Scott Hanselman

Hanselminutes Podcast 53 - Hiring and Interviewing Engineers

March 02, 2007 Comment on this post [9] Posted in Podcast | Programming
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My fifty-third podcast is up. In the ridiculous wake of FizzBuzz, we talk about more practical techniques for interviewing engineers, and Scott interviews Carl for a job as a programmer.

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Links from the Show

Using FizzBuzz to Find Developers who Grok Coding (mgx)
Don't Overthink FizzBuzz (mh0)
On Interviewing Programmers (mh3)
Why Can't Programmers.. Program? (mgy)
Programming Jokes compiled by Raganwald (mh1)
The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing (version 3.0) (mh4)
You Can't Teach Height - Measuring Programmer Competence via FizzBuzz (mgz)
What Great .NET Developers Ought To Know (More .NET Interview Questions) (mh2)

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Telerik is a new sponsor. Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate about Telerik is their commitment to completeness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

  • The basic MP3 feed is here, and the iPod friendly one is here. There's a number of other ways you can get it (streaming, straight download, etc) that are all up on the site just below the fold. I use iTunes, myself, to listen to most podcasts, but I also use FeedDemon and it's built in support.
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Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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March 02, 2007 19:55
In the best interview I have ever been involved with, there was a paired programming task where a relatively obscure task was presented that the applicant is forced to ask questions to be able to solve. Whenever the candidate is stuck they feel free to ask questions. If the applicant doesn't know something, the interviewer shows them how (enhancing the "team" focus). This is a great experience because nobody feels dumb (maybe the interviewer doesn't have an answer and goes to ask someone else) and, if there are things that the applicant doesn't know, they get the opportunity to learn from the interviewer. It leaves everyone with a good taste in their mouth and, even if the applicant doesn't get the job, they have left learning something new.
March 03, 2007 2:16
Another fun and useful podcast! Something else we used to do was ask a prospective dev to do some simple coding tasks on a laptop with some "traps" set on it (IIS scriptmap set to wrong Fx version, SQL Server service disabled, missing user privs on a directory, etc) and see how well they really understood the entire path and if they were able to get things going.

Apologies, but it's armchair QB time on the ASP/ASP.NET Fx version race:

An ISAPI filter seems like an awfully big hammer for that problem. Why not just create a simple unmanaged COM object (ATL, could even be VB6) to call CorBindToRuntimeEx for 1.1, and call it from global.asa's Application_OnStart handler? That way you don't need to do any special IIS config, just register the object (since there were obviously others being registered anyway)...

Sorry- COM interop was a big part of my life for a very long time (but not at my new job!)

March 03, 2007 2:38
That's a great idea! We found the ISAPI filter was easy to do, and could be added separate from the application, no COM registration, but you're right, that's a perfectly valid alternate solution.
March 03, 2007 11:07
I've never done any classic ASP but my solution would be to redirect from the ASP page to an ASP.NET 1.1 helper page before loading the COM dll.
Then redirect back to the ASP page from the ASP.NET page and check a global flag to determine if it is the first time the page has loaded.

What do people think of group interviews? The interview for my first job was a group interview with 3 other candidates.
We had to pair off and ask each other questions. Then we had to introduce the other person to everyone else.
Definitely an alternative way of interviewing people but I guess they were looking at communications skill, team skill etc.
March 06, 2007 0:47
This felt like a possible alternative solution to the ASP/ASP.Net framework version problem (aka this week's FizzBuzz!):

With IIS 6.0 you can configure wildcard mapping, and set ASP.Net to run before and after all requests to the application. You set which version of the framework, so it looks like it fits your needs, without writing code.

Good show - an enjoyable summary of all the FizzBuzz action from last week.
March 06, 2007 4:49
nice show... Carl was brave fielding your technical question like that...

he must be deaf or something though cause I was jumping up and down shouting "ISAPI dll! ISAPI dll!!!" Man, it's so rare that i know something clever, but if feels so good when i do! I got to do that more often.

Meanwhile I still can't solve that tricky fizzbuzz puzzle. My version just prints "Pffttt" and then blue screens.

March 06, 2007 5:54
Scott -- Would you have hired Carl based on that interview? This is why I haven't applied at Corillian . . . yet.
March 06, 2007 11:43
Troy - An interview here is between 4 and 8 hours, that was just one question, so it wasn't nearly enough to decide to hire Carl or not.
March 09, 2007 23:50
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.