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#jobs-discuss
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2020-06-08
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alex.lynham15:06:39

I've done take home stuff when I was junior and I think at that level eh, it's fine, but I've also failed at least one as a senior where I was like 'okay, I have limited time, gonna have some fun with this, but I'm not going to worry about performance' and then got comments about unprofessional code comments and performance, so I'm a bit ambivalent about it all tbh. If I run into a performance issue in real code, I would... work it out and fix it. :man-shrugging::skin-tone-6: Then again, the flip side of that is maybe it was worthwhile cos clearly we weren't a good fit! Ha. Last two gigs I've just had a conversation about program design with the person hiring and that's been pretty good. Quite hard to hide what you don't know in a situation where you are asked follow-up questions - eventually you get to 'I don't know, I'd have to look that up' and as somebody who's done a fair bit of interviewing before, I really like it when people are able to be honest about that. Also I know others have already said it, but blind CVs, making sure there's always 2 interviewers and/or a cross-discipline person present & making sure you take a standard form of notes are all really useful things when working out if you're just going on gut.

alex.lynham15:06:39

I've done take home stuff when I was junior and I think at that level eh, it's fine, but I've also failed at least one as a senior where I was like 'okay, I have limited time, gonna have some fun with this, but I'm not going to worry about performance' and then got comments about unprofessional code comments and performance, so I'm a bit ambivalent about it all tbh. If I run into a performance issue in real code, I would... work it out and fix it. :man-shrugging::skin-tone-6: Then again, the flip side of that is maybe it was worthwhile cos clearly we weren't a good fit! Ha. Last two gigs I've just had a conversation about program design with the person hiring and that's been pretty good. Quite hard to hide what you don't know in a situation where you are asked follow-up questions - eventually you get to 'I don't know, I'd have to look that up' and as somebody who's done a fair bit of interviewing before, I really like it when people are able to be honest about that. Also I know others have already said it, but blind CVs, making sure there's always 2 interviewers and/or a cross-discipline person present & making sure you take a standard form of notes are all really useful things when working out if you're just going on gut.

conor.p.farrell15:06:47

What unprofessional code comments did you put in?

ashnur15:06:56

Ah, the interesting questions! : D

alex.lynham16:06:30

there was a bit of code that was definitely where any prospective bugs would be

alex.lynham16:06:37

it had all the side effects basically

alex.lynham16:06:48

so I put ;; here be dragons I think

alex.lynham16:06:23

there was one bit that said sorry this isn't super nice as well around something that was a bit of a hack

zdot10119:06:41

yea this is re-triggering me over something similar I got in an interview once ahahah I was just thinking 'wtf of course I wouldn't leave these comments in other code, these are for you personally'. Had a similar bit about using the less performant version of a function ... and of course I did .. the inputs are fixed, there will always be 8 inputs. I didn't think that decision would be read into as some grand marker for how I treat performance. Speaking of which, it doesn't matter if O(n) describes how it scales with inputs, if the inputs themselves don't scale (and couldn't, btw, by definition)-- in a case like that, might as well say there are no inputs, only 1 fixed computation. Might as well be O(1). In a real world case of course I will compare library functions more closely and get to know (all) their trade offs as well as possible -- I am not so inflexible that either something always matters to me or never matters.

alex.lynham07:06:28

yeah i mean in the particular case I'm thinking of it was fun to solve if I limited myself to only map/reduce and transducers but it didn't scale as well as loop/recur

alex.lynham07:06:54

but I felt like the loop/recur solution was a) boring and b) not an opportunity to show off idiomatic clojure constructs

alex.lynham07:06:27

so I did it using map/reduce/transducers and it blew up with a big enough input

alex.lynham07:06:20

I was like er yeah it'll stack overflow, although thinking about it today if I'd spent a week rather than a few hours there was probably a fully lazy solution that could be gracefully realised

alex.lynham07:06:29

gosh that version would have been a pain to write tho

alex.lynham07:06:48

at that point you def would have to pay me, I've got interesting side projects I'd rather work on lol

jayzawrotny21:06:38

When we hired Clojure devs we also did 3 interviews. 1.) interview for general meeting with the key team members and discuss experience 2.) pairing on a project or an exercise -- I'm usually driving and I'm explaining the problem I'm working on. I express early on that progress does not matter. I just want to see what they're like to work with. Do they ask good questions? How do they handle critical discussions? Can they communicate well? 3.) call references 4.) final meeting to discuss roles, salary, and follow up to reference discussions.

seancorfield22:06:28

That raises an interesting question for me: how many of y'all actually follow-up with references? How do you deal with not being able to contact them?

seancorfield22:06:18

I ask because nearly all of my former colleagues (and esp. former managers) at every company I've ever worked at has either moved on or I just plan old have no contact details for.

seancorfield22:06:52

(at least, former colleagues that would make sense to list as potential references)

seancorfield22:06:58

My manager from Macromedia (who was one of the best managers I've ever known) left about when I left -- after Adobe acquired us! -- and went through two or three different companies before I completely lost track of her. Some of the companies I've worked at no longer exist so I can't even point potential employers at the company, let alone any of its former staff.

seancorfield22:06:11

It was actually a big stumbling point when I joined World Singles Networks because they couldn't contact any of my references (because they had either long-since left the company or the company itself no longer existed). We were talking the other day about tech folk switching jobs every 18 months or so -- how on earth do you keep track of at least three past colleagues/managers that you can actually use as references? How is this system supposed to work these days?

seancorfield22:06:11

It was actually a big stumbling point when I joined World Singles Networks because they couldn't contact any of my references (because they had either long-since left the company or the company itself no longer existed). We were talking the other day about tech folk switching jobs every 18 months or so -- how on earth do you keep track of at least three past colleagues/managers that you can actually use as references? How is this system supposed to work these days?

risinglight22:06:57

I’m facing a similar issue converting to FTE at my current gig. I was self employed for years, and was doing short term contract work for years before that. My best reference right now is a business owner who is actively trying to get me to do work for him, so it’s a bit of a conflict of interest. Meanwhile HR doesn’t care about any of this and demands manager position references despite me being at my current gig for 1.5 years at this point.

seancorfield22:06:25

"HR ... demands manager position references" -- Yeah, I assumed most companies looking for references would typically be looking for past managers and I certainly couldn't satisfy that. I can't even remember the names of my managers from more than a few jobs back and I have no way at all to contact my previous two managers.

seancorfield22:06:46

And you can't exactly give as references the people you are currently working with! 👀

folcon23:06:07

Maybe we need a new network 😂

risinglight23:06:05

It’s kafkaesque bureaucracy. I can’t even give as a reference the person who I reported to at this company, who has since moved on!

ashnur03:06:40

I never needed references before coming to the UK, but all my best colleagues and bosses marked me as friends on Facebook or LinkedIn or something, I could reach them if I wanted. :)

ashnur03:06:57

I also do not understand why you can't give your current colleagues as references

seancorfield03:06:09

If your current work doesn't know that you are looking for a new job, you don't want potential employers calling them up about references!

risinglight03:06:25

The real kicker is how trivial it would be to have a buddy pretend to be your manager and be a reference, as there’s no good way to verify the person on the other end of the phone is who they say they are.

ashnur03:06:23

They can look up the person on linkedin too, most of these people have profiles, they can see we worked together at some company, with job postings often

ashnur03:06:46

If I want to hide that I am leaving and I want to switch in secret, it's an interesting issue, but I would say that the problems are due to already pre-existing assumptions about work/life stuff. It's not normal in any case the way we normalized our life in these workplaces, so I don't worry too much that in the details it's even less normal.

seancorfield03:06:01

Well, I've always quit one job before starting my search for a new one -- unless I've been head-hunted unexpectedly while happily employed (which has happened a couple of times) -- but most people don't have the luxury of leaving their current job before they start looking for a new one...

ashnur04:06:51

Absolutely agree, however I get confused. Are we talking about specifically a veteran clojure dev, a veteran javascript dev, or most people, who, being most people, can't speak english, can't write code, can't talk corporate lingo on an interview, can't properly "price themselves" and most importantly, they do not know anyone in the first place to ask help from, they have to go through the front door which is always an issue if you want to get good deals. But I digress. I didn't mean leave immediately, I meant that it's possible to look actively while working somewhere else. The contract shouldn't say this is not ok, if it does it's probably illegal already. And if current colleagues have issues that means they either don't understand changing circumstances (like moving between cities or countries, in which case I doubt anyone would complain) or they are probably part of the problem that prompts the leave, so you wouldn't want to give them as reference anyway.

dharrigan04:06:37

For references, it's perfectly acceptable just to give the details of your HR department. Legally, in order to avoid any deflamation suits, the HR department simply confirms you worked for them, what your job title was and the period of your employment.

seancorfield04:06:45

@ That's in the UK. It seems to be different in the US.

seancorfield04:06:44

@ I'm not sure what you're meaning to say there -- but your words could easily be read as very insulting to a lot of people, so I hope that's just unfortunate wording...

dharrigan04:06:42

Can you be sued in the US if you discover a bad (maybe wrong? maybe right?) reference was written about you?

ashnur04:06:42

What is insulting? I wasn't aware writing anything like that. Would like to correct it if someone points it out to me.

seancorfield04:06:01

@ Probably 🙂 The US is very litigious...

seancorfield04:06:44

@ Your words sounded very dismissive of a lot of people, as if they have no skills and no value. Glad that's not what you meant.

ashnur04:06:08

Yeah, I find it very interesting that these kind of misunderstandings always, always pop up when I mention all people, since I actually mean all people, like all humans alive. Most people on earth are objectively describable like how I described them, without any kind of dismissal being apparent, in fact I wanted to highlight how bullshitty the world we both are more or less successful, which excludes most people, it is not me who insult the majority, it's everyone who thinks the current situation is normal.

ashnur04:06:12

But I guess I shouldn't be that subtle because then I, as the bearer of bad news, get shot down as the insulting one 🙂

seancorfield04:06:37

Well, if these kinds of misunderstandings "always, always" pop up, I guess it must be the way you're wording things then 🙂

seancorfield04:06:48

As long as you're polite about it, I guess you could try being "not that subtle" to see if it leads to fewer misunderstandings.

seancorfield04:06:31

I think you're just trying to say that a "most people" aren't software engineers... which I guess is a truism, but not actually relevant to the point I was trying to make...

seancorfield04:06:04

Regardless of industry and skill level, most people are not in a position to quit their job, have no income coming in while they are looking for a new job, and then starting that new job -- most people tend to look for a new job while they are currently employed. That was all I was saying -- as a counter to your comment about using current colleagues as references.

ashnur05:06:15

There are too many misunderstandings to stop and care for each. In this case for example the most important would be that you are yet to express an answer to what I specifically said: you can look for work while working, no need to quit. We obviously agree that quitting before having another job is a luxury that is often not available even for software engineers. Just because you always quit or got headhunted, doesn't mean this is something to be followed by others, and I responded by trying to highlight that since most people are not like you, they don't have to do what you do :relaxed:

seancorfield05:06:59

Right, and I said that most people will indeed look for work while working. But that is what makes it hard for them to give current colleagues as references.

ashnur05:06:30

Why though? Why would it be any kind of issue?

ashnur05:06:45

Who else would be the best reference as current colleagues?

seancorfield05:06:14

If your current manager doesn't know you are looking for a new job, and they get a call from some company asking for a reference, that's going to be awkward -- and if you end up not getting that new job, your manager might arrange for you to not have your current job either 😞

ashnur05:06:09

But this is a specific mistake someone might make, forgetting to notify the person, I wouldn't dare giving a reference of someone without first asking them if it's ok if they randomly get called by some company...

ashnur05:06:18

I am not sure why this matters, obviously ask first.

ashnur05:06:25

Are you saying that most people, that is, the majority of the world, lives in a state of affairs where merely by telling their manager they want to work elsewhere, they can get fired immediately?

seancorfield05:06:57

Asking your manager if you can use them as a reference is going to make them think you are planning to leave. And even if it doesn't, when they get that call from another company, they'll know you are planning to leave.

ashnur05:06:04

Sounds ridiculous, surely there are bad managers, I've met a few, but none like this.

ashnur05:06:48

Well, the person giving reference must know I am planning to leave, I still don't see any kind of issue here, unless we assume this person is the biggest asshole on the block.

ashnur05:06:16

Because 1. had to convince me I can rely on them 2. but actually be unreliable

ashnur05:06:38

3. and be spiteful for me being sucked into the situation

seancorfield05:06:40

If a worker is unhappy and planning to leave, a lot of companies will terminate them immediately so they don't cause unrest with other workers.

ashnur05:06:17

so you are saying that if someone shows that they want to leave, that's reason for being fired before you can actually prepare for a switch?

seancorfield05:06:05

Yeah, it absolutely happens. I've seen it happen to friends and colleagues. I've had friends tell me about it happening to others in their companies.

ashnur05:06:19

sounds literally criminal for an organisation for assumed possible negatives to throw under a bus a contracted employee

seancorfield05:06:00

I've seen it happen in both the US and the UK, and I have friends around the world who've related similar things in their countries.

ashnur05:06:58

Ok, so I might understand this now, you are saying that a lot of people can't find work because new work means references, but references are only current managers. E.g. people whose references are not usable anymore or people who are working at their first job?

ashnur05:06:37

So actually, I can call this slavery, since the idea would be that although I am selling my time, at least I can leave, but leaving would assume that I have another place to go and I don't become a fugitive with no home.

seancorfield05:06:36

I'm saying that the reference system is problematic because of how some (many?) companies use it. It was interesting to hear @ say that instead of references, some companies simply contact HR at your previous employers and confirm your employment dates.

ashnur05:06:27

Well, there are other ways to get hired, but if the only way to get work is through this system?

ashnur05:06:46

That is, if all the places you have access to, are places that ask for references.

seancorfield05:06:24

In the US, it's also complicated by the fact that it's very difficult from a legal point of view to give someone a "bad reference", i.e., if your new potential employers contacts one of your references, they'll either give a good reference (OK) or they'll refuse to give a reference beyond just confirming you worked there. So a refusal to provide a reference is usually taken as being a "negative" -- even if there were perfectly good reasons for them not to give a reference.

ashnur05:06:58

Also, even the suggestion you mention last only works if there are previous employers. For people who might get hired and then work for years at the first place (or maybe work before that is not in the same field), it's easiest to give current colleagues as references. Also also, references are not departments of institutions but actual humans, much more reliable (imho).

seancorfield05:06:24

Right, and I'm talking about direct, personal references -- but I don't have contact details for past managers (and it is manager references that companies most often want to contact).

seancorfield05:06:17

And, sure, if you're in your first job and trying to get your second job, that's an additional complication.

seancorfield05:06:37

Which is why I started this thread and wondered what folks do about references 🙂

ashnur05:06:53

I can see how the US situation is bad, but in the very beginning of this discussion I already said that these problems are about pre-existing assumptions related to how we work and how we live. I am not sure I like the reference system at all.

seancorfield05:06:26

I completely agree -- I really don't like the reference system either.

slipset05:06:41

We/I do reference checks. Never had a problem with candidates not being able to come up with a couple. We use the references to confirm our impression of the candidate, and to give us guidance on how to make the candidate thrive while working with us.

ashnur05:06:28

But I think it's all wrong, the way we organize work and the way we value it. Like, how https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle and later https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullshit_Jobs I would say it would be normal that in a global pandemic the people who remain at work get the highest paycheck, and maybe the same jobs should get the most even when there isn't such an emergency ongoing.

slipset05:06:23

I like to think that we’d be flexible if someone was not able to come up with a couple of references, but I would appreciate a good explanation as to why.

ashnur05:06:58

But when I suggested my Java dev friend that he should pay exactly as much to the cleaning lady as he would take for the same job, he found the idea alien.

slipset05:06:47

What I think is problematic is when hiring is done by HR if HR is just following a playbook and not able to make adjustments for the individual candidates. (“I’m sorry you don’t seem to have experience with XML, and it’s required for this position”)

ashnur05:06:58

@ I think I understand you, but when you say "confirm our impression", I hope you realize that also good for keeping up industry biases, because if the candidate is from a group which is viewed as less capable, you just confirm this : )

ashnur05:06:16

well, the name Human Resources I think makes everything very clear, no one expects anything more

slipset05:06:58

Not that kind of impression. Say I interview someone, and I get the impression that this is a quiet person who likes to work on problems alone, and a reference says the person is an outspoken person who loves team work, then something is off somewhere, and we might need to get to know the candidate even better.

alwyn01:06:37

Try applying for a work visa in the US and immigration requiring references from all your previous employers. Yes, sir, I worked at EDS 12 years ago, they were bought by HP, Oh and company Y doesn't exist anymore.

seancorfield01:06:24

I was lucky that I came in on an E-2 (Executive Transfer) -- it's all on your current employer.

alwyn01:06:40

I was L1 🙂

alwyn01:06:03

not the manager one

alwyn01:06:40

Luckily in the end they weren't strict about it as long as you had the most recent ones.

raspasov07:06:28

@ interesting; never heard of “legal problems” about giving a bad reference (but I’m no legal expert)

seancorfield07:06:34

(and, like so many things in the US, it varies by state)