Joe Kraus (JotSpot) write about the three questions he uses to help assess engineers during the interview process. I was glad to see that I had reasonable answers to all three. :-)

Do you have a blog?

I do. You're reading it.

What's your home page?

As Joe suggests, I rolled my own a long time ago. It's at Feel free to bitch about my choice of search engine. Just remember that I built this page before Firefox existed, so I didn't have a ever-present search box in my browser. (Hint: Yahoo! Search was Google back then.)

Do you contribute to an open source project?

Yes. I've patched both Perl and MySQL. I also created mytop, DBIx::DWIW, Geo::METAR, and probably some stuff I've forgotten.

Do I get the job? ;-)


Ken Norton (also of JotSpot) recently wrote How to hire a product manager. Can you tell they're hiring?

Posted by jzawodn at June 22, 2005 06:11 PM

Reader Comments
# Anonymous said:

I interviewed with Ben Lutch (the other co-founder at JotSpot from Excite with Joe and Graham) a few months ago. No such questions (probably fortunately, because the answer is no to all of those)

on June 22, 2005 06:18 PM
# Jeff Boulter said:

I'm not sure having a blog is always a good thing. Sometimes I look at people's blogs and think "Does this person actually get any work done??"

on June 22, 2005 06:55 PM
# Jonathan Jesse said:

Why should it matter if you have a blog or not? I agree w/ what was stated earlier, some people who post on thier blogs have no time. I barely get time to read some of these at night through bloglines. :(

on June 22, 2005 07:45 PM
# Ben said:

A lot of people don't like to share their thoughts publicly.

In the future all of you bloggers will be easily profiled by companies mining the web. Just think of what the future can be able to deduce from your posts. They'll probably have a very detailed profile of you that can be bought just like you can buy a background check. Companies will cross-reference your psychological profile with their requirements... etc...

on June 22, 2005 08:03 PM
# Morgan Schweers said:

While I have a blog, certainly, and I may have several home pages depending on how you define them, AND I contribute to some (less well known) open source projects, I think that those questions are bunk.

You don't need a blog to be a good engineer. You don't need a home page to be a good engineer.

The only one that has any value is the open source one, and I ask it completely differently, 'Tell me about the programming you do outside of work.' I don't care if it's open source, closed source, solely for their use, or just toys. I care that THEY care about software development. That it's something they have a passion for, that doesn't end at the door to the office.

Sure, a blog means you can check to see if they communicate well. Sure, a homepage means...uhhh...that they know HTML? Whatever. (Frankly, a blog more often means they have strong opinions and want to share them (not a bad thing, but worth noting), and a homepage just means they're vain, or they were on the web when personal homepages were 'Da Bomb!'.)

If I'm hiring a software engineer, I care that they love software development, because that means they'll probably be good at it.

-- Morgan

on June 22, 2005 09:14 PM
# Che Dong said:

my blog

I use Google and Baidu as backup

I contrib the CJKTokenizer for Lucene(java based search engine)
and WebLucene project: xml interface for lucene

and another php script for viewing man page via http:

I also contribute some path for awstats(perl based logs analysis tool)

on June 22, 2005 10:24 PM
# Sean said:

"So you go to Walmart, buy a VCR, take it home, plug it in, and it doesn't work. What do you do?"

If they take it back, chances are they're not the one you want. If they read the manual, they've passed.


on June 23, 2005 05:24 AM
# Laura said:

"So you go to Walmart..."

If I claim I refuse to shop at Walmart, do I fail the interview question?

on June 23, 2005 11:07 AM
# said:

How does having a personal home page mean you are vain? That is devoid of any logic.

on June 23, 2005 01:19 PM
# GrumpY! said:

Don't put too much stock in Joe Kraus. Remember Excrete got flattened by two guys (Jerry and David) who last time I checked did not blog.

But Joe I made out like a king shorting you after the oh so insightful cable merger. Thanks!

on June 23, 2005 08:14 PM
# Adam Trachtenberg said:

As an interviewer, I'm happy if you have good answers to any of these questions. However, I'm disturbed if you take them too literally and get hung up on their particular wording instead of the ideas they're supposed to represent. How you answer the questions matters as much (if not more) than what you say.

on June 24, 2005 07:04 AM
# vanderwal said:

I interview a lot of web developers for my team and once a resume passes the threashold I Google the person. I am utterly amazed how few web developers actually have a personal site, let alone a blog.

I am interested in people that have more than just an interest in web development as a job. The best developers nearly all have personal sites or do outside work that is more on the cutting edge than the goverment work.

on June 24, 2005 01:14 PM
# GrumpY! said:

>> I interview a lot of web developers for my team and once a resume passes the threashold I Google the person. I am utterly amazed how few web developers actually have a personal site, let alone a blog.
I am interested in people that have more than just an interest in web development as a job.

We do have lives, thats why we don't sit around screeding gibberish on blogs all night. We go outside. You know, that state you pass through between your condo and your car. Believe it or not you can actually exist in this environment for extended periods of time. The ancients mastered this difficult art.

Do any of you have kids? How many are even married? Ask how many parents of two or more kids have time to write essays about hating George Bush, waxing their new Prius, or how they tried to have intercourse with their TiVo. You have your toys and your idiosyncracies. Not much else.

Pick the top ten most influential people in the history of the web. Try to be objective. Now see how many have blogs. Bingo! Now think of ten people you know who are total wankers. How many of them have blogs? Whoops!

on June 28, 2005 07:39 PM
# QuestorTheElf said:

Ironically, sometimes the best way to become proficient at something is to take deliberate breaks away from it. Some people who are very creative and/or knowledgeable about their field aren't engaged in it 24/7. The book _Creativity in Business_ by a Stanford professor points out that your best solutions can come when you purposely leave a problem and return to it later.

To some extent, blogging could form that kind of escapism. Yet others become much better Web practitioners precisely because they take large steps away from the computer.

I had one boss who only spent 40 hours a week at a job in a video games company in Silicon Valley. He wrote fantastic code, beautiful and flawless. Some people resented him for it, dismissing him as "not a team player" because he didn't put in face time. Some managers insisted showing up at 10AM and leaving at 6PM made others look bad. (If anything, I thought technology was supposed to liberate us, and he was the great role model!)

I asked him about if he would stay past 6 banging code. He said, "Sorry, that's past my point of diminishing returns." He told me some of his greatest pasttimes were exploring the California countryside (esp. Gold Country) and going to costume competitions. He then said some of his rivals at the masquerades gave him great ideas for game heroes and villains. The highways he took to get there gave him ideas for maps and layouts of game levels. So by being away from video games, he actually came back refreshed with hits.

on June 28, 2005 10:10 PM
# Gerald Buckley said:

Jeremy, until yesterday morning at 7:30 I had three blogs. Now I have zero (by choice). The comment spam became so overwhelming to manage that I took them all down in frustration.

I'd rather have NO blogs and no conversations than speak TO a mute crowd. :(

On the good side... I could have interviewed well the day before yesterday :)

on June 29, 2005 07:28 PM
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