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Re: How to measure Perl skills?

by EdwardG (Vicar)
on Mar 23, 2004 at 14:59 UTC ( #339024=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to How to measure Perl skills?

These days I give applicants a written technical test BEFORE I invite them to an interview. That way

  • There is something tangible and technical to talk about during the interview
  • Inappropriate applicants don't consume much of my time
  • I get an idea about each applicant's coding style, attention to detail, approach to testing, etc, etc
  • Applicants gets a better idea of what tech skills we are looking for

I recently interviewed someone who did ok on the preliminary test, although one of her answers failed (badly) under some conditions. During the interview I demonstrated the faulty code and asked her to debug it on the spot. It was very enlightening.

I would not recommend this approach if you think personality is more important than technical aptitude.

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Re: Re: How to measure Perl skills?
by sfink (Deacon) on Mar 25, 2004 at 05:56 UTC
    I would not recommend this approach if you think personality is more important than technical aptitude.
    Then I think you may have partly misunderstood what I was saying in that node, because I think your approach is exactly in line with hiring for personality.

    Neither of us would hire somebody with an excellent personality but crappy technical skills. I just have two bars that people must be above -- one for technical skills, the other for personality. Which is the same for anyone. But I will not lower the personality bar one millimeter for a candidate with stellar technical skills. I can understand the temptation, but I think it's one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

    As for your pre-interview test, I think that many of the qualities you are looking for are highly driven by personality: coding style, attention to detail, and approach to testing. It's the prima donna types who code with an unnecessarily complicated style, who don't bother to make sure all the details are really going to work for the other people who have to use their code, and who leave what they regard as menial tasks (e.g., testing) to their coworkers. And personally, after a long day spent orking fifty head of cattle, the last thing I want to do is write tests for someone else's "clever" code that follows a slightly different API than we had agreed upon because he decided his way was better.

    At the moment, it also doesn't appear that our technical bar is too low. In fact, we've shot down all of the candidates for the position so far on technical grounds. OT: in fact, it appears difficult enough to find a good perl web apps developer that we're probably going to end up hiring a PHP, Java, or Python coder instead. Are Perl app developers really that scarce, or does our job posting just suck? Our recruiter claims that Perl is on the decline for web apps, and that PHP and Python are fast becoming the only real players. I didn't believe her at first, but now I'm wondering...

      Are Perl app developers really that scarce, or does our job posting just suck?

      I read the job post, and it doesn't seem too bad. If you want one comment, I did notice that it doesn't seem to offer telecommuting, nor does it mention where the job is located. Or if you do say either of those things, I guess it's easy to miss.

      I think there might be plenty of Perl developers out there, but not too many on the lookout for a new gig. If my experience is any guide, any shop that believes Perl is the right tool to use, as opposed to J2EE, .Net, or some other buzzword du jour, is probably a pretty enlightened place to work. I mean, your job actually looks really interesting, but I'm not going to apply for it because I'm really enjoying myself in my current spot. Could this job be better? Sure! Can I imagine better companies to work for? Yup! But the changes wouldn't be huge, and there are so many things to like here, that it's really a crap shoot whether I'd be any more satisfied.

      If you don't think this is true - if your experience does not suggest that Perl programers are happy where they are, because where they are is a good place - you should be applying for our job opening (oh, and sfink's, too, I guess). Shouldn't you?

      At risk of looking like an appeaser, I think we are now mostly in agreement. Your earlier comment of
      for a technical job I want communication and enthusiasm first and foremost
      rubbed against my comment of
      I want technical skills and aptitude first and foremost
      but I accept we both have a position less black and white than these statements would indicate prima facie.

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