Interviewing and feelings

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    Banned nickname_changed's Avatar
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    Interviewing and feelings

    The company I work for are interviewing for a senior C# developer position. Our programming team is small, 2 people (will be 3 when we find the right person), and management just said we can do the interviews ourselves and pick whoever suits us.

    So I got to sit in on an interview today (first time for me being on the opposite side of the table). The candidate was the nicest guy I've ever met. He's been programming for 14+ years and seems to know his C++ really well, but he's not too up to speed on C#, though he seemed the type that could pick it up pretty fast. However, he was also very very nervous. When asked of his avaliability, he said he was on 4 weeks notice from the company he currently works for.

    Now the guy was very very nice, and he seemed pretty smart. He was also ~ 40ish I think, and I imagine he has a wife, a mortgage and probably children (then again, he's a C++ programmer so maybe not :P). But his lack of skills with C# was a concern to me, especially since its only a 6 month contract and we really need someone fast, we might not have time for him to brush up.

    If we interview someone else with great C# skills, maybe an MVP or something, they'll probably be better suited to the job (assuming all else is equal). Maybe they'll be a confident, crash-hot young programmer, with no cares and a zillion other job offers.

    Who would you give the job to? I try to think of the companies best interests, but its hard not to let personal feelings get in the way.

    I'm glad I'm not the one making the end decision.

  2. #2
    the hat of redundancy hat nvoigt's Avatar
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    If you had a full time, unlimited position, then this would be a tough decision. As you have a job at hand that needs someone full throttle for 6 months only ( not a lot of time to get used to something ) the decision is unfair but easy. Take a C# guy if you can get one.
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    It's full of stars adrianxw's Avatar
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    Absolutely agree with nv, in a six month period, you need someone that hits the floor running. It is even more important in a small team, if you have a learner around, he will be distracting the rest of the team with questions, that drags the productivity of the whole side down.

    You don't have to hire a hot head, you want someone with exactly the right skills, and a team player. Should not be too difficult.

    Really nice, nervous 40 something with a family applying for a six month contract sounds a little odd. Most habitual contractors are self confident and assured.
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    5|-|1+|-|34|) ober's Avatar
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    I agree with the others, but I don't think his nervousness should factor into it. Some people are just naturally nervous for those types of things. My wife is very competent and very confident at what she does, but she gets very nervous when it comes to interviews. I obviously don't know how she's done in them, but she always says she fumbles and does poorly. But I wanted to ring some necks last summer when she was trying to find something, because she's extremely motivated, professional, and intelligent... yet a few places passed her over (although it could have been a lack of experience thing as well).

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    You should give the job to who's best at the job. It's not your job as an employer to worry about his wife and children etc. That said, it also depends on which role he's going to fulfill. If he's going to be programming a lot of C# specific library code, then maybe not knowing C# well is a major downside. On the other hand, if he's going to be programming a lot of the code using the base C# language, then the gaps in his C# knowledge shouldn't matter as much.

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    Apparently the guys never contracted before, his first time. You guys are right though, we have to hire the best person for the job.

    His nervousness won't factor into the decision making, its natural and I would probably have been nervous too. It did get me wondering about his life though. But I guess it's not my place to wonder, nor to care really.

    I'd hate to work for a recruitment agency. I'd hate to think someone was out on the street starving because I didn't work hard for them. Programming is so much easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stovellp
    I'd hate to work for a recruitment agency. I'd hate to think someone was out on the street starving because I didn't work hard for them. Programming is so much easier.
    That's probably why there's like 8 times as many recruitment agencies in countries/states with social welfare systems. "You don't have to work, buuuuuuuuuuuuut..."

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    pronounced 'fib' FillYourBrain's Avatar
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    an experienced programmer should be able to do well in any language. But..... a short contract doesn't leave a lot of time for learning. I agree that if you can get a C# guy, you're better off. However, this guy should work out if he's a real programmer. Nobody should be that narrow to only be good at one language.
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    Thats true. He does have a modest knowledge of C#, knew a few things pretty easily and a lot carried over from his C++ experience (7 or so years of it) so I'm sure he could pick it up. But he's not what you'd consider a "guru" with it. For the price we're paying, a guru is what we need. Even if he was a C++ guru, 6 months as you said doesn't leave a lot of time. Theres a chance the contract will be extended possibly to full time, but I dunno.

    I really shouldn't discuss such things publicly anyway.

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    Registered User major_small's Avatar
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    I agree with pretty much everybody else here... but since you mention guru, I take it one step further... how good is his knowledge of computer science? do you need somebody who knows the ins and outs of C#, or somebody who can give your team more/better algorithms? you can get somebody who knows alot about C# but brings no new ideas to the table, or you can get somebody who knows alot about comp sci, but would need your help coding it. the latter would increase knowledge and learning on both sides of the deal.

    The ideal case is to find somebody who's both great at C# and also has a deep understanding the underlying sciences of the language, while at the same time isn't too egotistical to think he's right all the time.
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    5|-|1+|-|34|) ober's Avatar
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    >>The ideal case is to find somebody who's both great at C# and also has a deep understanding the underlying sciences of the language, while at the same time isn't too egotistical to think he's right all the time.

    That's an oxymoron (for lack of a better word) with coders

  12. #12
    It's full of stars adrianxw's Avatar
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    That changes with age Ober.

    A 40+ person who is a happy coder, would be a better choice for a six month programming contract than some young, ambitious, out to make a name whizz kid.

    The older person has seen before the results of the employment of the younger, because he has been called in to sort the mess out. Personal experience.

    Still, a six month C# contract in a team that size requires a C#/ OS/ DB compatible person.

    Possibilities of full time or extensions adjust things, but we are not privvy to sufficient detail to offer definitive advice. At this time, look for a six month C# programmer.

    If at the end of the six months his/her contribution has had above cost earnings to the business - then negotiate.
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  13. #13
    Registered User major_small's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ober
    >>The ideal case is to find somebody who's both great at C# and also has a deep understanding the underlying sciences of the language, while at the same time isn't too egotistical to think he's right all the time.

    That's an oxymoron (for lack of a better word) with coders
    you missed the word ideal =P

    how about this:
    • Good with a language
    • deep understanding of the science behind any language
    • not an elitist
    pick any two
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  14. #14
    Bob Dole for '08 B0bDole's Avatar
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    the only problem with newly graduated students is that they were never taught how to program in teams. They do horrible things such as:
    - Comment code after it's written
    - Seek help on own program but never help others
    - Use to working by themselves
    - and most geek students have no social skills anyways
    Hmm

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by B0bDole
    - Comment code after it's written
    What? Are you supposed to comment code before it's written?!!?!!111?
    Quote Originally Posted by B0bDole
    - and most geek students have no social skills anyways
    You take that back! My pet rock loves me...

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