[Gllug] Jobs Sites and Universities [slightly off-topic]

Richard Jones rich at annexia.org
Thu Jul 1 08:19:42 UTC 2004

I went to Imperial College, which is one of the better universities
for CS, and it has to be said that many people graduated from there
with very little idea of how to program.  One of the final year
exercises is a team project; this was especially frustrating for me
because I was stuck with people who really had no clue how to use a
computer.  *But* you will also find star programmers coming out of
these places - these are mainly the people who learned how to program
on their own time between the lectures.

As ever, use a good interview process to separate out the wheat from
the chaff.  For starters, you *must* have a computer present and wired
up to a big projector, running Linux; give them a few exercises
(eg. "translate all the filenames in their directory into uppercase
using any method you wish" / "find the average file size across all
the files in these [recursive] subdirectories using any method").  The
computer is connected to a big screen to give the candidates a little
pressure, and so that we can observe how they go about the task
(eg. do they know where to go to find documentation for the tools they
are using?)

When I was hiring for my previous company using this method, it was
generally immediately obvious who had used a computer before, and who
had no clue.  The ratio was something like 1 in 10 with any idea at
all about how to use a computer beyond point-n-click.

My other good advice is to avoid people with PhDs like the plague.
Sorry if other people on this list have a PhD, but in my experience
these people are worse than bad programmers.  They're bad programmers
who think they're good programmers, and feel the need to reinvent the
wheel at every step.


Richard Jones. http://www.annexia.org/ http://www.j-london.com/
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