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Hiring people lacking relevant skills for a job

Sathvathsan Sampath
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 03, 2000
Posts: 96
In many of my interviews, some of the things the interviewers seemed to concentrate were:
a) Java skills
b) Problem solving ability by asking me solve some puzzles or asking me write algorithms for some complex problems
c) Popular designs patterns and some OO stuff.
I find many people being able pull these off (depending on the interviewer) with some reading, aptitude and experience to some extent.
However, what they don't seem to really assess is how effectively one writes code? Once hired as a developer his primarily task would be to cut code and he could do a pathetic job violating standard programming practices.

1) To avoid this why not ask for a sample or illustration of previous work? This is not to ask the candidate to show actual code written for his present or previous company.
2) Give the candidate a typical problem that reflects closely the job would involve. Give some time and ask him to present his code at a later date. This will tell a whole lot about him.
3) If the job involves bug-fixing lot of time, why not give him buggy code and ask him to fix it.
This might involve some effort on the interviewer but would really help the team in the longer run. Thoughts, opinions´┐Ż?


- Sathvathsan Sampath
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Most interviewers have no clue as they're not technical people but HR weenies or management.

They have a set of questions with predefined answers for the technical stuff and score you on how many of those answers you are able to provide.
If the score is over x% (say 80%) you're good enough for the next round, if not you're sent home with the ubiquitous "you'll hear from us" (iow, thanks for coming in but you're not the guy we're looking for).


42
Arjunkumar Shastry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2005
Posts: 986
Generally here HR people filter the resumes and send to programmers who take interviews.Only upon their approval,management decides to go ahead or not.
Generally interviews here in IT go the way the interviewers want.If they like design patterns or they are banging their heads for last few days,you may get many questions in DP.If interviewers are stuck in their projects why their data structures are not efficient and they have just found a solution after working late nights,you might get many questions on Data structures.
Hence to assess the candidate correctly,some companies invite candidate for the whole day.Assessment is done on written questions.This is typical rat race exmination type where you need to answer 113 objective questions in 90 minutes.Later you have to write some programs like producer/consumer or basic threading/JDBC programs.Its not the best way but its better than oral interviews.Later people can be asked about their projects in oral interviews followed by HR.
[ June 15, 2005: Message edited by: Arjunkumar Shastry ]

Namma Suvarna Karnataka
Arun Sharma
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 24, 2003
Posts: 40
I've seen pathetic hiring scenes. I've seen candidates who did not know even basic things like difference between list, set , map , dynamic binding even basic OO concepts being selected for development jobs. These were correctly rejected by the technical guys, but still management hired 'em since the requirement was said to be urgent.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Sathvathsan Sampath:

a) Java skills
b) Problem solving ability by asking me solve some puzzles or asking me write algorithms for some complex problems
c) Popular designs patterns and some OO stuff.
I find many people being able pull these off (depending on the interviewer) with some reading, aptitude and experience to some extent.
However, what they don't seem to really assess is how effectively one writes code? Once hired as a developer his primarily task would be to cut code and he could do a pathetic job violating standard programming practices.



Originally posted by Sathvathsan Sampath:

a) Java skills


This is necessary but not sufficent. If people can't demonstrated an expected level of Java knowledge, you can't hire them. I often lament that too many interviews focus on regurgitation and often of obscure parts of the language, but some questions of this nature are necessary.



Originally posted by Sathvathsan Sampath:

c) Popular designs patterns and some OO stuff.


Again, necessary, but not sufficent. During the past 10 years, I found knowledge of design patterns a good proxy for someone's ability to proactively better themselves. If someone knew design patterns in 1997, there was a good chance s/he actively tried to learn outside of what his or her manager required. Even today, it is an ok proxy, but you must be more subtle. Everyone knows the MVC pattern (and half the resumes I see list it like using it is an accomplishment--but that's another thread), and very common ones like visitor or singleton. If they know more complex ones like Factory, it tells me they actively learned deisgn patterns and didn't just have someone explain MVC or sington to them once, and then claim to know design patterns ever since.



Originally posted by Sathvathsan Sampath:

1) To avoid this why not ask for a sample or illustration of previous work? This is not to ask the candidate to show actual code written for his present or previous company.


Many manager (myself included) do ask for code samples. I also ask for writing samples. There are confidentiality issues in some cases.



Originally posted by Sathvathsan Sampath:

2) Give the candidate a typical problem that reflects closely the job would involve. Give some time and ask him to present his code at a later date. This will tell a whole lot about him.
3) If the job involves bug-fixing lot of time, why not give him buggy code and ask him to fix it.



Some places do have coding tests, both in-house and take home. However, these typically don't last much longer than 2 hours. Most good candidate that i know wouldn't spend much more than that coding for a company during an interview. Who wants to take home code and spend the next 2-3 days working on it--just for an interview! it's especially hard if you are currently employed and/or have a family. Most problems I've seen at my companies aren't code a few classes in 2 hours, but rather more complex and indepth. Which leads to the final point.



Originally posted by Sathvathsan Sampath:

b) Problem solving ability by asking me solve some puzzles or asking me write algorithms for some complex problems


This is 50% of development. As your note, any fool can memorize a book and spit back answers. Development is tricky because you have complex issues which involves problem solving ability. This is why I always encourage hiring managers to look for smarter, as opposed to more knowledgable, candidates. I do think many problems asked are inappropriate, e.g. the manhole question in which you either get it or you don't, but others involving critical or proceedural thinking I think are key.


--Mark
Prem Khan
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 30, 2005
Posts: 189
In canada this is what they look for....

if(candiate.isFemale() == true)
{
Female interviewgirl = (Female)candicate.getGirlyGirl();
if(interviewgirl.hasBigTits() == true)
{
Interview.fillPositing(interviewgirl);
}
}
else
{
Interview = null;
}
Prem Khan
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 30, 2005
Posts: 189
Many manager (myself included) do ask for code samples.


Then you are a disgusting thief. You ask developers for source code belonging to other companys. Do you think that you are entitled to other companys intelectual property or do you think that codes just sit in a basement all day and code for penuts so that you can "demand it". You dirty rat.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:


Then you are a disgusting thief. You ask developers for source code belonging to other companys. Do you think that you are entitled to other companys intelectual property or do you think that codes just sit in a basement all day and code for penuts so that you can "demand it". You dirty rat.



Shawn,

Neither your tone nor comments are appreciated here. At JavaRanch we have few rules, but the primary one is: Be Nice! Please keep that in mind as you post in the future.

As for your comments, you are making false assumptions. I have never asked developers for source code belonging to other companies. Many developers I interview do open source work or have code samples from other means. Some don't and in those cases I simply don't evaluate them based on code samples. I have never asked anyone to violate their confidentiality agreements.

--Mark
Sonny Gill
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 02, 2002
Posts: 1211

Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:


Then you are a disgusting thief. You ask developers for source code belonging to other companys. Do you think that you are entitled to other companys intelectual property or do you think that codes just sit in a basement all day and code for penuts so that you can "demand it". You dirty rat.


Your comments on Mark are ridiculous, and totally uncalled for.

Having a look at the actual code someone has written can be a great way of finding out how good someone is. It does not have be a full blown application or code from a previous job. Pretty much everybody passionate about programming will have some code s/he has done in spare time, or to try out a new technology.

Just looking at how a person organized classes, interfaces etc, and the code conventions followed can give a technical lead a good idea of how good/bad someone is. Infact, I always carry some sample code with me if I go for an interview. Not something that the company can sell to make money, but something that shows that I know my stuff.


The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet. - William Gibson
Consultant @ Xebia. Sonny Gill Tweets
peter wooster
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:
Then you are a disgusting thief...


If you had read the entire reply or used all of it in your message you would have seen that Mark had recognized that there are confidentiality issues with this. Here is what he said

Many manager (myself included) do ask for code samples. I also ask for writing samples. There are confidentiality issues in some cases.


As far as a source for such code, anyone who has done the SCJD has plenty of it that they can offer, and most of us do projects of our own in our spare time.
Randall Twede
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 4340
    
    2


Just looking at how a person organized classes, interfaces etc, and the code conventions followed can give a technical lead a good idea of how good/bad someone is.


i hope the people who interview me feel this way. as for code samples i have never worked for a company yet (im still in college), but i have tons of sample code. both lab assignments and projects ive done on my own.


SCJP
Visit my download page
Prem Khan
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 30, 2005
Posts: 189
I am proud of any code I have writen for personal projects. I consider that MY intelectual property. Not the property of some coporate fish monger. Why should I just hand over my work to a corporation ? I still have some dignity........
sangeeta kapoor
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 15, 2004
Posts: 70
Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:
I am proud of any code I have writen for personal projects. I consider that MY intelectual property. Not the property of some coporate fish monger. Why should I just hand over my work to a corporation ? I still have some dignity........


You seem to be extremely frustrated. Why don't you a see a good doctor?
peter wooster
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:
I am proud of any code I have writen for personal projects. I consider that MY intelectual property. Not the property of some coporate fish monger. Why should I just hand over my work to a corporation ? I still have some dignity........


If I were interviewing you I'd be skeptical of any code you brought with you, I would look at it, but I certainly wouldn't keep it. I would assume that it was copyright by either you or your previous employer.

I would ask you to read some I provided, and tell me what it did. I might even put misleading comments in it, and write in a very non standard style, I'd expect criticism. I find the skill of understanding someone else's code to be far more important to a developer than the ability to write code.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by sangeeta kapoor:


You seem to be extremely frustrated. Why don't you a see a good doctor?


Please refrain from personal comments of this nature.

--Mark
Prem Khan
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 30, 2005
Posts: 189
I would ask you to read some I provided, and tell me what it did. I might even put misleading comments in it, and write in a very non standard style, I'd expect criticism. I find the skill of understanding someone else's code to be far more important to a developer than the ability to write code.


This is a very interesting topic. Is Software Development / Computer programming / Java Arcitect / whatever you wanna call it a Trade or Profession or neither ?

Correct me if im wrong, but when someone is a profectional, doesnt their credetials speak for themselfs ?

Do CMA (Accountants) ever get asked, give me an example of your general ledger and ballance sheets ? I dont think they do because they have a CMA designation.

Do Engineers get asked "give me the internal logic diagram for that pic micro controler you helped design"

Do Electricians get asked "show me the wireing diagram for that corporate building you did" or "show me the electical plans you did for your own home"

For programmers isnt there a little bit of respect given for the fact that they have built a system before ?

Seriously programming takes skill but its not rocket science to build an information system in a modern technology like Java .... really it isnt !
Cant you trust someone who has exsperience in the industry without pissing them off with disrespect. I really dont feel like this is a profession

Is it a Trade ?
Sania Marsh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2004
Posts: 469
Many companies do ask to write code as first round of interviews,
I was asked to write new or fix existing code before going for face-toface interview.
[ June 18, 2005: Message edited by: Sania Marsh ]
Sania Marsh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2004
Posts: 469
Shawn,
I would have to disagree here.
It is most of the time expected by recruiter that the resume has some degree of false information. Many people I know have lied on their resumes copying someone else's experience. You cannot trust confidence of people.
There are many people who are overconfident by nature.
On the contrary, many people are not as confident..
A developer with 3-5 years of experience could have been working on dosens of projects, it doesn't prove s/he has been writing good code.
And other way around, having too little of experience doesn't mean your code will not be clean and well built.

And I don't see as disrespect asking someone to write a code on the interview.
It is a disrespect if someone without asking to write code says: "I don't think you can write a good code, because ...(put anything here)", but asking to write a bit of code is same as asking any other technical questions, maybe even better for someone, because not everyone is good at answering questions orally.
[ June 18, 2005: Message edited by: Sania Marsh ]
peter wooster
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:
This is a very interesting topic. Is Software Development / Computer programming / Java Arcitect / whatever you wanna call it a Trade or Profession or neither ?


Software development shares a lot with the arts (especially writing), some people are trying to make an engineering disipline out of it, but they haven't convinced the professional engineers of that yet. In most of the arts a portfolio or an audition is expected. No one ever hires an artist, writer or musician without one unless their work is well known.
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Shawn asked:
Do CMA (Accountants) ever get asked, give me an example of your general ledger and balance sheets? I don't think they do because they have a CMA designation.

That is the difference. The CMA designation (CPA in the US) is widely accepted as proof of competence. The Sun Java certifications, even the SCJD which is based on a serious coding exercise evaluated by experts, are not even enough to get an interview.

One way out is exaggerate or lie on one's resume (easier to do when the extra claimed experience occurred half way around the world). Since years of experience is not really that strong an indicator of talent, the applicant is than asked to write a bit of code on the spot or show code samples of unknowable authorship.

Why this is a better skill indicator than the lengthy controlled test of the SCJD is hard for me to understand.


Mike Gershman
SCJP 1.4, SCWCD in process
Roger Chung-Wee
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 29, 2002
Posts: 1683
Why this is a better skill indicator than the lengthy controlled test of the SCJD is hard for me to understand.

It is a sad fact that most employers have a poor or zero understanding of SCJP, let alone SCJD. It has to be also said that most Java developers know little of certifications. In my company, there was a recent survey which was answered by 108 Java developers. Only one person (myself) admitted to having obtained the SCJP. So, I'm not surprised that even the technical people who get drafted into interviews place little or no weight on certifications, preferring to somehow construct a set of technical questions which are typically far easier than candidates face in the certification exams.


SCJP 1.4, SCWCD 1.3, SCBCD 1.3
K Riaz
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 08, 2005
Posts: 375
A candidate can coach themselves to pass a certification, not the case with interviews.

This is why employers don't really care about certifications.
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by Roger Chung-Wee:

It is a sad fact that most employers have a poor or zero understanding of SCJP, let alone SCJD. It has to be also said that most Java developers know little of certifications. In my company, there was a recent survey which was answered by 108 Java developers. Only one person (myself) admitted to having obtained the SCJP. So, I'm not surprised that even the technical people who get drafted into interviews place little or no weight on certifications, preferring to somehow construct a set of technical questions which are typically far easier than candidates face in the certification exams.


1) the exam is nice but can be passed without practical experience. This is supposed to be changing but as it is people who can memorise some rules can pass the exam with a bit of luck if they never used Java before (this was especially true in the past).
2) questions asked on interviews can be made a lot more specific to the parts of the platform the company uses. If for example a lot of RMI is used (or a lot of reflection) having an SCJP candidate doesn't tell you much as those subjects aren't part of the certification at all.

I deferred the exam for years because I'm not very good at studying obscure little rules for an exam. As it is I passed it with a pretty good score but that trouble learning specifically for an exam did reflect the final score which given my long experience using Java in practice should have been higher were it really geared towards testing the candidate's experience and proficiency at using the language in a professional environment (which is all a prospective employer is concerned about, not academic differences and rules that pop up maybe once or twice during someone's entire career).

SCJD looks more interesting and I'm planning to go for that next but had SCJP not been a requirement for it I may well have never gone for the exam at all given the current curiculum and grading.
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Bill said:
A candidate can coach themselves to pass a certification, not the case with interviews.



There is now extensive material available for coaching yourself for technical interviews. For example, Amit posted these links:
1. http://www.fundoosite.com/interview-questions
2. http://www.exforsys.com
3. [url=http://www.techinterviews.com]http://www.techinterviews.com
[/url]

I saw an excellent, detailed book on tech interview preparation the other day at the local book store.


On the other hand, how can you coach yourself to pass the SCJD except by learning to write quality code?

The code is evaluated against a whole set of quality criteria (see below), not just whether it works. Each problem was designed to require a range of techniques and technologies. Someone who learned all these methods well can certainly learn others on the job.

A problem is designed to take one week of full time work and result in about 3500 lines of code.

There are controls to prevent someone from presenting someone else's work.

Above all, there is a team of expert graders following consistent standards, so the passing score and the grade are validated measurements, unlike tech interviews where an available interviewer first asks the applicant to quickly code simple problems and then evaluates the results quickly and subjectively. As for code samples brought to the interview, did the applicant actually write the code, maintain someone else's code, or just "borrow" it for the interview?

BTW, if passing the SCJP first is an issue for you, I suggest trying the mock exams referenced from JavaRanch. You'll see that any competent Java programmer can easily get a passing score with a few hours practice but without learning the really tricky rules. And a passing score is all you need to take the other Sun Java certification exams.

The SCJD grading criteria follow:

Your project will be evaluated on a large number of objective criteria, which fall into 7 categories:

1) General Considerations: This category covers criteria that deal with how easy it is to use and maintain your code.

2) Documentation: This includes your user instructions, Javadoc tool, and comments.

3) Object-Oriented Design: This covers the quality of your object-oriented design, especially as demonstrated in the structure of your classes and your use of variables and methods.

4) GUI: In this category you are graded on how well your GUI conforms to specification, and how easy your GUI is to use.

5) Locking: This category covers your implementation of the locking scheme which is described in detail in your assignment documentation. This part of your assignment deals with multi-threaded coding.

6) Data Store: This category covers your implementation of data storage, which is described in detail in your assignment documentation.

7) Network server: This category covers the network server portion of your assignment.


[ June 19, 2005: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]

[ June 19, 2005: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]
[ June 19, 2005: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
There is now extensive material available for coaching yourself for technical interviews.


I think that is an arbitrary, and consequently incorrect, distinction. The questions on those site are similar to the technical questions you might see on an exam, e.g. what is a primary key, how do you replace a substring. If that's all the interview is then, yes you might as well substitute a test.

There are also softw questions such as, what are the skills a developer should have, where do you want to be in 10 years, what making programming difficult, what are your weakenesses, what was your biggest success? These, too, can be practiced and you can work out a stock answer, but it's not as easy and it takes thought. I don't mind a stock answer as long as it's your stock answer, because there is no one right answer for everyone. The answer is also not just words, but body language, tone, excitement, etc.

More importantly, a good intervier is adaptive. You may ask followup questions or press someone further. You can train for this, but it's not simply memorizing answers.

--Mark
Suman Sarker
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 06, 2004
Posts: 68
Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:
In canada this is what they look for....

if(candiate.isFemale() == true)
{
Female interviewgirl = (Female)candicate.getGirlyGirl();
if(interviewgirl.hasBigTits() == true)
{
Interview.fillPositing(interviewgirl);
}
}
else
{
Interview = null;
}


Hi Shawn,
Your code seems logically inconsistent (and kinda gross too). Here's how I would write it.

Cheers


Suman A Sarker<br />SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD<br /> <br />If You Can't Beat Them ... Join Them!
Roger Chung-Wee
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 29, 2002
Posts: 1683
BTW, if passing the SCJP first is an issue for you, I suggest trying the mock exams referenced from JavaRanch. You'll see that any competent Java programmer can easily get a passing score with a few hours practice but without learning the really tricky rules.

Hey, it took me a lot longer than a few hours!
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Roger said:
Hey, it took me a lot longer than a few hours!

I was talking about barely passing the SCJP. What was your score?
Roger Chung-Wee
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 29, 2002
Posts: 1683
Got 75%, studied in the evenings and weekends for several months. It was a real slog as travelling and work took 12 hours of my typical weekday.

It's amazing to discover how much you don't know until you study for an exam ...
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Mark said:
There are also softw questions such as, what are the skills a developer should have, where do you want to be in 10 years, what making programming difficult, what are your weakenesses, what was your biggest success?

That is true, but this thread was discussing technical questions (see below) which can be studied for whether posed in an interview or in a certification exam.

The thrust of my post was that the SCJD certification, in particular, is objectively superior to examining code samples of unknown origin brought in by an applicant.

My point here is that an highly experienced legacy programmer with, say, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, and SCBCD certifications, is at least as likely an interview candidate as someone with a few years of Java experience. Industry gives almost no weight to certifications in the hiring process.

I think this stems partly from ignorance of the certification process and partly from age discrimination on the part of both agencies and hiring managers. I am not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, but a few head hunters have told me in confidence that sending over an applicant older than the hiring manager is a good way to lose a client. By defining all experienced legacy programmers as beginners and saying they can't use beginners regardless of certifications, employers believe they have finessed the law. Certifications, unlike years of paid industry experience, are credentials you can earn regardless of age.

Interview questions from this thread:
In many of my interviews, some of the things the interviewers seemed to concentrate were:
a) Java skills
b) Problem solving ability by asking me solve some puzzles or asking me write algorithms for some complex problems
c) Popular designs patterns and some OO stuff.

They have a set of questions with predefined answers for the technical stuff and score you on how many of those answers you are able to provide.

Assessment is done on written questions.This is typical rat race exmination type where you need to answer 113 objective questions in 90 minutes.Later you have to write some programs like producer/consumer or basic threading/JDBC programs.

difference between list, set , map , dynamic binding even basic OO concepts

I was asked to write new or fix existing code before going for face-toface interview.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Mike Gershman:

That is true, but this thread was discussing technical questions (see below) which can be studied for whether posed in an interview or in a certification exam.


Um, no. No Sathvathsan is the ultimate arbitor on this as it's his thread, but he was raising a point about how interview questions are misaligned with job functionality. IMHO, in that sense, non-technical questions are just as important, if not more so.


Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
My point here is that an highly experienced legacy programmer with, say, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, and SCBCD certifications, is at least as likely an interview candidate as someone with a few years of Java experience. Industry gives almost no weight to certifications in the hiring process.


Not in my book. Practical experience is much more valuable, and the industry recognizes it. (Apply your argument to surgeons and airline pilots--who would you rather have cut you open and lift you 20,000 ft off the ground, someone who has a successful track record in the field, or someone who's "read all the books.")


Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
I think this stems partly from ignorance of the certification process and partly from age discrimination on the part of both agencies and hiring managers.... Certifications, unlike years of paid industry experience, are credentials you can earn regardless of age.


I think it stems from knowing who to hire. This is a free market. If companies are hiring the wrong types of people, they will fail. if not the whole company, that project team, and the manager will not continue to hire. Yes, there's the exception liek you buddy's former boss who played golf with the CEO and knew hot to play politics, but by and large, people who know how to hire better will be more successful. Tell you what, call Google and ask them how much they weight certifications. (I don't know the answer, but I'll bet its minimal.)

Asking for experience is not "discrimination." Again, we require it for our doctors and pilots and in many other professions. It's because we know we can't put everything in a book. How many Fortune 500 CEOs are there under 30? I don't there's a single one. I guess Fortune 500 companies clearly are involved in discrimination!

To your second point, the software market is actually at an advantage over most other industries--there's no minimum age! I've known guys doing software for pay from the age of 12. And as small projects can be done over the internet these days, no on needs to know that you're 12. In how many other professions can you start working at 12?

--Mark
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Practical experience is much more valuable, and the industry recognizes it. (Apply your argument to surgeons and airline pilots--who would you rather have cut you open and lift you 20,000 ft off the ground, someone who has a successful track record in the field, or someone who's "read all the books.")


In an airliner's cockpit, there are two licensed pilots. They both did more than read the books, they practiced extensively and took a series of certification flights. However, one of them may have never flown paying passengers before and that pilot will still do 50% of the take-offs and landings. The FAA and airlines recognize an air transport endorsement and aircraft type certification as proof positive that a pilot is qualified to fly a plane-load of passengers from place to place.

Furthermore, getting certified on a new aircraft type is a routine part of changing jobs - airlines do not discount 747 flying hours when hiring 757 pilots. Not so in Java shops - twenty years of enterprise COBOL programming and extensive Java certifications count for nothing.

I will concede your point on surgeons. While any MD is legally allowed to do brain surgery, I would prefer someone who does my particular procedure all the time. However, when a new treatment comes out, the hospital does not run out and recruit a graduating surgical resident or import a foreign graduate because the current staff only knows "old technology".


This is a free market. If companies are hiring the wrong types of people, they will fail. if not the whole company, that project team, and the manager will not continue to hire.


Don't they teach history at MIT?

Racial discrimination didn't end in the South because it was bad business - it ended because it was illegal. The bus Rosa Parks was arrested on was owned by a Chicago company with no record of racism in Northern cities. They segregated the buses in Montgomery Alabama because the city officials and white patrons demanded it. They only stopped discriminating when the courts ordered them to stop. And they lost business as a result.

Age discrimination in IT is based on the perception that older workers are harder to manage and demand more money and the reality that older workers use more health benefits and make younger managers uncomfortable. It will change when the law is as strictly enforced as race and gender protections, a work in progress.

As for hiring 12-year-old programmers, I never said that IT employers discriminate against younger workers. I was programming for wages at school when I was 18 and I was not the youngest.
Mike Gershman
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Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Asking for experience is not "discrimination."

Completely discounting legacy experience, in a complete break with industry hiring practice over forty years and four generations of computer systems, is discrimination. It also violates the Supreme Court disparate impact decision which brings hightened scrutiny to hiring criteria which tend to disfavor a protected class such as older workers.

How many Fortune 500 CEOs are there under 30?

You mean like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell?
peter wooster
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Mike Gershman:

You mean like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell?


It's odd, experience in older technologies (like CPM, Apple II, and IBM 8088) are not viewed as a problem when you're the CEO. Companies like a CEO to have a long track record and varied experience.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Mike Gershman:

The FAA and airlines recognize an air transport endorsement and aircraft type certification as proof positive that a pilot is qualified to fly a plane-load of passengers from place to place.


I think you need to double check your facts with an airline. Yes, both the FAA and airline won't let you fly without a license and use a test to demonstrate certification. HOWEVER, airlines prefer experienced pilots. As you point out, they recognize that 747 flying time is "good enough" to 757 flying time. For this reason the airlines tend to hire a number of former military pilots. It's much easier to get a job with a US airline if you've logged hundreds (or even thousands) of hours of flight time than if you took a course and passed the test with maybe 50-100 hours of flight time. (Don't take my word for it, ask the airlines.)



Originally posted by Mike Gershman:

Don't they teach history at MIT?

Racial discrimination didn't end in the South because it was bad business - it ended because it was illegal.


Yes. We also teach economics. It turns out slavery was a *great* economic model--for the slave owners anyway. It lasted so long because it did work, and economics wasn't going to stop it. Fortunately, we did recognize that it was immoral and put a stop to it. But don't argue that slavery wasn't economically viable (albeit immoral), because for the people in power, it woked just great. (Just to be 100% clear, I do not condone slavery no matter how good it may seem economically.)



Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
As for hiring 12-year-old programmers, I never said that IT employers discriminate against younger workers.


Actually, what you said was

Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
Certifications, unlike years of paid industry experience, are credentials you can earn regardless of age.


I countered by arguing that an 18 year old could have more experience than a 24 year old. Likewise someone who enters the field at 30 can have less experience than someone who started at 22. While experience often highly correlates to age, age is not necessarily a limiting factor.



Originally posted by Mike Gershman:

You mean like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell?


I don't believe any of them were a) under 30, and b) the CEO when their company was included in the Fortune 500. Perhaps I am wrong. Please provide dates (date of inclusion into the Fortune 500 list and birth dates of the CEO) to correct me. (Of course, even then, none of them were hired into the position, and we're talking about discrimination in hiring workers.)



--Mark
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
I think you need to double check your facts with an airline. Yes, both the FAA and airline won't let you fly without a license and use a test to demonstrate certification. HOWEVER, airlines prefer experienced pilots. As you point out, they recognize that 747 flying time is "good enough" to 757 flying time. For this reason the airlines tend to hire a number of former military pilots. It's much easier to get a job with a US airline if you've logged hundreds (or even thousands) of hours of flight time than if you took a course and passed the test with maybe 50-100 hours of flight time. (Don't take my word for it, ask the airlines.)


In this area there is a LOT of politics involved in the hiring process, far more than almost anywhere else.
It's come to the point where a 747 pilot (according to his paygrade) is not allowed to fly any other type (even if he has a valid type certificate) because of union regulations. Even if the airline were willing to offer him his higher 747 pay to fly a 757 (say as a replacement crew for a colleague who called in sick) union regs state he may not do so.
Weird but true.
This is at the heart of much trouble in airline pilot contract negotiations. For example the ComAir pilot strike a few years ago was over this type of phenomenon. The airline had recently acquired aircraft with a few more seats than the old ones, this put the aircraft over the (semi-random) boundaries between "just" paygrades that the main pilots' union (ALPA) uses, causing them to demand an immediate rise of 30%+ in the wages for all pilots (despite the fact that their workload and schedules wouldn't change a bit).
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Summing up,

1. The lack of discrimination against youth does not argue against the presence of discrimination against older IT workers.

2. The fact that companies and departments that practice age discrimination are successful is not surprising and economic factors will not end the practice. Law enforcement is necessary.

3. Airlines give a lot of weight in hiring pilots to experience on older systems. IT departments rationalizing age discrimination do not. This attitude is new to IT - it started after the off-shoring boom threw lots of older programmers onto the job market.

4. Mark challenged my asertion that some top IT CEO's led Fortune 500 companies before age 30. Please give me a day or two to respond, I'm starting Jury duty and also prepping for teaching my first class - at long last.
[ June 20, 2005: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
1. The lack of discrimination against youth does not argue against the presence of discrimination against older IT workers.


Yes, but this is practically a self-evident truth.


Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
2. The fact that companies and departments that practice age discrimination are successful is not surprising and economic factors will not end the practice. Law enforcement is necessary.


There has been zero evidence provided for this.


Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
3. Airlines give a lot of weight in hiring pilots to experience on older systems. IT departments rationalizing age discrimination do not. This attitude is new to IT - it started after the off-shoring boom threw lots of older programmers onto the job market.


Again, I disagree about the IT "discrimination" and see little evidence.



--Mark
Homer Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 311
3. Airlines give a lot of weight in hiring pilots to experience on older systems. IT departments rationalizing age discrimination do not. This attitude is new to IT - it started after the off-shoring boom threw lots of older programmers onto the job market.

Nope, they have been age discriminators for at least the last 20 years.

Isn't interesting that some people can't get into law school because they do poorly on the LSAT. It's just an exam and anybody should be able to bone up on it in a few weekends?

But IT is different. Tests don't matter.

In one place the powers-that-be demand a test in another they won't accept a test as a measure.

Yep, if you have 3000 hours flying c-130s you can cross train to be a 757 pilot. If you have years of C, PERL, assembly, Fortran, Basic, Ladder Logic, shell scripting, and Pascal you can't make the jump to Java because you don't know OO. But if you're a new college grad you are an OO person because the prof vetted you. LOL

The age discrimination comes from the senior management. I'll bet if they let the people on the team with one to three years experience play a bigger role in hiring, more over 35s would get hired.
Luke Kolin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
Isn't interesting that some people can't get into law school because they do poorly on the LSAT. It's just an exam and anybody should be able to bone up on it in a few weekends? But IT is different. Tests don't matter.


With respect, but based on most of the family and immigration law attorneys I have had the pleasure to observe I can tell you that tests don't matter much in law either. They're just filters to arbitrarily restrict the flow of people into a field so that compensation for those already there can be increased. I would contend that if you eliminated all licensing restrictions for attorneys and let just anyone practice law, quality would not suffer dramatically.

If you have years of C, PERL, assembly, Fortran, Basic, Ladder Logic, shell scripting, and Pascal you can't make the jump to Java because you don't know OO. But if you're a new college grad you are an OO person because the prof vetted you.


If you have no demonstrable Java skills then you should be compensated like someone who's coming in based on potential - like the young college student. I've been programming for over 20 years in Basic, Pascal, Assembler, C and now Java, and to claim that someone can pick up a new language to the point of someone fluent in it within 90 or 180 days has not been verified in my professional experience.

I've had to go through two career transformations from sysadmin into development, and then from Lotus Domino into Java. I've always been fortunate enough to recognize the next step a few years before I needed to make the jump, and transitioned with my legacy skills as leverage.

Those guys who've been around the block a few times should have the experience and wisdom to recognize changing trends and be adequately prepared for them, right?

Cheers!

Luke
 
 
subject: Hiring people lacking relevant skills for a job
 
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