(Upbeat intro music)
Amos: Welcome to Elixir Outlaws, the hallway track of the Elixir community.
Chris: I got my boom arm WD40’d.
Chris: It is lubricated. We’re good to go look. I can move this look how much I can move this back and forth away from my mouth and it just it’s – look at it
Amos: Are we going to go back to old Anna podcasts now that you lubed it up? Is it gonna do this throughout the entire
Chris: Shifts is going to continually fall, the entire show.
Anna: We might not ever see that microphone again, you guys.
Chris: That’s true, it’s gone. It’s lost.
Anna: I might never be in that office again.
Amos: That might not be a bad thing.
Chris: I have a coworker who left a nice pair of headphones at the office and just went home for the day and then was told not to come back and now he’s like, “I gotta go back and get my headphones.”
Anna: That’s funny.
Amos: Oh no.
Chris: At this point, I’m pretty sure those headphones are just gonna be gone. Somebody will see them and just be like, “Oh, those are nice.”
Amos: Was it let go – don’t come back to the office or COVID don’t come back to the office?
Chris: Oh, it was COVID don’t come back to the office.
Anna: We’re not going back anytime soon.
Amos: Nope. That’s the nice thing about my office is. I get to come back to it. Even though it’s echo-y today. I couldn’t get the podcast room ’cause I don’t have a key to it and there was nobody at the front desk.
Chris: We’re going to get so many comments about our audio quality, which will be new for us. We’ve never experienced that before.
Amos: I’ve gotta plan. I’m gonna turn and face the wall away from the microphone and just talk loudly.
Anna: There you go.
Chris: Well yeah, it’s all echo. Just add a reverb on there.
Anna: Have y’all been doing? Haven’t talked to you in a minute. Sorry – I’ve been at work. It’s been a little bit nutso. I’m on vacation this week. That’s how much I like you all. I’m talking to you on my vacation.
Amos: Are you in some place really cool?
Anna: I’m in Tahoe.
Amos: That’s really cool. I mean, you’re kind of always in Tahoe lately, but yeah.
Anna: Well, I went back to San Francisco to move. And now I’m in Tahoe.
Amos? Did you get all moved? Everything’s in the new place?
Anna: I don’t own a lot of things. I did buy an espresso machine.
Chris: Oh, how’d that go? I mean – I want to know everything about that.
Anna: The Breville double boiler. So one of our coworker’s name is Eric Ingenito – so San Francisco apt 5 is like – Coffee Nerd Central.
Chris: Yeah, that really doesn’t begin to explain the level of neurosis that go into coffee in this San Francisco office.
Amos: They drive over to Sweet Marias to pick up their coffee directly in Oakland.
Chris: We worked with the person who did know all those people at Sweet Maria’s.
Anna: Yes, and we get like. Fresh bean delivery every week or whatever. I mean, it’s ridiculous, but he was super psyched about the Breville double boiler. And it’s like not a super expensive machine, but he was it’s as good as the la linea that we have at the office.
Chris: I’m looking this up right now.
Anna: It’s a really good machine and then I got the same grinder we had in the office, the Vario and with a couple of modifications which I have to try. Eric sent me these two super nerdy coffee threads. You can make the grinder pretty amazing.
Chris: This is pretty this is. This is pretty hype.
Amos: When you’re modding your coffee equipment, you hit that level. I have a coffee roaster that I have done a lot with. Yeah, and I even had a – I used to roast with a hand crank a popcorn roaster and I even put temperature sensors down in it and had it connected to the Internet.
Anna: That’s awesome.
Chris: That’s how I started. That’s how I started. Roasting with just a hot air popcorn machine, but like one of the, you know, one of the electric or circulating ones or whatever. But you have to take those apart ’cause you gotta – They have safety mechanisms on ’em that keep him from getting hot enough. So you gotta rip those off.
Amos: Unless you buy one at an auction for like an old farm, because the ones from the 80s never stopped, no matter how hot they get.
Chris: That’s why they put the safeties on there. So I think I had mine set up so you could turn it on – I hard wired the fan into it so it was always spinning, but then I could throttle the temperature control via just like turning it on. So I became my own pit loop and I just sat there turning it on and off again.
Anna: We’ve officially become very nerdy, y’all.
Chris: I’m about to have to replace the burrs in my grinder. My now-decades-old grinder. All the burrs need to be swapped out ’cause it no longer can grind very fine. At all, so I’m not sure what’s going on in there, but I want to take it apart and fix it… Burrs are cheap though. They’re super cheap. I mean my – I have the Encore.
Anna: Oh yeah, that was a great – I had that grinder for a while. It’s a great grinder.
Chris: Yeah, and the burrs. You can replace the burrs for like $10.
Anna: That’s awesome.
Chris: Yeah, so I’m like and that’s I’m gonna try that. Immediately, ’cause that seems like a good choice.
Anna: Well, like that’s. So much cheaper than a new grinder.
Chris: Yeah, exactly, exactly. So that’s going to happen soon.
Anna: That’s awesome. Yeah, I was like, well, it’s covid forever. So I’m gonna up my coffee game and it’s been amazing. Also, the double boiler was super clutch ’cause like not having to wait for the steam. It’s really nice.
Amos: Everything can be fresh and hot, instead of sitting around waiting.
Chris: Is it a cranberry red one?
Anna: No. They have a cranberry red one.
Chris: Yeah, it’s awesome. They do on Amazon.
Amos: Link it! Link in the show notes.
Chris: Yeah, we’ll put a link in the show notes for everyone, but this is. This is – I mean. I don’t normally go for, you know, a lot of colors, but this cranberry red one I feel like is pretty. Like a nice accent piece.
Anna: That looks nice, yeah. No, I got the silver one.
Anna: I got it on sale, and it was like a good deal. Especially comparing it to like our little la linea mini at work, which is like. $5500.
Chris: Yeah, it’s a It’s it’s costly, it’s a costly thing.
Anna: No, the one I got is like was like $1000 which is still costly but. For an espresso machine – not that costly
Chris: Yeah, yeah, this fancy. Okay, I gotta put this away. Do not add to cart. Do not add to cart.
Amos: The world is falling apart I need a new espresso machine.
Chris: I’m sitting here telling myself it’s like – we’re literally on the precipice of a depression. So let’s just put this back. Let’s not put this in the cart right now.
Anna: Yeah, don’t do that. I mean, I’ve been eyeing it forever and I don’t ever buy myself expensive things, so I was like I’m doing this.
Chris: I’m not judging you at all like like, like legitimately, zero judgment. I would totally do this. It’s a good investment
Amos: If I didn’t have to convince my wife that it was a good investment, I would have already bought it this morning.
Anna: I mean, I can’t get fancy coffee anymore, so now I can make fancy coffee.
Chris: Are you gonna judge yourself when you get coffee. I mean how do you? I mean, that’s part of it is you need the judgment. You gotta have the judgment.
Anna: It’s San Francisco, where you’re paying $6 for a cup of coffee, yeah.
Chris: Yeah, but it’s made with love. And judgment. Very judgmental kind of love.
Amos: Is coffee shade-grown or sun-grown?
Chris: What kind of beans do you want? I don’t know what’s good. I’m sorry they’re both good.
Anna: They’re all good, yeah?
Amos: We wouldn’t serve coffee here if it wasn’t good.
Anna: I mean, have you ever been to Dandelion Chocolate? Have you ever had Dandelion Chocolate?
Chris: I’ve heard about it. I’ve never been there.
Anna: It’s a crafted whatever like artisanal chocolate factory in San Francisco and their chocolate is like legitimately, really good, but it’s funny. ’cause I got some as a gift and their bars have like tasting notes because it’s like single sourced cacao from wherever and then like it’s really funny. It’s kind of awesome.
Chris: The most hipster thing I’ve ever done is one time in an art gallery, I did a water tasting. And they had multiple cups of water, and I’m pretty sure I was like I as it was happening on this to me I was like. I’m getting Punk’d. Ashton Kutcher is around the corner. The chooch is here we’re ready to pop out and be like we got yeah but no it was for realz in the in the small the kid like behind the bar who’s serving these cups of water? Had on an authentic like leather canvas apron and was taking it very seriously which did not help dispel any myths about it being a punk – like. I was like all that does is reaffirm for me that there’s a hidden camera somewhere which.
Anna: Water was the best?
Chris: I don’t, I can’t… you know, the Arkansas natural stream water was pretty good. It was pretty good. They had one that had a lot of mineral content in it that I was not a fan of. Personally.
Amos: It was barrel aged for 14 years?
Chris: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. In Sherry Casks.
Anna: Oh my God. That is hilarious.
Amos: I, I think after like the third water I would have just pretended that I was starting to get drunk. Be like somewhere like, gosh, this vodka. It’s so smooth.
Chris: I have a picture of it somewhere. Maybe that’ll maybe the maybe that picture will be the the show art.
Anna: Oh yeah, there we go.
Anna: Back when we were in the time where we could be outside and you know, talk to other people.
Anna: Exactly, but who knows when that’s gonna be again?
Chris: Well, you know, probably in 2021.
Anna: Maybe? You know I was reading a tweet. Somebody said something like somebody bought a 2021 calendar from us the other day. They’re an optimist.
Chris: They’re gonna have so many things to schedule.
Amos: You’re gonna make it.
Chris: I was telling somebody the other day, but I do in a very weird sense. In a very, very specific sense, I feel like I am living partially my best life under quarantine. Because you don’t have to go out and do things. I don’t have to go out and do things I actually have way more engagements with my friends. Cause we like play games online now and like nobody ever would have started playing games online prior to this. In some ways, I’m sort of like. You know, I’m really happy with some of the life things that have come out. I’m not happy – so everybody’s talking about, you know, picking up their quarantine habits like new – sort of hobbies and stuff like that. And I haven’t really developed any sort of quarantine hobbies per se, and less you count low grade constant general anxiety. In which case. I have definitely picked up a hobby totally. Which is basically just being nervous all the time. So in that regard, it’s a real downer. It’s a really. It’s really not good, but I am, you know, playing games with friends now, which is fun.
Amos: All my friends are playing Counterstrike again.
Anna: I feel like yeah for me also, like weird silver linings, not the low-grade anxiety. That’s a real thing for me also. But like there are many. I’m like up here in the mountains and it’s gorgeous. And it’s such a privileged thing to be able to do. But there are so many years where I never came up here in the summertime because just work – and like last night, I have a friend visiting who’s also been quarantined. And like there’s a meteor shower last night, so we like drove out to like a Meadow and like hung out and just like looked at the stars. And I was like. Pre-quarantine I would have just been working all the time.
Chris: Right, did you go see the Perseids?
Anna: That’s exactly what it was and it was amazing. We saw some really – it was beautiful and I’m like I meant we were like at 8,000 feet and it was like in the meadow ’cause I’m in the mountains, right? So like there’s no light pollution.
Amos I’m very jealous of you.
Chris: My daughter and I attempted to see neowise for a whole week and it was raining here the entire week and we could never find like a night like at the perfect time and we have a lot of light pollution not far from us, so we never managed to see it, but it was fun going out. Yeah, and being able. Just go out late at night.
Anna: That water photo is hilarious, Keathley.
Chris: Yeah, that’s the show art so everybody will get to see it. It’s an Elixir podcast that water is a base component Elixir of alchemy. From what I understand.
Anna: A little bit of a stretch, but yes.
Amos: And it has three Elixirs. Drops on it.
Chris: Exactly the concern – it’s on-brand.
Anna: We’re always on brand, y’all.
Chris: When your brand is not having a brand, you can always be on-brand. It’s like expectations. You want to set them low.
Anna: We’re just digging a trench for the bar – we haven’t set it yet. We’re still digging.
Chris: Like our audio quality.
Amos: Hey how’s this? How’s the sound?
Chris: At least your boom arm isn’t just falling constantly.
Anna: You all miss my microphone.
Chris: Yeah, it’s just ’cause it’s it was like a game. Watching you constantly try to lift the boom arm back up.
Anna: Good times.
Amos: So. Coffee machines and modding.
Chris: Yes, are you try to steer us onto a real conversation here? What’s going on?
Amos: I was going to ask you if you’re one of those people, that’s like – You get into a technology and you’re like I wish everything in my house ran on that technology.
Chris: No, absolutely not. I’m the opposite of that.
Amos: You learn too much about it you’re like – oh my gosh.
Chris: Yeah, I’m that, but whatever the flip of it is.
Amos: Yeah, yeah
Chris: Take that you take that, reverse it. That’s what I am.
Amos: I know too many things about how this could break, so it needs to be something else.
Chris: Yeah, or just like I know too many ways that this is spying on me. I know like I know too many ways that this is like violating some sort of human rights somewhere and I will not be part of it.
Amos: Oh, I didn’t know what you’re talking about. Bitcoin now?
Chris: Oh, yeah.
Amos: Who needs icebergs…So on a serious note though, um just I’ve been trying to figure out where – I’m doing a lot of interviewing of people, right? And I’m trying to figure out –
Anna: Oh, are you hiring?
Amos: I am hiring.
Anna: Oh, for what?
Amos: Mid-level developer?
Chris: His company.
Anna: Well, I don’t know… I didn’t want to assume – I don’t know what role.
Amos: Yeah, uh, so I want to hire a mid-level developer.
Anna: I assumed it was for his company.
Amos: And then a junior developer after that.
Anna: Thanks, Keathley, for the explanation.
Amos: So we have somebody…
Anna: We’re not listening to you, Amos, say that again?
Amos: That’s fine. I’m just talking to myself. This is just like talking to my kids.
Anna: Well, I was waiting for Keathley to explain to me ’cause I didn’t understand what you were hiring.
Amos (mocking Chris): Well, actually when he’s trying to do is…
Anna: I love it. So – you’re hiring a mid-level.
Amos: Mid-level developer and then within like six months of that, I’d like to add a junior developer to try to round out like the whole team. Yeah, and then start on a second team.
Amos: Uh, yeah, I mean – I would love to have somebody who’s here in Kansas City. I mean, let’s face it though. Even if they were in Kansas City right now, they would probably be remote. Yeah, I mean, I have a giant office and I come to work and there’s somebody else that does.
Anna: Connor’s remote, right?
Amos: Connors is remote. Connor lives in California, so. He likes the beach too much. And he came here once and he saw the river and he didn’t count it as a beach. So I mean.
Anna: Yes, ’cause it’s not. It’s a river.
Amos: There is a beach on the side of the river.
Anna: Of these things is not like the other. There’s a beach in Tahoe. There’s a lake.
Chris: You can’t bring a silt and sand into an area, dump it on the ground and be like we have a beach now. That’s not math, that’s not how that works.
Anna: Is it not how that works?
Chris: That’s not how that works.
Amos: Can I go back to my topic? I really could use your help.
Chris and Anna: Sorry.
Anna: We’re very focused today.
Amos: I’m not really but I’m trying to be… No, it’s a – Like I want to pair with people during an interview and it’s not like a – I don’t want to do a – I’m not really trying to figure out technical skills that much. More like how are we going to work together? But coming up with a problem that you can get through pretty well in an hour and see how it’s going to be to work with somebody has been really tough for me in Elixir.
Chris: Why is that?
Amos: Um, ’cause I feel like if I don’t touch OTP –
Chris: What? that’s not funny. This is a legitimate question!
Amos: It is, it is.
Chris: Well, I’m sorry, was something I said funny?
Amos: Anna’s been at a water tasting this morning, I think.
Anna: Yeah, that was really funny.
Amos No, it’s it’s like I feel like we should do something with OTP and then I’m like, nah, we can do something small.
Anna: But do you? Why do you feel like you need to do something with OTP?
Chris: I thought you literally just said You weren’t hiring a technical skills.
Amos: I’m not, I know and, but. But I feel like everything else is so minimal that I don’t. There’s not even much of a problem to work through together. Like if I’m like, hey, let’s – so, this morning I had. I did an interview. It was 8:00 AM, so I had to pick something really light. And I said, given a list of integers, what’s the smallest integer that’s missing? And let’s try to do that and. Then you know we did go through and say, OK, well we if we sort them and then map them to their index and then when it doesn’t match its index. It’s it that’s the missing one, but. That steps through things multiple times. So then we got into talking about how we could functionally split it and that was great and I think it worked well. And was small and allowed us to talk back and forth, but it I just felt like something was missing. I don’t know.
Anna: What do you feel like was missing? Like? What about the candidate? Do you feel like you don’t have a good grasp of?
Amos: I guess. I felt like there wasn’t really a lot of problem solving. So I really still feel like I don’t know how we would solve problems together well.
Anna: I mean, how long is the interview?
Amos: An hour.
Anna: Are you gonna get that from an hour?
Amos: Um, I feel like I have before in the past, so when I did I – so a lot of times when I do an interview in like a OO language. I’ll say, let’s build a stack. And assume there are no arrays in the language. So you have to build your own nodes and stuff like that. And we write tests for it and. I felt like that exercise seemed to. It was a little more complex than just find the smallest number in a list. But not, but not too complex that you couldn’t do it in an hour.
Chris: I mean, maybe part of it is that the problem you picked was bad, which happens all the time. I mean, people pick terrible interview problems all the time. I think as a rule you can expect that most interview questions are bad.
Amos: At some point, yeah.
Chris: They’re also like self-fulfilling. Like if you know like if you read cracking the coding interview or whatever that book was called – it’s is a good book. Like it’s it’s a good book but like it’s.
Anna: It’s a good book to teach you a bunch of crap that you don’t actually need though.
Chris: Well, it’s also like a good book if what you want to do is get a job at Google. ‘Cause that’s the context of it. Which, I mean, maybe that’s a goal for somebody.
Anna: If you want to learn like solutions to specific algorithms that you may or may not use ever. Yes, it’s good book.
Chris: But also that becomes self-fulfilling because people study that book. They get jobs and then they use their like well that helped me get a job here, and I’ll just – and coming up with interview questions is hard and so then they go get questions from that book. And then it becomes like a self-fulfilling thing like that’s pretty documented.
Amos: I just pulled mine out of thin air and was like I don’t. I’m not even sure how I would do it and I thought that was good for the approach.
Anna: Interviewing is hard in general, but like I think an hour long – I think it’s actually really hard to gauge someone’s problem solving capability in an hour. ‘Cause I feel like I’ve seen candidates where they’re really good in like a hour long problem solving session. And then you start pairing with them for like, let’s say a four-hour session on like a real feature on a like an application and like it’s not good right? So I think it’s just really hard to gauge and I wonder if like – again your time is valuable and their time is valuable, but I feel like the best, at least I’ve seen, is like if you can. If you can extend it and pair with somebody on building, not just solving a problem, but like trying to build something – right. Like if you have an application that’s. Even if it’s a toy application, like OK, we’re going to implement this thing in this application. It doesn’t matter if you finish it.
Amos: We did have an interview at another company that I worked at where we interviewed somebody and I talked to my manager into putting them on like a one day contract and just paying them for 8 hours to come in and work with us. That was the best. That was the best, yeah.
Chris: I mean we used to do – so at Carbon 5, in Chattanooga anyway, we would do and I think this is actually what I interviewed with when I interviewed at Carbon 5. We did an extended period of like actually pairing on a real problem in as much as that was possible given the nature of the contract. Sometimes contracts are like NDA’s and stuff like that and so like as long as you don’t have that kind of thing then they would actually pair on a real problem. And the other half was doing a toy problem, and that was like this sort of – the toy problem was the first gate essentially and the toy problem when I did it was Pig Latin like you had to build a Pig Latin translator.
Anna: Yeah, we do that very early. I mean, we do another thing now, which is like tennis building. Which is just an interesting problem.
Amos: Like tennis scoring or…?
Anna: Tennis scoring. It’s weird, but in every iteration add constraints.
Chris: Yeah, and that was how Pig Latin works too. It was like translate this word and you prepare on it. So in your case, as the interviewer you would write a test case for them. And then you know, work with them to solve it and the cool thing about those problems is that you build on them iteratively. You don’t have to sort of – You can really guide that, but it also takes skill as the interviewer to like – you have to be really clear about how you’re presenting the problem and then using the knowledge that you gain in context because depending on how good you are at facilitating that, that person is either going to super get it or not, basically just depending on how well you are, how good you are at explaining the problem, and if you suck at explaining the problem and then they don’t understand what you’re asking and they don’t know how to solve it, and then you go well, they sucked at solving this problem. It’s like that’s not that was not an accurate representation of what actually happened. So we would do that and that was fun because it’s a thing that everybody knows. Like you, you pick a problem that either you either everybody understands it or everybody understands that it’s weird and you may not know all the rules like tennis like. I actually don’t know that I could explain the rules of tennis – like the scoring for tennis. But I know they’re weird and I know that it’s numbers that increase up until it becomes love.
Anna: Well, no, it starts at love.
Chris: I clearly don’t know the rules already.
Anna: The nice thing is like – it’s actually better if somebody doesn’t, right, because then you’re just like you kind of explain the overview and like how the problem works. You don’t have to understand the rules of tennis.
Amos: Like working on a real project, a new one.
Anna: I mean like the testing is great, but like my point is you don’t understand tennis, right? The interview could just give you the constraints that you iterate on right? Like it’s like we’re building this thing. I think it’s a good problem because it allows for a lot of – because you can iterate similarly to the Pig Latin thing on it and kind of see how somebody is thinking.
Chris: And there’s a bunch of ways to solve it too. And I think it’s really, really important to not apply your biases, or rather, to be aware that you have biases and to not look for a solution, but to look for the things like – at least at C5 when I was running that problem for candidates, the thing I was looking for and I would tell them that I was looking for before we even started. You know, I would say I actually don’t really care how you solve this problem. What I am going to be, what we’re kind of trying to determine here, is how well that you and I can work together and how well you can explain your thought process exactly, because at C5, that was important ’cause we were always pairing with with clients and so being able to sit there and hold a client like kind of hold their attention and be able to work well with them to be able to go into a situation to work with somebody who never worked with before – that was actually an important part of the job, so I would state that for them up front – that’s what I’m looking for. I’m going to probably push you on some technical things only because that will create an interesting conversation for us and it would just like tell them all that stuff up front. ’cause That’s important for them to understand it too – to understanding what the rubric is. What they’re being graded on.
Anna: To Keathley’s point, like letting go of the bias around the solution, and if you’re really looking for how they problem solve, like paying attention to that right – like their thought process right? Because like learning to solve problems in a particular way or learning to work with a particular stack or learning like – all of that can be learned, right, and especially for like you want someone who like – you get an understanding of how they think about problems and whether or not that’s going to work, you know, or how they communicate specifically. Communication is really hard, right? That’s a really good point. Like how they communicate their thinking, ’cause that’s critical to being able to work well with.
Chris: And in certain jobs – maybe is the most important thing that you know how to – that you don’t need to ever talk to anybody and actually you just need to know how to build hash maps or you need to be able to reverse linked lists or whatever, right? I don’t personally think that that’s true.
Anna: When have you ever needed to reverse a linked list?
Chris: Uh, not often. Not that often. As it turns out, but all that to say – there’s probably a job where somebody does.
Anna: Totally, and I was a little bit flippant when I was like Cracking the Coding Interview is dumb.
Chris: I mean it kind of is.
Amos: Depends on what you want to do with it? I think if you’re. If you’re working on like embedded systems a lot of times – those things get really important. So that’s like the thing I look for.
Chris: Are they, though?
Anna: Those things can be learned, right. Does somebody need to know them coming into the job?
Amos: No, as long as as long as somebody or a couple of people on the team, know those things, or at least know how to find them – you’re usually good to go, so I look for the same things that you guys said and then there was one other thing that I often try to look for is like after we have a solution analyzing and picking apart our own solution. Like can we do that and how? How does a person handle any sort of criticism of it? Like do they try to wash it away and say oh well that doesn’t matter? Or do they try to hear you out? And I don’t mean negative criticism.
Anna: I think you get the same thing from just pairing on building something for real. Without picking something apart, like you get the same thing with like – because when you’re working on something, you’re collaborating and you can be like, well, I have this – like you can. You can kind of let them lead, right? But if you don’t like where they’re going be like. Have you considered this approach? You can see how they react to that right? Because like even just that, just like no, my way or the highway. Or like, yeah, let’s talk about it like why do you think that? Well, that is very telling about how somebody works with somebody and how somebody communicates right right? And it’s not, it’s not complicated. It’s not a lot, but you can very quickly tell what it might be like, right? Or how somebody navigates uncertainty, jumping into a new codebase. Especially ’cause you do consulting, right? Like so jumping into a new problem, like figuring it out like in an existing code base like started. Where do they start? What do they look for like? How do they approach testing? It’s very telling. More so than like an hour of solving a specific problem. So if you can, I feel like if you can and if you have the bandwidth to like let’s work on a thing for a few hours, that’s much better in my opinion.
Chris: And you know that’s another way to – I mean the most ridiculous story that ever happened. When I was interviewing somebody is we had – I mean it was. It was a long time. Let’s be clear. We were going to work on a real problem together like and that I think it was like 3 hours there were like to like work on a real problem for a real client with us, right and I get that that’s a long time. But this was a person who did not – who was just out of college and did not have a job and wanted a job. And I was like OK and – I know what I did – I know all the things that I did to get jobs when I was starting. They straight up just quit halfway through. They just like put their head on the desk and did not pick it up again. And then like wandered around the room and like did not come back to like help me and it was. And at that point I was like, “Okay”. Well, this person just can’t hack it like can’t work here and like you learn those sorts of things. And it’s like. I get that that’s not necessarily fair, but like. I don’t know. You get like one shot at interviewing and stuff like that and then like.
Anna: Well, especially if you’re interviewing more junior candidates, right? What you’re looking for is like willingness to learn, ability to stick with it. Like the ability to want to work through a hard problem, even if it doesn’t make sense, because that’s going to happen a lot, right? Like when you think about it, especially with junior candidates, you can’t expect experience, right? Because they don’t have experience, and so what you’re looking for is listening, communication, aptitude to like understand what you’re trying to communicate, how do they communicate their own thinking, like how you know – are they willing to try and work through the thing and what is their attitude as they’re doing that. Right like – that’s also very telling.
Chris: Can you just stick with a problem even when the problem gets hard?
Anna: ‘Cause we’ve all been there. We’re just like – Computer, I’m telling you, do the right thing, but you’re not doing the right thing. And then you realize that you’re telling the computer to do the wrong thing, but like it takes a while to figure it out. And that takes some level of like willingness to stick with it.
Chris: I think there’s also. I mean, I kind of want to go back to something that you were you mentioned, Amos, not to, you know, put you on blast, but you said something interesting, which is that you felt like it was much easier to interview people in OO languages. And I wonder, you know – we haven’t talked a whole lot. But I feel like I know you a little bit. Yeah, at this point you know we’ve only talked a couple a handful of times, but I feel like – you went really hard into like Ruby and OO principles and like you – you went deep on some of that stuff. And that probably coincided with a specific part of your career. Like a specific time in your career where that was important to you and I wonder to which and you would have – you would, you would be the only one who would know this. But I wonder to which interviewing in those languages was easier for you because you cleaved closer to an established set of rights and wrongs when it came to OO design and OO languages like you knew a lot more about it. Like you, you understood it more and you had in your head a framework for how you ought to be building object oriented systems. Ruby systems, what have you? Like – because you had gone deep. And I wonder to which you know – and not to say that you have not gone deep on Elixir. But I also get the sense from, you know, the one or two times that we’ve talked that you don’t care as much about those rules. Uh, in Elixir an that probably has way more to do with where you are in your career than it does about Elixir or functional programming. Like we’ve talked about TDD before, and you know you like TDD, you’ve done a lot of TDD, but you don’t necessarily cleave to TDD as the one true way to build systems anymore that you might have in a previous incarnation of you.
Amos: Yeah, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t necessarily worry about somebody else doing it, but I still really…
Chris: All that to say that like yeah – you might have a lot more gray in your opinion of what it means to build good software these days. Then you used to and thus it’s not really a function of OO…
Anna: Or functional programming for that matter, right? Like my question is like- it doesn’t have to, specially if somebody is coming in as like mid-level but doesn’t have a ton of functional programming experience. It’s just like what are you testing for? Functional programming is a pattern, right? It can be learned just like anything else, right? Like it’s just a different way of writing code, right? But like and it – you know it – It depends on like again, what are you testing for when you’re interviewing?
Amos: Right, and I’m not at. Like I said Before, I’m not really after technical skills, but I want a problem that’s difficult enough that we’re not done in 10 minutes.
Anna: Right, I mean I think building anything is gonna give you more if you’re – like I don’t know. Like some of the stuff we’re building, we’re like, well, we need you know some of these problems were like – especially coming into a new system were like, well we need to add whatever. Whatever you whatever you want to build or embedded systems like. If you think of like a small thing that you would build to add to your like, that’ll take anybody new who is not familiar with the codebase a few hours right? And like building is so much more than just solving the problem, it’s like how do you navigate an existing code base you know, like – how proficient is somebody and just like jumping in and thinking about it? And how do they think about that? Where do they start? Like all of that is really important and really telling it has nothing to do with the problem yourself. But I think speaks to how much experience someone actually has in working on any given project.
Amos: And I think – I have internal projects too, so like, even if the client isn’t here, we have things to do.
Anna: I mean, we used to work on internal projects as well at C5. There was one that was like, long running and people would just pick up over and over and keep building on branches. Nothing got merged in, right, but it was just like. “Right, let’s work on this thing.”
Chris: Right, yeah, and I guess – I bring all that stuff up about OO just to say – I wonder…
Anna: ‘Cause you’re mean?… Just kidding.
Chris: No, no, no, yeah, ‘cause I’m a jerk. I just wonder if maybe there’s some amount of unconscious bias happening there that maybe you – and I may be way off base on that. Maybe that’s project on my own part. ‘Cause I know that’s how I feel about my own career. And where now I feel like it is – when things are less clear about right and wrong, it’s much harder to judge – so I don’t know. That’s just something to consider. I have no idea if that’s correct or not.
Amos: And I think a lot of it is – I understand the complexity of how long it takes to – it’s easier for me to pick a problem in OO where I know ‘this is probably going to take about an hour’ – and in a functional mindset I’m like ‘oh, this might take about an hour’ and it takes ten minutes or it takes four hours – like. I don’t have that level of judgment.
Anna: I think it’s going back ot like, what skills are you looking for and how do you facilitate that? It’s not so much about the problem that you’re trying to solve, right? The problem is a conduit to understanding – to trying to learn more about this person.
Chris: And being clear. Being clear with them about what it is – that’s also super important. Stating clearly to the candidate what it is that you’re looking for – like, doing that up front and being really clear about what is you having a job at this company look like and how this interview is going to go, specifically the things I’m looking for, the things I’m not looking for, and being honest about that – like, don’t hold that close. There’s no reason to do that. Not saying that you do, but like. For the people who are listening. Don’t do that.
Amos: I think I could clarify it. I do try to tell them, but I think it’d be better if it was like a bulleted list.
Chris: I think that’s honestly very reasonable. And that allows them to tailor their expectations and it gets a feel for what it’s going to be like to actually have to work with you. And you know, interviewing is hard. So like actually putting a – many people are not good at it, so being able to focus your energy and your mental capacities onto specific things that you want to show and demonstrate that you’re qualified at – that’s important.
Anna: And it’s not going to be easy. But I think going back to like ‘what are the things you’re looking to get out of this’ is an important place to start.
Chris: Well, unfortunately, I have to run.
Anna: I should too, actually, but it was lovely to catch up with you all.
Amos: Well, I’ll stay and podcast a little bit.
Chris: Well, listen, I’m not going to tell you how to live your life…
Anna: Keep us posted. Let us know how the interviews are going. I’m curious to see how that goes.
Chris: Yeah, good luck on it.
Amos: Yeah, thank you. We have way more resumes than the two full-time developers have time to actually go through, so it’s been slow.
Anna: Alright, y’all. See you later.