|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
Stop with the interview questions alreadyby ssandv (Hermit)
|on Aug 29, 2009 at 17:13 UTC||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:
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.