brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
Is it still in vogue for US tech companies to ask quantitative estimation/implausible-problem questions like "how many phone booths/piano tuners are there in Manhattan?" in hiring interviews, particularly for programming-related jobs? Fog Creek asked me one of those in 2005. There was even a book, How Would You Move Mount Fuji?: Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle -- How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers.* How many companies are still into that?**

I ask because I came up with a couple you could use, maybe for a digital humanities kind of position:

  1. How many people, throughout history, have actually been named "Flee-From-Sin"? I feel like you see this as a jokey Puritan first name in books like Good Omens or the Baroque Cycle, but was it a name that some non-negligible number of people actually had?
  2. Out of all the people currently within New York City limits, have more of them written a sonnet or a dating profile? What's the ratio?



* That's right, two subtitles. That's how you know you're getting a lot for your $16.00 MSRP.

** It's hard to tell these things sometimes even if you listen to lots of people discuss hiring and recruiting. "Five Worlds" and its decade-later ramifications apply to work culture, not just software development methodology. Stripe's engineering interview aims to "simulate the engineering work you'd do day-to-day" (link via Julia Evans) so I think you can expect your interviewer won't show up wearing a question-mark costume and screeching, "Riddle me this, Batman!" This software engineer, who's just been through scads of hiring interviews, doesn't mention puzzle questions. This level of detail ain't exactly on the "How to Become a Computer Programmer" page in the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Department of Labor -- but then again we already knew that the assessment vacuum in software engineering skills is a huge problem.

[Cross-posted to Cogito, Ergo Sumana. I'm doing this just now for new Dreamwidth followers, but usually I don't cross-post from there to here; check out [syndicated profile] sumana_feed if you want to follow that blog.]

off-topic, intro

Date: 2017-04-17 04:11 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ewt
Hello -- thank you for this post, which was interesting to think about, I have subscribed to the feed and will see how I get on with it.

I added you because you seemed smart, interesting and kind in your comments on a community we are both in.

Date: 2017-04-17 04:53 pm (UTC)
princessofburundi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] princessofburundi
I definitely think that more New Yorkers have written dating profiles than sonnets. And I'm glad that I'll never have to go to a tech company interview, if that's the sort of questions that get asked! What was your answer?

Date: 2017-04-17 06:59 pm (UTC)
commodorified: a capital m, in fancy type, on a coloured background (Default)
From: [personal profile] commodorified
I would not move Mt Fuji. Mt Fuji is perfectly fine where it is and moving it would destroy vulnerable flora and fauna.

Date: 2017-04-17 09:19 pm (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rachelmanija
I was once asked to teach the interviewers how to boil water. I made use of a dry-erase board and diagrams, and they stopped me before I'd gotten past step two of five.

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