If Program I Can't, Programmer Am I?

time to read 3 min | 497 words

Jeff Atwood has posted about the difficulities of some so-called programmers to program. The intersting facts are here. An extremely simple task is given, and quite a bit of people simply can't handle it, or take an undue amount of time to solve it.

A while ago I posted all sort of interesting questions that I would not put in interviews, it was the sort of interview questions from hell. I did a lot of interviews since then, and I have gotten sick of the level of people that I meet.

My current favoriate question is to give them this code:

public class Program
   public static void Main(string[] args)
    //print the input string in reverse

And ask them to solve it. It has gotten to the point that this is literally the first thing that I would ask a candidate to do. I am not picky, I would accept a solution in any imperative langauge except Ook#. And quite a bit of them simply can't do it. I am usually interviewing people that are supposed to have two years or more of experiance building applications in .Net. And they simply can't do it.

Let me tell you how vicious how I am with this horrible question, I give them a laptop (mine, actually) loaded with Visual Studio + ReSharper, full access to the net (and yes, that include Google), and they still can't do it. In one particular case, I watch the candidate go to google, skip the first result that was titled "Reversing a String in C#" and go directly to a code sample in C(!). He then spent the next five minutes shocking me by trying to get it to compile.

I can think of at least five different ways of doing it, depending on whatever you know that string can be iterated or that it has an indexer. I would expect that even if you didn't know either about string, you would realize that you can use Substring() to do it in a horribly inefficent way.

I can accept people with lack of knowledge, I can accept newbies (no prejustice is good), but I can't accept someone who can't program.