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Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by tywok) | Reply
The CS degrees at UF are ridiculously easy to achieve.

We offer much harder degrees in the Electrical & Computer Engineering department; Computer Engineering, Software Emphasis; and Computer & Science Engineering.

The Computer & Science Engineering one is really good, it requires all sorts of classes on OOP, AI, and all sorts of neat topics. The kids on that program usually pull off some really interesting projects. I'm Electrical & Computer Engineering, the most advanced software class I'll touch is Operating Systems, and maybe Design Patterns if I'm feeling good.

As a side note, most of our CS majors end up in IT, which is what they deserve for slacking.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by EmperorofUnivrs) | Reply
Interesting, most of our IT and ISys majors end up in IT :-)

I remember being surprised, actually, at the number of my classmates in some computer science classes that didn't intend to go into software.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by jmzero) | Reply
I just wanted to chime in and corroborate everything that jmzero said. He couldn't have said it any better.

"Last hint: know how to program (and this part is probably wasted here). For our final cut, we had people do a coding exercise. Now you may be thinking - ooh, this is the part I'm interested in. Well... you'll probably be disappointed by the following story."

He hit the nail on the head here. You would probably be shocked at the number of people that are getting programming oriented degrees (Comp Sci., Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, etc) that really have no true programming abilities. Even things like OOP questions will get me blank stares when I ask them.

Now, I can't speak for much of the international community, but one of the biggest problems with North American colleges is that the majority of the courses aren't geared towards developing practical programming skills or the design process. They focus on the theory side and writing small segments of code to complete a massive code base. Unfortunately most of the funding coming into the schools is for theory based research not for enterprise style programming, so thats what the students learn--and it is very obvious in most interviews.

If you want to get a job in the financial industry coming out of college/university you want to take courses on the following things, in order of importance:
-OOP/Data Structures
-Concurrency/Multi-threaded programming (most schools dump this into their operating systems courses)
-Network programming
-Algorithm design
-Database programming

I would say in the next 6 months with some of the new technologies coming out you are going to see concurrency/multi-threaded programming dethrone OOP.

As for the actual interviews, I can't stress this enough (given my audience, I am probably preaching to the choir...) know how to read/explain what a block of code does, and in most cases, how to improve it. Even if it is in a language you don't know, draw on your knowledge of other languages. Interviewers don't want to hear "I don't know, let's move on". Personally, I like nothing more then when a person admits they don't know (honesty) and then takes a try at it explaining him/herself along the way.

Finally, like jmzero said, bringing in code that you have written is huge for your chances too--but that isn't enough, make sure you can explain it and why you made certain design decisions.

HTH

Chris Zuehlke
DRW Trading Group
Algorithmic Trading Group
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by DRW_Chris) | Reply
Now, I can't speak for much of the international community, but one of the biggest problems with North American colleges is that the majority of the courses aren't geared towards developing practical programming skills or the design process. They focus on the theory side and writing small segments of code to complete a massive code base. Unfortunately most of the funding coming into the schools is for theory based research not for enterprise style programming, so thats what the students learn--and it is very obvious in most interviews.


That doesn't explain why the candidates couldn't code a simple algorithm in one hour.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
I like to think that the people that can, already have a job.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by BradAustin) | Reply
I came into an interview for a entry level programming job a couple of days ago and was handed a written test on probability.

Expand P(T; S1, S2, S3... Sn)
a) When no assumptions can be made on S1, S2... Sn
b) When it can be assumed that S1, S2... Sn are all independent of each other.


I guess interview questions have gotten harder since the 90's :(
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?"
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 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 BradAustin) | Reply
I would think most of our community could do that in their head.
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 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 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 madking) | Reply
    Yep, what madking said.
    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.
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