123 reputation
5
bio website
location Cambridge, United Kingdom
age
visits member for 3 years, 2 months
seen May 29 '13 at 16:13

May
16
comment How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
That is a good plan, Merlin. Pretty obvious in hindsight!
May
16
comment How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
"Why not bring them in" - I think that's the gold standard, but we originally introduced this to get more information to avoid unnecessarily bringing in candidates from distant places, which for some candidates is going to be a waste of (our) money and a waste of their time and ours. Or looked at another way, it allows us to let more candidates through the CV review and phone screen because we know that we're not going to waste up to a day of everyone's time as a result.
May
16
awarded  Commentator
May
16
awarded  Scholar
May
16
accepted How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
May
16
comment How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
I'm slightly conflicted about the not-completely-specified thing. The answers here make some good points and of course a complete spec would make "marking" easier. But I think that spotting and dealing with incomplete specifications is easily as important as being able to code something that has been well specified. What I'm looking for is not that they make the "right" assumptions, but that they've spotted the holes in the spec, thought about what the requirements should be, preferably documented and justified the decision and definitely stuck to the decision throughout their code.
May
16
comment How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
I think that to be fair to the candidate, I'm nearly always going to end up reading the code in some detail, so automated tests are of limited value. And since I'm doing this after the phone screen, it's not a bottle-neck in the process.
May
16
comment How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
Some of my colleagues seem a little shy about attempting it - I think perhaps they fear embarrassment if they "get it wrong".
May
16
comment How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
We ask the candidates when they'd like to attempt the problem and send them the problem description at some convenient time just before that. The clock only starts ticking when we send the problem.
May
2
awarded  Informed
May
2
comment How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
@Victor sure, I definitely expect to be able to compile it, and that's pretty much the first thing I do. I ask for standards conforming, portable C without external dependencies, so if I can't compile it, there's a problem. I intentionally don't spec the problem well enough to make a test suite feasible. I expect (and ask) the candidate to take the rough spec and make some sensible, documented assumptions. I check out their assumptions and code and do some simple manual testing. So far it has been very easy to find bugs and undocumented assumptions
May
2
comment How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
Thanks Frank. I take the point that it would be beneficial to be more explicit about the decision criteria in the problem statement ("correct," "reasonably efficient," "understandable"). However, I don't want to go too far with this. For example, I expect the code to handle error conditions, such as missing arguments and files, or internal buffer sizes being exceeded - but I'd like the candidate to do that without prompting.
May
2
asked How should I assess answers to the programming assignment I use for hiring
Mar
21
awarded  Student
Mar
7
comment What are the restrictions on derived works of EPL licensed software?
Thanks ihkwot. I was being slightly disingenuous about consulting a lawyer. I don't believe that the in-house lawyers I have access to really understand software sufficiently to give me a useful answer. I'd prefer to gain an understanding of the issues myself and then write these requirements explicitly into the contract.
Mar
6
asked What are the restrictions on derived works of EPL licensed software?
Aug
22
comment What is the minimum subset of best/well-known practices in software development for a solo programmer?
Presuming you write useful check-in comments, it also gives you a great way of going back in time to answer the question "What was I thinking when I wrote this pile of junk?"
Apr
29
comment Will taking a year out reduce my employability
I'm hiring at the moment. Candidates who demonstrate that they really care about programming by doing it in their spare time definitely get bonus points. But they've got to be able to talk convincingly about what they've been doing to prove they've actually done it.
Feb
10
awarded  Supporter