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[XP] Re: Pairing during interviews?

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  • Ken Boucher
    ... Yes, but usually over money. If you base your salary expectations on the cost of living in San Francisco, well, there s a reason were in Omaha. You can buy
    Message 1 of 8 , Jul 1, 2004
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      > Do any candidates ever reject the offer after such a grueling
      > experience?

      Yes, but usually over money. If you base your salary expectations on
      the cost of living in San Francisco, well, there's a reason were in
      Omaha. You can buy a house in Omaha for the cost of an apartment in
      San Francisco.

      The majority of the people who decide not to interview are the ones
      who say "Omaha? You want me to relocate to Omaha? Bwahahaha."

      We try to be very clear in the preliminary phone interview about what
      we're looking for, what we expect, and what we're about. We're not
      going to fly someone out and waste their time and ours unless all of
      us (the person included) think this is a good idea.
    • Eric Crampton
      ... I guess I m one of those strange people who would say, Ohama? Great! Personally, I would be really happy to be interviewed in the manner that Ken
      Message 2 of 8 , Jul 1, 2004
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        On Thu, 2004-07-01 at 02:57, Ken Boucher wrote:
        > The majority of the people who decide not to interview are the ones
        > who say "Omaha? You want me to relocate to Omaha? Bwahahaha."

        I guess I'm one of those strange people who would say, "Ohama? Great!"

        Personally, I would be really happy to be interviewed in the manner that
        Ken describes. When I'm in the interviewee position, it's really hard to
        know how their development process works, the general "code
        cleanliness", how their test coverage looks, and what kinds of hurdles
        they have in their daily development (managerial? build times too long?
        undocumented code? stale code? untestable code? source code control?
        requirements problems? etc.). Anything I can do as an interviewee to
        learn these things is great.

        I think I've often asked *too many* questions as the interviewee trying
        to glean this information from a potential employer. If I can't get that
        information I want about how they do their jobs, then I won't accept the
        job.

        Having the opportunity to actually *code* with the people I'd be working
        with on a daily basis would be perfect, grueling or not!

        --Eric
      • Ken Boucher
        ... Great! If you smalltalk and you re interested, send a resume my way.
        Message 3 of 8 , Jul 1, 2004
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          > I guess I'm one of those strange people who would say, "Ohama?
          Great!"

          If you smalltalk and you're interested, send a resume my way.
        • Tony Nassar
          ... Wouldn t it be a relief to find out how they code? What their code looks like? What practices they actually follow? What they re *like*? This is the *only*
          Message 4 of 8 , Jul 5, 2004
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            > > Do any candidates ever reject the offer after such a grueling
            > > experience?

            Wouldn't it be a relief to find out how they code? What their code looks like? What practices they actually follow? What they're *like*? This is the *only* kind of interview I'd like to go through. Sure, I'd have to skip work for a day, but do I really want a better job or don't I?

            After struggling for a year to find a job near San Francisco, and having to suffer through quizzes, puzzles ("A king had three sons..."), technical "Gotcha!" questions, etc., I know whereof I speak. In the future I will walk out on a prospective employer if all the interviewers resort to these tactics, because <EM>there is no way to tell if I'd actually want to work there</EM>, no way to tell if they write good code (not individually, which doesn't count, but collectively), and no way to tell if I'd write good code if I went to work there.
          • Ken Boucher
            ... Even though it s off topic, I feel I need to talk a bit about these tactics, since I ve now been on the other side of the hiring table a few too many
            Message 5 of 8 , Jul 5, 2004
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              --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Tony Nassar
              <tony.nassar@o...> wrote:
              > having to suffer through quizzes, puzzles ("A king had three
              > sons..."), technical "Gotcha!" questions, etc., I know whereof I
              > speak. In the future I will walk out on a prospective employer if
              > all the interviewers resort to these tactics, because <EM>there is
              > no way to tell if I'd actually want to work there</EM>, no way to
              > tell if they write good code (not individually, which doesn't
              > count, but collectively), and no way to tell if I'd write good code
              > if I went to work there.

              Even though it's off topic, I feel I need to talk a bit about these
              tactics, since I've now been on the other side of the hiring table a
              few too many times.

              For the most part, the programmers our organization interviews are
              not in competition with anyone else. This may change, as all things
              may, but really each person is running pretty much on their own
              merits. We've occasionally matched canidates with jobs other than the
              ones they knew about when they were a fit for one thing but not a fit
              for the job they applied for.

              But here's a quick run down of some of the things that happen and
              what this means to someone looking for a job.

              1) The resume slush pile:
              Do not make a mistake on your resume. A resume very rarely convinces
              any one to hire you. What a resume really does is give someone a
              reason to end the interview process right then and there. We need
              X,Y, and Z. Does the resume clearly indicate they have X,Y,and Z?
              Good. Are there any mistakes or anything we don't like about the
              resume? The resume is an indicator of the best work we can expect out
              of a canidate. If the best work someone can do includes a bunch of
              mistakes, well, we have other resumes and a limited amount of time.
              So really the resume isn't a "who do we include?" process. It's
              really a "who do we throw out?" process. Write and have your resume
              reviewed accordingly.

              2) The phone interview.
              The phone interview serves one purpose only. We don't want to waste
              their time and our time and everyone else's money to fly someone in
              unless we think they're a good fit. So we want to make sure the
              person knows what we're about, we know they know their stuff, we know
              that they can communicate, and we all have a happy feeling about
              this.
              The trick questions above can come into play here. We've done samurai
              java and smalltalk interviews complete with trick questions, obscure
              details, and everything else. Why? Because there aren't a lot of
              things you can find out from a phone conversation. You can get a good
              feel for someone's knowledge, someone's ability to relax, and
              someone's ability to say the words "I don't know". You can also get a
              feel for how strong someone's personality is. People who bend too far
              or can't bend at all may not be a good fit for the organization. So
              you do what you can because phone interviews are cheap and the next
              step isn't. Once again, it's a weed-out process.

              3) Onsite.
              A lot of things happen when you're onsite for the day. Everyone has
              different experiences in hiring practices and in a day you're going
              to see a lot of them. You may find yourself pairing with the shop's
              most abrasive programmer. You may find yourself discussing obscure
              forms of music. You may wonder why everyone is wearing a wig. You may
              ask yourself what the heck these people are even saying because the
              language is peppered with terms and acronyms that you've never heard
              before. You might wonder why someone just banged the gong
              (literally). Some of this is simply business as normal and other
              times it's done just to see how you react.

              Does that last bit sound strange? Read
              http://militera.lib.ru/research/suvorov6/04.html and learn the lesson
              of the towel. Think about it. And then think about all the stange
              customs a group of people who work as closely together as a agile
              shop has to might create.

              I honestly belive we now hire people as much for the person they are
              as much as for the skills they have. After all, the right person can
              learn the skills as they need to. Changing a personality on the other
              hand is much more difficult.
            • Ron Jeffries
              ... Fascinating story! Thanks! Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com I m not bad, I m just drawn that way. -- Jessica Rabbit
              Message 6 of 8 , Jul 5, 2004
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                On Monday, July 5, 2004, at 11:33:27 AM, Ken Boucher wrote:

                > Does that last bit sound strange? Read
                > http://militera.lib.ru/research/suvorov6/04.html and learn the lesson
                > of the towel. Think about it. And then think about all the stange
                > customs a group of people who work as closely together as a agile
                > shop has to might create.

                Fascinating story! Thanks!

                Ron Jeffries
                www.XProgramming.com
                I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way. -- Jessica Rabbit
              • Ilja Preuss
                BTW, I just read a very interesting paper on Extreme Interviewing , which included a lot of PP:
                Message 7 of 8 , Jul 7, 2004
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                  BTW, I just read a very interesting paper on "Extreme Interviewing",
                  which included a lot of PP:

                  http://menloinstitute.com/freestuff/whitepapers/extremeinterviewing.htm

                  or

                  http://tinyurl.com/3c583

                  Cheers, Ilja
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