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Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by Stroker_Ace) | Reply
I thought UK courses didn't want to teach you programmoing languages, but theoretical stuff, so you came out still unable to program!?
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by DRW_Lyle) | Reply
Seems like I misunderstood what you wanted to convey in your earlier post.
I agree with you on this one :).
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by dskloet) | Reply
I still think it's more honest just to start thinking out loud. You want to know the way people think, right? I remember an interview question about the number of possible ways to do something. I immediately said: "I would guess it's the nth Fibonacci number. But let me think whether that's right." Do you think I should have skipped that part of my answer?


Your reply seems pretty reasonable. Thinking out loud is a good way to give the interviewer a window into your problem solving style. But I don't think it is about honesty -- pausing 1500 milliseconds before saying "I would guess it's the nth Fibonacci number" is no less dishonest then blurting out the reply immediately.

You take the second or two pause to mentally formulate your response, not to con the interviewer into thinking you are solving the problem.

Another way of looking at it: if a interviewer gives you a problem you already know the answer to, the best tactic is to tell them that you've seen that problem and that you know that answer. Odds are you'll win points from the interviewer for being straight up with him. Pausing and acting like you've never seen the problem before is dishonest and unethical.

Lyle Hayhurst
Chief Technology Officer
DRW Trading, LLC
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by codager) | Reply
I'm sorry but your description of interview seems like you should be manipulative and strategic during an interview. I guess DRW is looking for mature candidates and not the energetic ones.


Not at all! This year we picked up 5 college grads and 4 college interns. Most of our programmers are in their twenties or early thirties.

Look at it this way: you are interviewing with a firm that requires that you wear a jacket and tie to the interview. Is it manipulative or dishonest to comply with their request, even though you think suits are lame? (DRW doesn't require a suit for interview, btw.) Let's say a candidate's natural instinct in the interview is to kick his feet up on the table, put his arms behind your head, mumble, and avoid eye contact. Is it dishonest, strategic, or manipulative for the candidate to try to curb his natural instinct?

Like lots of other things in life, interviews are just another game, with a unique set of rules. The guidelines I gave are common-sense interviewing tips that you'll find in just about any guide to interviewing. I'm not suggesting that you be dishonest or manipulative -- just that you pay attention to your body language.

As has been oft-quoted, you won't get a second chance to make a first impression.

Lyle Hayhurst
Chief Technology Officer
DRW Trading, LLC
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by codager) | Reply
I don't think he's suggesting that at all. In an interview you only get one chance to make a good impression. You could be the smartest person in the world, but if you are sending signals that make the interviewer think that you would be difficult or unpleasant to work with in any way, you might not get the job. I think he is merely suggesting that you be conscious of the image you are projecting, and that there are things you can do to help prevent those negative impressions from forming in the interviewer's mind.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by DRW_Lyle) | Reply
I'm sorry but your description of interview seems like you should be manipulative and strategic during an interview. I guess DRW is looking for mature candidates and not the energetic ones.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by DRW_Lyle) | Reply
I still think it's more honest just to start thinking out loud. You want to know the way people think, right? I remember an interview question about the number of possible ways to do something. I immediately said: "I would guess it's the nth Fibonacci number. But let me think whether that's right." Do you think I should have skipped that part of my answer?

I might, of course, change my mind after I conducted some interviews myself.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by madking) | Reply
Yep, what madking said.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by kurtrips) | Reply
Honesty is always appropriate for an interview. I don't think he was advising you to look like you are thinking. The advice was to just be measured and deliberate about your answers. If the answer is completely obvious take a second to make sure that the obvious answer really is correct and to organize your thoughts so that you convey your answer appropriately.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by DRW_Lyle) | Reply
THINK before you respond to a question, even if you already know the answer.

I dont quite agree with that.

In one of my interviews, the interviewer asked me the terrifically banal "How would you swap 2 (reasonably small) integers without introducing a new variable."
I told him that i already knew the answer.
A few months later i was having lunch with him at office and he told me that he asked the question only to see how honest the candidate was.
I asked him how he could be sure if the person giving the correct answer was honest or not.
He said that the moment they heard the question, their eyes lit up and then they would make all sorts of thoughtful faces. Some even topped the whole thing up with the *aha* look right at the end. :)
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
That doesn't explain why the candidates couldn't code a simple algorithm in one hour.


Having proctored 1k+ technical interviews, I'm always surprised when candidates with CS degrees/x years of experience are unable to perform simple algorithms at the whiteboard (like, say, reverse a string in place in C or C++). Would you hire a magician for your kid's birthday party and not ask to see a few tricks first?

Smart companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon (and DRW :-) will ask you to do a fair amount of mental gymnastics in their interviews. Strangely, a lot of companies in the finance industry don't do this, but that is attributable to sloppy interviewing standards.

In any case, there's a core set of things that you should always do in interviews, technical stuff aside:

  • Keep your posture straight. No slumping.
  • Speak slowly and carefully. THINK before you respond to a question, even if you already know the answer. This will make you appear more measured and mature.
  • Look the interviewer in the eye. (But don't stare too hard, that will freak them out.) When the interviewer asks you a question, maintain eye contact; when he's done, look up towards the corner or the side of the room to relieve the optical tension. Then look back when you are ready to respond.
  • Smile, keep an open body language. (Don't cross your arms. Don't put your hands behind your head -- this is classic alpha-monkey body language that is guaranteed to annoy your interviewer. Don't lean back and put your feet up on the table. Etc.) If your interviewer likes you, he's likely to forgive the fact that you couldn't perform mental trick xyz. If you annoy your interviewer, it doesn't matter how smart or qualified you are; you aren't going to get the job.
  • Be careful with what you do with your hands. No fidgeting, no pen twirling, no table drumming, etc. There are some simple things you can do with your hands that will portray you as a thoughtful candidate. These include the steeple (kind of like a prayer), and Bill Clinton's classic maneuver: right hand palm up, left hand palm down so that the two palms are touching; when you make a point, bring the left hand up and towards the interviewer palm up. These little things have to be mechanical and practiced; the interviewer will only subconsciously notice them, but will walk away thinking "What a thoughtful and wise candidate." (Hopefully. Unless you are interviewing with me, because I know all of these tricks...)
  • Always, always, always have a set of prepared questions to ask the interviewer. Write them down and bring them with you. Most interviewers will give you a chance to ask questions of them at the end of the interview, and when they see that you have a prepared set, you'll hear a little gasp of appreciation. This is your chance to really get an understanding of the company. Do they pass the Spolsky test ( http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000043.html )? How does the review process look? What's the org chart look like? Do you require people to write unit tests? Do you have a daily build? What do you like about your job? What do you dislike about your job? How do they score on the Capability Immaturity Model ( http://www.stsc.hill.af.mil/crosstalk/1996/11/xt96d11h.asp )? What keeps you up at night? What kind of hardware will I get? What is your policy on internet access (you'd be shocked, some companies don't allow it)--etc. Ask the same questions to all your interviewers; you'll be surprised at how different their responses will be. They aren't just interviewing you -- you are interviewing them. When I get to the "You interview me now" part of the interview, and the candidate doesn't have any questions -- instant turn off.

    Good luck out there!

    Lyle Hayhurst
    Chief Technology Officer
    DRW Trading, LLC
  • Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by BradAustin) | Reply
    I would think most of our community could do that in their head.
    Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by meragrin) | Reply
    You mean people weren't beating down your door trying to hire you without an interview once you learned how to code simple algorithms? The hell you say!
    Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by dok) | Reply
    Sadly, I know it's not true. :(
    Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by Chikov2) | Reply
    This reminds me of a math test joke:

    1960s Arithmetic Test:

    "A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of that amount. What is his profit?"

    '70s new-math test:

    "A logger exchanges a set L of lumber for a set M of money. The cardinality of set M is 100. The set C of production costs contains 20 fewer points. What is the cardinality of Set P of profits?"

    '80s "dumbed down" version:

    "A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost is $80, his profit is $20. Find and circle the number 20."

    '90s version:

    "An unenlightened logger cuts down a beautiful stand of 100 trees in order to make a $20 profit. Write an essay explaining how you feel about this as a way to make money. Topic for discussion: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?"
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