Chapter 1

Hiring Programmers: The Inside Story

When I was a young boy, making new friends seemed easy. I had grown up with the surreal humor of Monty Python and my usual approach to a potential new friend would be something like “I am a knight who says Ekki-Ekki-Ekki-PTANG!” I thought it was hilarious. I made a few great friends (one is still a friend 30 years later), but I also had a lot of misses. Actually, mostly I had misses, nearly all the time. Sometimes my approach would generate open hostility. I couldn't understand it.

What my young self didn't realize was that enthusiasm for the absurd was not a universal constant. Not all kids my age had seen Monty Python, and even if they had, not everyone loved and appreciated it like I did. I was seeing the world through my own Python-shaped glasses, and I did not appreciate the diversity of other childhood experiences. Not everyone was on the same wavelength.

As naïve as this might seem, many hiring managers make the same basic mistake when interviewing. Perhaps they suppose that because they have a lot of hard-won experience in a certain area then of course everyone with experience in that area will see things the same way. Further, they might assume that their thought process will be similar. At the interview the hiring manager might abruptly open the conversation with the equivalent of my Python-inspired icebreaker:

Nice to meet you; now, could you please describe a situation where it would be inappropriate to normalize a set ...

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