14.2. Problems

It would be impossible for us to cover every conceivable area of computer knowledge that could appear on a résumé or in an interview. Instead, this chapter provides a representative sample of knowledge-based questions. These questions focus on system-level issues, trade-offs between various ways of programming, and advanced features of languages. All these topic areas make sense from the interviewer's perspective. A candidate who claims to know a lot about computers but who isn't aware of basic system-level issues such as virtual memory and disk cache certainly doesn't seem very knowledgeable. Furthermore, many job assignments are not of the variety "Solve this problem by implementing this algorithm in this language," but may be more along the lines of "We have this problem that we need solved." A candidate who understands the trade-offs between various solutions and when to use each one is always preferred to a candidate who does not understand these differences. Finally, these questions enable the interviewer to assess experience and filter out résumé padding. It's unlikely that an experienced developer would have problems answering questions about advanced features in a language that she had used in development for some time. However, an inexperienced programmer or a resume padder might stumble. These questions can help interviewers separate the wheat from the chaff.

Interviewers prefer specific answers to general answers. For example, suppose you are asked, ...

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