[Phpwm] Interviews & technical competency

katherine at codepoets.co.uk katherine at codepoets.co.uk
Sat Mar 24 10:30:47 GMT 2007

Hi all,
On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 15:38:02 +0000, David Goodwin <david at codepoets.co.uk> wrote:
>> Does anyone know of or have access to any type of questions / informal
> test
>> which I may help as I would much prefer to take my Daughter to the Zoo
>> rather than coming up with a test
> This may help :
> http://del.icio.us/GingerDog/interview

It might be more helpful to explain how we used all this information in our recent round of interviews. 

The basic plan was that we interviewed all applicants that weren't entirely useless looking on their CV.  We did this over 2 days giving them a couple of hours each.  This was just question and answer stuff, which I reckon people are more comfortable with.

However, as we've been fooled by just talking to people at least once, (not with Paul I have to point out!) we decided that this year we were going to give a followup technical interview for our favourite 2 or 3 candidates.  Having narrowed it down to 2 we invited them to visit us for a whole day each and did the following tests:

4 simple functions, to be written in any language:
   1. Write a function / method that determines if a string starts with an upper case letter A-Z
   2. Write a function / method that determines the area of a circle, given the diameter
   3. Write a function / method that returns the sum of the values in a given array of numbers
   4. Write a function / method that returns the sum of the values in a nested array of numbers 

Pretty simple stuff, but the recursion one at the end caught our 2nd candidate out (bear in mind these are industrial year students)

We then gave them one of our programming exercises from our courses, where they had a basic site set up and had to implement the following features:

1. Simple display of information retrieved using a provided function (happens to be a menu but we just wanted it to be something in the oft-used array of associative arrays format)
2. Login/logout mechanism with changing menu item
3. Simple forms processing (add menu item)

Lastly, we gave them some enterprise rules for a system and got them to talk us through how they'd design a simple relational database with it.

If we were interviewing a more senior programmer we'd also throw in a security exercise

We think this worked really well as we could easily see where the candidates were slow or struggled, and how the communicated when they were not sure of requirements or how to proceed.  Perhaps for a more senior programmer you'd want to make the exercises more difficult, but this would make it easy to weed out the real bullshitters.

Hope this helps


> David.
> --
> David Goodwin
> [ david at codepoets dot co dot uk ]
> [ http://www.codepoets.co.uk       ]
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