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Phone interview

by extremely (Priest)
on Oct 16, 2000 at 01:59 UTC ( #36837=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

A friend of mine just had to explain how to set up a module and how he would approach the code design of an example problem, over the phone! Of course, they called his cell while he was outside so he had to do it blind with no paper to work on or anything. Bleagh.

I've barely even spoke about perl out loud except to about three friends. How do you even prepare for that?

BTW this was supposed to be a response to another post =( My turn for hitting the wrong button, I wonder if I can change my answer to that poll? =)

$you = new YOU;
honk() if $you->love(perl)

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RE: Phone interview
by merlyn (Sage) on Oct 16, 2000 at 02:06 UTC
    You think that's bad... try explaining stuff in #perl when a few others are giving incomplete or inconsistent answers at the same time. Prepares you for any classroom situation. {grin}

    -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

RE: Phone interview
by cwest (Friar) on Oct 16, 2000 at 03:23 UTC
    Dude, I've been there.

    Picture this: Driving my Jeep ( a stick ) while talking on the Cell Phone in Rush Hour. What was I talking about?

    I was explaining Regular Expressions ( char by char ) for doing LaTeX to HTML parsing.

    The interview went on to setting up a database for a library of books to accomidate complex searching routines and moved into the SQL to do those complex queries.

    Over all it went pretty well, the guy wanted me to take the job but it wasn't stable enough for me.

    I have to say it's not that easy.

       I am a superhero.
A view from the other side...
by indigo (Scribe) on Oct 16, 2000 at 22:44 UTC
    As someone who gives Perl phone screens, I can tell you it is hard find good questions to ask over the phone. They have to be simple enough to be asked and answered verbally, but deep enough to see if they actually know anything.

    The question, as you have explained it, strikes me as a fairly reasonable one, not so different from many I ask myself. With so many web designers trying to fake their way into Perl programming positions (~%40 of my phone screens), questions like this that draw on experience, rather than what they booked up on last night, are invaluable. I wouldn't expect a particularly good design answer off the top of someone's head, but it is not unreasonable to expect something.

    Remember the purpose of an interview (or mine, at least) isn't to trip you up on things you don't know. It is to give you an oppurtunity to show what you do know. And for a good candidate, open ended questions like yours are pure gold.
      With so many web designers trying to fake their way into Perl programming positions (~%40 of my phone screens)

      As a web designer* trying to transition to Perl programming, I'm curious at what sends warning signals to you.

      *(Of course, I consider myself a Perl programmer who writes CGI scripts and knows HTML, but that's still web design :) )

        You should probably refer to yourself using the non-perjorative web programmer. When I hear web designer, it conjures up images of high school kids and MS FrontPage.

        That distinction is important, because programming ability is the big thing I am looking for. Many web designers will tweak cut and paste code, without ever venturing forth from elementary Nothing wrong with this, if it gets the job done. Just make sure it doesn't show up on your resume as a Senior Perl Programmer.

        After a year of phone screens and interviews, I have in my arsenal a question that weeds out %90 of the web wannabe's:
        What is a hash?
        Answer that quickly, correctly, and well, and you skip ahead to the Lightning Round.
RE: Phone interview
by geektron (Curate) on Oct 16, 2000 at 21:55 UTC
    that's actually not so bad. the interviewer was asking theory and procedure questions, not 'how would you write a regex for LaTeX to HTML parsing?' (god, i thought i asked bad questions!)

    there's really no way to prepare, unless you're going to get a round of phone interviews, and you can brush up on the weaknesses that the first interviewer uncovered.

    phone interviews, at least the way my company uses them, are just quick screens ( ~ 20 minutes ) to see how extensive someone's perl knowledge is. i ask questions about OO-perl ( and look for textbook answers - that at least shows that someone has read about it, if not worked with it), namespaces, use vs. require, module use ( this question does show a lot about coding style), and similar theory-based questions. and they seem to work just fine.

RE: Phone interview
by adamsj (Hermit) on Oct 20, 2000 at 21:13 UTC
    I love doing interviews like this! Of course, it shows off my advantages and not my disadvantages, so I would like it. But, given the number of dangerous support calls I've done (cell phone while screaming through the Ozarks, conference call to fix a Y2k regex problem--why didn't I just telnet in and fix the thing instead of suffering through all that, anyway?), I think it's a fair test.

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