Write me an app on paper…

Saw this on Rob Rohans blog. I have to say, I 100% agree with his outrage (irritation? Anger? annoyance?).

Yes, interviewing a coder is hard because the proof is in the puddin’ but the solution isn’t to ask them to write an app on paper, whiteboard, napkin, etc. It’s to learn about the person, are they a fit? Code is code, if you hire some one who sucks, let them go. The bigger issue in hiring, is finding the fit, the personality.

Ok, so this posting is a bit over the top, but when I was last looking for a job almost every single place had me write code either on the whiteboard, or on a piece of paper. Often times I refused to do it because I didn’t see the point in it, and when I asked what they were testing me on they often said something like, “to see if you can code.” If that were true, then the experiment is flawed from the get go. I rarely use a pen anymore, let alone write code on anything but a keyboard.

I’ve been there, recently. After doing the exercise, and hanging up the phone I went to my computer and worked up the code I had just written. The IDE helped me see a few things I had wrong, a function name here, using a cast instead of tostring(), etc. minor things, things I’m sure I was penalized for, but would have never been an issue because in the real world I’d have run it, seen the app not work and fixed my code, simple as that and the real programmers do it.

After that I decided to do what Rob did, I won’t be answering those questions any more. I’ve been coding a long time, talk to my peers, co-workers, past clients. I don’t code on a whiteboard at home (My Office) what would it show the potential employer besides my bad penmenship and penchant for getting dry erase marker all over me? I have tons of books, Amazon loves me, I can barely remember my cel phone number, I’m not even bothering to remember every function and param in Flex, CF, or any other language.

I’ve been on both sides of lots of interviews, I’ve never asked to see code, or have code written in front of me, I don’t care. A new hire will sink or swim, same as any job, if they can’t code they get let go. Simple. I’ve always been much more worried about whether I could sit next to some one without wanting to throttle them.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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