|Don't ask to ask, just ask|
Uh huh. I was a regular subscriber to “f**kedcompany.com” in the late 1990's. (It was a parody of fastcompany.com and much better. “All that money,” flowing around like water, but companies were failing so hard and so fast that every day brought fresh news.
An awful lot of what they produced subsequently got lampooned, and rightly so, in “Web Sites That Suck,” which I think is on its third hilarious volume by now. None of them really had a ghost of a chance; their failures were a foregone conclusion. So, why did they attract so much well-intentioned money and how did they manage to go on for as long as they somehow did? I mean, I'm sure that lots of 'em were using Perl ...
Maybe the first question to ask in an interview is “do you know how to spell Joel?” “There are lots of books out there on good engineering practices: which ones do you use here, and how exactly do you apply them? Can you tell me anything more about them than their buzzwords?”
No matter how badly you need the job, you need to ask hard questions too. “Leave no stone unturned,” but you won't find gold coins under most stones. (It's mostly fungus.) If you find yourself stuck in a job that you hate, and you notice that you keep winding up in those kinds of jobs, part of the problem could well be you!
Maybe it's just because I've used so many languages over the years, but really I find that the language doesn't matter. I opine that it should not weigh heavily in your job-selection criteria. If they're cranking out crap and seem to be happy with it, shop elsewhere: such problems are systemic. You'll be caught-up in them for a time but won't change them. The company will always have cash problems and politics problems and so your job will never be stable. You can find better stones to turn.
In reply to Re^3: Have you heard about recent startups using Perl?