Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More advice on how to interview job candidates

Here’s another nice Tech Republic blog story, “10+ useless interview questions,” by Erik Eckel. In fact, there are 13 questions on this list (so maybe it’s not for Friday afternoon interviews). The link is here.

In each bad question, the author turns the concept of the question around and turns it into a more “positive” question.

Back in the 1970s, the most popular interview question for COBOL jobs was “what’s the difference between an ordinary SEARCH and a “SEARCH ALL”. Or you can turn that one around, too. Actually, a better question would be to ask about how to improve the runtime performance of a job that does a lot of random VSAM reads. (Sort first, and match sequentially). Back in those days, taken-for-granted structured programming techniques, taken for granted since the 80s, could be a real challenge for codes (such as the “balanced line method” for keeping sequential files in sync, which was a big issue it seemed on the New York Medicaid MMIS Project at Bradford National Corporation).

What I found in those days, when a company needed a lot of people quickly for a new contract, the interviewing tended to be quick and superficial. Times would change.

Picture: 100 Church Street, where Bradford ran its MMIS contract in the late 1970s (as Bradford Administrative Services). The area is near the WTC site but largely escaped damage on 9/11.

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