May 11, 2011

Why The New Guy Can’t Code

Have you noticed why teams are so much harder to build these days? Here's part of the problem:

We’ve all lived the nightmare. A new developer shows up at work, and you try to be welcoming, but he1 can’t seem to get up to speed; the questions he asks reveal basic ignorance; and his work, when it finally emerges, is so kludgey that it ultimately must be rewritten from scratch by more competent people. And yet his interviewers—and/or the HR department, if your company has been infested by that bureaucratic parasite—swear that they only hire above-average/A-level/top-1% people.

Spot on. Most hiring practices are mostly out of sync with what people actually do. This is endemic; I have yet to see a hiring process that actually lifts above this.

I've no time to write on this now, but I do not understand why companies use such approaches when they have all the evidence in front of them that these practices are a large part of the problem.

Posted by iang at May 11, 2011 05:49 AM | TrackBack

How so very true! I was recently interviewed by the No 1 investment bank and was asked to write a program over the telephone to reverse a linked list. My mistake was the incredulous gasp before completing the task successfully so I was silently elided...

What was in the interviewers mind? I can't ever remember reversing a linked list in my 25 years of C programming - why would you want to turn a LIFO into a FIFO? Use the right structure in the first place.

Perhaps it's because I use the APR to do all the hard work for me in a portable, thread-safe and hardware efficient way. I wouldn't have the hubris to think I could write better a thread-safe list. Testing experienced candidates on basic programming concepts that you learn in programming 101 is demeaning and pointless.

It's not the first time I've met with the same idiocy at the same organisation so I've vowed never to darken their doorway again.

Posted by: Graeme Burnett at May 11, 2011 02:24 PM
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