the best just judge and the relative success of some others might suggest that there are other ways than mine that are better than mine. My not answering questions related to interviews will do very little to solve such problems.

Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by rcaputo (Chaplain) on Aug 29, 2009 at 18:47 UTC

    Assuming correctness of the premise that these are interview questions, helping people advance beyond their skills is detrimental to everyone but the applicant.

    • Applicants are hired under false pretenses.
    • Employers receive less for their money.
    • Employees must deal with new hires who don't really know Perl, and the code that they produce.
    • The job market for competent Perl programmers is reduced.
    • The code these applicants produce supports the idea that Perl is a write-once, read-never language, and the department should move to Java.

    That said, it's really up to the individual to decide whether to help someone pass a job interview. In many cases, it's probably impossible to determine the nature of a question without being a right bastard about it. YMMV, etc.

      The individual who asked the question in the chatbox last night indicated that it was an interview question. I can't, obviously, speak for all of the questions, but I was pretty sure that was what many of them were based on their similarity in spirit to the software testing interview questions list I've seen.
Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by ELISHEVA (Prior) on Aug 30, 2009 at 20:45 UTC

    I'm rather disturbed by the original post on this thread. I admit to being bored by the huge number of very narrow questions that have been posted to PerlMonks recently. I can understand the frustration and even share it, BUT ...

    First and foremost,whether or not a question is worthy of an answer should be based on the question itself, not on second guesses about the author's country of origin. The author's tone matters. The author's clarity in posting the question matters. But country of origin? As one of my teachers was fond of saying: "Ideas, good and bad, do not have a pedigree". I found even raising the question of nationality counter productive and detrimental to your main point: "What are the ethical issues in answering a test question posted on Perl Monks?".

    Second, if you search on the word "homework" in supersearch I think you will find a wide range of opinions and strategies for dealing with homework questions. There are many ways to provide an answer that does not simply let someone fake knowledge:

    • Giving a partial example with some elements "left as an exercise".
    • Explaining core concepts.
    • Inviting the OP to post some code showing an attempt to apply concepts already explained. And then when the OP posts (they sometimes do), following through with further feedback.

    The assumption that people should just "Read the fine manual" because anything else is cheating is a little like saying, "you can't do theoretical math because you weren't born knowing how to write proofs". Writing proofs is a learned skill. Reading documentation is a learned skill.

    Maybe the OP's first experience reading through documentation was a walk in the park. But for most of us, myself included, the first forays into the world of technical documentation were more like trying to do the Iron Man competition after a lifetime of couch potato-hood. When we first start reading documentation, understanding it seems like an almost impossible task. Nearly every sentence is laden with unfamilar jargon. Programming concepts essential to understanding the text are rarely identified, let alone explained. It often takes a teacher, mentor at work, or helpful monk to begin peeling away the confusion.

    Best, beth

      The question of the origin of the author may very well help the understanding. If the question is posted in a very bad English and I can guess the native language of the poster is Russian (or Polish or Czech or some other Slavic language) I can make use of my knowledge of Czech and Russian to make some sense of the garbled sentences. Sometimes even translate the sentences word by word into Czech or Russian and thus find out that he/she chose a wrong option from the list of translations suggested by the dictionary and finally understand the question.

      Likewise the knowledge that the poster is Indian combined with even a basic understanding of the way the Indian languages are built can help understanding the question and/or understanding that the person is not rude, but rather that he/she doesn't speak English well enough to know he/she should use "please" because in his/her (I hate this "gender equal" nonsense) language he would use a different word for "you" to basically mean the same thing.

      Besides "how come Indians tend to behave one way while Americans behave that way" is often an interesting and important question. If you do not notice the nationalities, you'd just wonder why "hchkrdtn" and "bflmpsvz" behave this way and "enejeia" and "aeiou" behave that way. And you find out nothing. You can't even start wondering whether it's something in the school system, language, religion. And you can't understand why the bunch of people, for example, sound rude. While it IS because they are Indians. And because in their language the "being nice" and "being rude" is encoded in a different enough way that they do not know they are sounding rude.

      Enoch was right!
      Enjoy the last years of Rome.

        (I hate this "gender equal" nonsense)
        The use of the third-person plural pronouns ("they") to stand in for gender-neutral third-person singular pronounds ("he", "she") in English go back a long way. There is and was no reason to abandon them for an awkward neologism.
      It often takes a teacher, mentor at work, or helpful monk to begin peeling away the confusion.
      Indeed. And that all should have happened long before the homework was assigned or interview question was asked.

      If you're still wondering what the docs say during homework or interviews, you deserve to fail. Any intercession in that process is just plain ineffective, and does more harm than good in the long run.

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

      The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

        I'm not following your point here. Are you suggesting that someone has forfeit their right to learn something new N hours before an interview or test? If so, how many hours 12? 24? a week?

        At my university, homework and even exams were designed to teach. The learning happened while we were working on the problem sets and exams, not "long before". We were in fact encouraged to discuss concepts, approaches and ideas with one another as we prepared our work.

        Though I am not a professional teacher, I have spend countless hours successfully tutoring people that others told me had no chance. They were too dumb. Or didn't try enough on their own. Or it was too late. Or they were too much effort. In reality, they never believed in themselves or were intimidated by something that seemed easy to everyone else. When someone came along with the attitude - "you can learn", they flowered. So I don't believe in "deserve to fail". I do believe in "you will inevitably fail this time because there is too much to learn for now, but next time can be different and here is how we can make it so..."

        If someone doesn't have enough knowledge to pass an interview coming up within hours, they aren't going to miraculously get it by reading a few answers at Perl Monks, especially if those answers focus on explaining the core concepts and language elements needed to solve the problem rather than hand out a solution to a particular problem on a platter. Most likely, that job opportunity will be lost to them. But helping them get the job isn't the point anyway.

        Those of us who answer questions like these and care about learning, do so because we are thinking about the person's development as a whole. We want to communicate an excitement about Perl and programming and the kind of thinking needed to succeed in it. The job interview or test may be tomorrow, but the learning process will go on afterwards for many years if we can communicate and infect others with our enthusiasm.

        How many of us in life start out doing something for the wrong reasons and end up getting hooked for the right reasons? Does it really matter that someone came to PM looking for a shortcut, if they get snookered into actually learning something because someone took their silly and overly narrow question seriously and looked behind it to find something useful to teach?

        Best, beth

        Your point got a lot of downvotes so I'm jumping in-

        Any intercession in that process is just plain ineffective, and does more harm than good in the long run.

        Everyone else should know that this is gospel. There is a definite point in learning when extra or continuing help is actively harming the student. The charitable have a hard time seeing this. "But, I'm helping!" At the point merlyn describes, you aren't anymore. Everyone has to find that line for him/herself so I don't pretend to prescribe it but it is real and deserves consideration by teachers.

        Perhaps I was less fortunate than you in the teachers and managers that I had, but my experience is that often teachers are no more competent at teaching than some managers are at managing and some interviewers are at interviewing === not very competent at all and sometimes abusive and harmful to the student's development.

        Except where I have had one-on-one tutoring/mentoring (rarely), the presentations I have had were often not well suited to my own learning style and ability. In some cases I would go so far as to say they were not well suited to anyone in my class.

        I'm fortunate that I do quite well reading manuals and texts - it's my preferred method of learning, after hands-on experience. But I know some very intelligent people who cannot read manuals - they can learn, given appropriate presentations, but they can't read or, at least, their ability to read and learn from lengthy texts (relative to twitter) is so limited that they habitually seek other sources of information and simply ignore manuals and books and strongly resist reading them even when pressured. In some cases, pressuring them to read would be highly counter productive.

        Without knowing the specifics of the case, it is a bit presumptuous to assume that every student has already had the benefit of ideal, or even reasonable presentation of the subject matter by the time they are given a homework assignment or attend a job interview, or that they are learning in the context of an ideal, or even reasonably effective study plan. My experience is that sometimes the prior presentations are grossly inadequate. I also have met teachers (hired and professionally responsible for teaching) who did not know their subject matter sufficiently to be effective. Yet their students were better off for their willingness to do their best to teach despite their limitations and there were none better available. Not everyone lives in areas so well endowed as North America and Western Europe.

        Everyone needs help to learn and develop their abilities. While I agree that those who have not achieved a required competence deserve to fail assessment of that competence, I don't think that equates to their not deserving any further help.

        Rather than saying that any intercession is ineffective, I would say that if one is truly interested in teaching one must learn the specifics of the case, including the abilities and past experience of the student, and continue by developing teaching plans that suit the student's needs. Refusing to answer questions or berating the student for not having read the documentation without knowing these specifics is unlikely to be effective.

Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by talexb (Canon) on Aug 30, 2009 at 16:25 UTC

    The company I work for has a standard Perl question that they ask developers. And when they asked me this question, I quickly dashed off a solution, which fell apart as soon as they asked me to explain it (awkward). I dropped that approach and did it another way, and was able to prove or explain that it would work. Phew.

    I imagine that this question has leaked out, and there may have been applicants who have written the perfect response based on that advance knowledge. I seriously doubt that advance knowledge helped them. Any further exploration into Perl knowledge would clearly have left them high and dry.

    I don't believe that software development is in a place now where you can 'fake it till you make it' -- you have to be able to have decent chops and be able to hit the ground running. You have to eat, live and breathe software.

      Aside: I interviewed with Microsoft back in 1987, and the first of two interviews went great -- while the interviewer and I were waiting for the elevator to go back to the lobby for the second meeting, we were discussing the intriguing challenge of scheduling elevators, and he asked me what analog to that scheduling there might in computer systems. Without really pausing to think, I said, 'the position of a disk drive's head'. Yup.

      The second interviewer and I just didn't click, and that was the end of that.

    Cheating on interview questions is going to be a waste of time for both the underqualified employee and for the frustrated employer who has to downgrade and/or terminate the employee. That's not a good outcome.

    But to get back to the original interview question -- if you're a developer, you should be familiar enough with binary, octal, decimal and hex, and with numbers in general, that you can do all sorts of cool tricks with numbers.

    • Pounds to kilogramsKilograms to pounds? (1) Divide by 2.2 by halving then taking off ten percent. Other way? Add ten percent, then double it.
    • Figure out a 15% tip? Take ten percent, then add half.
    • Hex math? Jut the same as decimal math, except the ten times table is 2 1/2 times larger. (Extra challenge: try extracting the square root of a number in hex.)
    • Dividing by 2 without using the divide function? You should really know that one, dear hearts.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

    1. Thanks to abell, I have finally fixed this pounds/kilograms mixup after two weeks. Can I blame dyslexia? I can? Sorry, my mistake.

      "Dividing by 2 without using the divide function?". Sure, you write a function that converts the number to a string of "0"s and "1"s, then you chop() off the last digit and then you write a reverse conversion function. Or no? ;-)))

      P.S.: I once faked it till I made it. Kinda. I was "borrowed" by my employer to another company temporarily as a "MS SQL professional". I've seen it for the first time about two days before that. They never found out and everyone was happy. I learned what I needed as I went along. It's about 12 years ago.

      Enoch was right!
      Enjoy the last years of Rome.

        Stepping aside from this heavy discussion to a lighter moment ;) ... I guess an interview question like "How do you divide by 2 without using the divide function?" is probably not intended to test your knowledge but to test other desirable skills/qualities, and the way you answer it would tell something about your personality. Perhaps there is a wittier answer to it than the obvious "multiply by half" or the dull "not possible".

        Reminds me of this incident ... my brother was once asked this question towards the end of an interview for a programmer job,
        Q.: What is the probability of picking a red ball from a bag containing equal number of red and blue balls?
        A.: 0.5
        Q: Ok. How would you increase the probability of picking a red ball from the bag?"

        Without going into the theory of probability to explain that there wasn't a fair way to do so, he just replied jokingly, "Paint one of the blue balls red".

Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 30, 2009 at 18:37 UTC
    I Outsourcing Destination in am me. Also upset now.

    Just kidding but I am in, what you seem to refer to as an "Outsourcing Destination". I have also been on Perl Monks for a bit now and really like the site.

    I always wondered why there was a certain amount of animosity towards those from a particular part of the world, (which can, I admit, be determined by the way they use English).

    Let me try to explain what I mean - In most, "Outsourced Countries" languages, the concept of "Please" does not exist. So one would not say "Can you please tell me how to do this". This is because in their mother tongue such a question would be asked as follows:

    "(Can - not needed when talking in these languages) You {Respective You} tell { Respective version of word Tell} me {Non respective use of word Me} {how to - again not needed} do this?"

    This when translated into English becomes "You tell me do this?" - clearly grammatically incorrect and at the same time rude.

    I have noticed that a lot of people get into trouble for such questions and was about to write out a post explaining these language differences that might be causing misunderstandings when I came across this post.

    I now know why most of those I know use "Western" sounding names on forums such as this - that way they can not be identified by
    The poster's nationality is (typically) readily determined by their us +ername and/or the particular style of English they write in

    My point?

    Well the one good thing I have found about fellow programmers is that it does not matter if you are "cool" or if you can speak good English or if you are rich or whatever - What matters is how well you can code and what your code can do.

    I understand that a lot of people in countries that outsource stuff are upset. You on the other hand must understand that products from these outsourcing countries hit third world (often Outsource Destinations) with adverse effects.

    We can go on into a political debate here - we can also go on into a debate on if it is "good" to help people with interview questions.

    Lets face facts however:

    No one here cares if people are using what they learn here for interviews or for homework or whatever. Most people here try to help those who need it, and like doing so.

    However there are those who try to bring in their personal - non Perl - related feelings into who should not be getting answers and who should.

    If this site is not about exploring what each of us like about Perl and learning from each other and is instead about "Bringing down the criminals from outsource destinations who steal Jobs" - then lets be clear on that.

    Why am I posting this as anonymous

    Because I still like this site and want to be a part of it and know that if I don't post as anonymous I will most certainly stop using this site.

      No one here cares if people are using what they learn here for interviews or for homework or whatever. Most people here try to help those who need it, and like doing so.
      I strongly disagree.

      And I object to you mischaracterizing Perlmonks as such.

      Keeping the issues of "outsourcing" and "racial hatred" completely out of the equation, let me make it perfectly clear:

      Most people here believe that homework and interview questions are a test of an individual's already existing skill, not their ability to crowdsource the answer.

      As such, answering these questions undermines the very integrity of the process, and is bad karma, if not much more serious.

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

      The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

      A couple things (and some of them I probably could have been clearer on in the first place): I'm not saying outsourcing is a crime--in fact, I'm one of the first people to come down on people who think they have some right to stop learning new stuff and still stay employable. As long as there are gaps in the standard of living among technologically advanced nations, there will be outsourcing. I'm also not saying that I don't understand why, when there's clearly a list of "likely interview questions", people would come here trying to get them answered. I certainly think this particular problem has more to do with bad management practice than anything else.

      What I'm trying to say is--that's a lousy way to learn Perl; the questioners have in several cases come back with ridiculously similar questions, which suggest strongly they ignored every pointer to the documentation, and/or are shotgunning straight off the list without realizing the same documentation they were pointed to for their last question would answer this one too; it frustrates the people trying to give help, which makes it less likely they'll get good answers when they have good questions; and it tends to crowd the Newest Nodes and Recently Active Threads with stuff that's got no meat.

      I found the stuff you said about the language barrier pretty interesting. I don't think it explains some of the behavior, though. It *really* feels like there are people who are unhappy if they don't get handed an answer that they can use verbatim to answer the question. I submit that people who think that way will never be good programmers--and to the extent that they're employed as Perl programmers, that *is* bad for all of us. I certainly recognize that it's possible for sensible people to disagree on this point, but that's the conclusion I've come to.

      I don't think this post would hurt your reputation at the site, whoever you are.

        I think the question of answering certain kinds of questions is not what is really at the heart of this discussion, instead I think its the reference to those from a certain part of the world.

        I myself am from India and whats more I live in Bangalore. I get onto Perl monks looking for interesting bits of code and discussions and repeatedly come across posts such as this one - Its not a pleasant experience to say the least.

        Regarding those who do outsourced jobs, it must be noted that these people work 10 hours a day 6 days a week. Some of the "big" outsourcing companies, which are sought-after, pay - what is considered a really good salary - of about Rs 25,000 per month. About 514$.

        If one does the math you will notice that that comes down to about 2$ an hour. I should also add that people need 16 years of educations (equivalent to an American UG?) to get such jobs.

        Most of us are not proud of this. Those, unfortunate enough to be forced to do such jobs are not really proud of it either.

        In addition to this a lot of those who get these jobs are first generation learners - whose parents have never been able to read. They do the first 12 years of their education in their naitive language and are then forced to go through the subsequent 4 years in English - The presure of doing this after ones parents have put in all their money into their education often leads to suicides.

        Now - with this in mind - do you think that all of these people are capable of RTFM? Some of them are rude, some of the questions are not the best, some of the questions are asked for potentially unethical reasons - but such posts regularly end up in the worst nodes after the OP being told that he/she is an idiot.

        Thats fine. But does a whole section of the world have to get thrashed for this? Maybe not.

        I am with you on the question of answering interview / homework questions. I myself go through tons of CVs and have a whole bunch of people take tests and often find answers that are not original. I take, on an average, about a hundred tests a month. I find it nearly impossible to come up with that many new questions. Maybe thats a shortcoming but I find that most people who dont know their stuff but have copied it off someplace can easily identified in subsequent interview rounds.

        Basically - the concern regarding interview/homework questions is shared. If the place of origin can be left out - that will be greatly appreciated.

      Why am I posting this as anonymous: Because I still like this site and want to be a part of it and know that if I don't post as anonymous I will most certainly stop using this site.

      I wish you had posted this as yourself, because I really want to upvote YOU for saying this! And please don't stop using this site - feel free to express such well thought out opinions in your own name!

      The poster's nationality is (typically) readily determined by their username and/or the particular style of English they write in

      Actually, I think that this is the equivalent of saying : "Oh you can always spot the gays. They're the ones in sequins or leather."... thus mischaracterising 95% of the gay community. As a member of that community, I strongly object to being the subject of such sweeping generalisations.

      Good work for speaking up, anonymous!

        "I wish you had posted this as yourself, because I really want to upvote YOU for saying this! And please don't stop using this site - feel free to express such well thought out opinions in your own name! "

        ++ Clint, That goes for me too.

        "They're the ones in sequins or leather."... thus mischaracterising 95%
        FWIW, living in close proximity to certain places (say The Castro) fosters a skewed perspective :) and such generalizations appear more valid around Halloween and similar dates :)
Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by Jenda (Abbot) on Aug 30, 2009 at 08:28 UTC

    Companies that outsource to that part of world get both what they deserve and what they pay for. And whether we help a few clueless cheaters doesn't change a thing about that.

    Enoch was right!
    Enjoy the last years of Rome.

      Indeed. The sad thing is there are a few who think they are still saving tons of money. I remember one company that set up in Bangalore. Just about all work had to be redone in the States.

      However, the execs said it was the best move they ever did!

      Hmmm? Maybe we can outsource the execs?

        The execs ARE saving a lot of money. On their private accounts. The salary of a manager is almost proportional to the number of his/her subordinates. There's nothing better than a bunch of cheap expendable workers somewhere far off in this regard.

        Enoch was right!
        Enjoy the last years of Rome.

Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by Bloodnok (Vicar) on Aug 30, 2009 at 01:17 UTC

    Methinx I must be approaching this interview/job thing wrong (or I'm practicing it in the wrong place) - in the many interviews I've attended over the years, I've yet to be asked the same question twice, or more ... so if I get asked a question to which I don't know the answer and it's of interest, I research the answer solely for my self-edification & benefit i.e. with minimal, if any, expectation of having to answer the same question in the same circumstances.

    Aside from any questions about such strategems WRT cheating any prospective employer, I submit that the only people being cheated are the candidates themselves!! Worse still, the paucity of the incumbent inevitably resulting from such interview processes can, for those of us unfortunate enough to earn a living at this game, only serve to bring the profession down.

    A user level that continues to overstate my experience :-))
Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by davies (Parson) on Aug 31, 2009 at 15:47 UTC

    There's another possibility that this thread seems not to have considered so far. What if it's the would-be interviewer posting? I find it easy to imagine a headhunting firm being asked to find Perl coders, agreeing without the least knowledge of Perl, gargling for questions and then trying to get answers from the enlightened before throwing them at interviewees. I find it much harder to imagine an interviewee being given time to come back with an answer, although I can imagine someone reacting to being stumped by an interview question by posting here.


    John Davies

      I think if you look at the questions, you can't help but conclude that the person who *wrote* the questions knows some Perl. My guess, based on seeing similar things in other contexts, is that the intent is to design questions where the question and answer can be circulated to managers together, so that the person asking the question can have a "cheat sheet" to verify answers in domains where their knowledge is lacking. The question list that's publicly available gets produced as an artifact when interviewees come back and report what they were asked to their fellows.

      I think (and some of the other people who've posted in this thread may have more insight) that this may be a sign that the people interviewing for these jobs don't generally view themselves as in direct competition with one another for a small number of jobs, but rather more like classmates trying to pass the same examination--in which case the creation of a shared knowledge base of "answers to the test questions" is a fairly common, and understandable, event--but not a defensible one.

Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by Zen (Deacon) on Sep 10, 2009 at 13:33 UTC
    Are you suggesting India doesn't have enough highly trained programmers, OP? This is ignorance and stinks of nationalism and prejudice. Let me enlighten you.

    India has a very large, competitive population as well as some of the top educational opportunities in the world. The discount pricing from the American perspective is not about skill; it's about economics. I work with Indian programmers who are quite talented, extremely skilled, and get paid less because of where they live, not what they can do.

    As far as the power to google answers, forcing folks to know everything already isn't realistic. There are a lot of weak programmers out there; it is the employers job to weed them out with an exam that matches the job description. Blaming it on perlmonks is just silly when the real issue is factory-style testing. I actually appreciate working with folks that know how to find answers (in an appropriate way) more than I appreciate snobby know-it-alls suffering from a bad case of hubris.

      As far as "snobby know-it-alls", there's a cookware-relateded metaphor that leaps to mind.

      If you'd actually paid attention to what I've said here, including my clarifying replies, you'd have seen that I place the primary blame on employers. Further, I never denied (and I *wouldn't* deny) that there are many skilled programmers and testers in India. However, it's unreasonable, and contra the facts of the situation, for you to claim that there isn't an obvious thread connecting a substantial percentage of the recent rash of repetitive, badly phrased, poorly directed questions. I don't blame it on PerlMonks--but I think answering these questions without open eyes is harmful in a number of ways. Providing a book-like answer for these questions is not the best kind of help.

      The sole purpose of this reply is to express my disagreements with Zen's fanciful reading of my post for the benefit of anyone else who happens by here--I have no intention of a running argument with someone who's repeatedly, in a variety of contexts, demonstrated an ability to overlook the obvious, and routinely infer nefarious motives where none exist.

      Are you suggesting India doesn't have enough highly trained programmers, OP?

      No he is not! Stop casting aspersions.

      He is letting us know that the rash of guys from the same region, same city , some even from the same company, who've been visiting lately asking the same questions (and even created duplicate accounts), who don't respond to replies, don't follow links, ignore word answer, ignore all answers they cannot cut and paste into their program (or test)....

      are all trying to get test answers. I didn't know. I am glad for this explanation as it will stop me from wasting my time trying to engage these guys when they're busy taking a test.

        I quote the OP, "See, in certain countries that are popular outsourcing destinations, not only don't they have enough highly-trained programmers, they don't have enough highly-trained managers either"

        The OP didn't suggest it- the OP flatly stated it! Thanks "anonymous."
Re: Stop with the interview questions already
by ZlR (Chaplain) on Apr 02, 2010 at 00:33 UTC
    Woah that "perlmonks vs india" thread sure has a lot of flame (and by that i mean self righteous pricks).

    So let it be clear : as much as i hate outsourcing, in the same way i hate that all my friggin' clothes are made in vietnam and travel the whole fckn' globe before they reach me ...

    Well, as much as i hate that, i'll always take a great pleasure to help a fellow coder, be he indian or whatever.

    And EVEN MORE if he plans to CHEAT A FRIGGIN TEST !!!

    That's called "sitting on the right side of the fence", bitches.

Log In?

What's my password?
Create A New User
Node Status?
node history
Node Type: perlmeditation [id://792088]
Approved by Old_Gray_Bear
and all is quiet...

How do I use this? | Other CB clients
Other Users?
Others lurking in the Monastery: (4)
As of 2018-05-26 18:54 GMT
Find Nodes?
    Voting Booth?