Turning tables on interviewer

Discussion in 'Java' started by jan V, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. jan V

    jan V Guest

    I recently had an unpleasant experience accepting an in-house job for a pure
    Java company, only to quickly discover that I had landed myself in a
    nightmare sweat shop. I actually blame myself for not having asked enough
    probing questions at the interview stage.

    I'd like to avoid making the same mistake in the future, so now I've drawn
    up a list of questions I'll be asking the interviewer(s) in the future, and
    wonder if any of you can suggest more of the same...? (For the [OT] police,
    see end of list for Java-specific content! ;-)

    Here's the list:

    Financial/Benefits
    At least 4300 Bruto without car. [This figure is Belgium-specific,
    please ignore]
    At least 4000 Bruto with car. [This figure is Belgium-specific, please
    ignore]
    Company pension and/or health insurance scheme?
    What's the company's financial health?
    Do you regularly disclose financial performance statistics to your
    employees? How frequently?
    What proportion of time do you spend on inward investment (research,
    projects not directly funded by clients)
    How frequently are there pay reviews? Is this frequency part of the
    employment contract?

    Company Culture / Working Atmosphere
    What are the job titles (junior, plain, senior, project leader..?)
    Invest in training? How frequently?
    Book library?
    Attitude to quality?
    Attitude to process improvements? (SEI CMM Level?)
    Time sheets?
    Flexitime?
    Dress code?
    Obligatory travel?
    Where to?
    Recuperation for significant TZ crossing?
    Compensatory arrangements?
    Internal email used a lot?
    Yes? -> BAD.. suppresses person-to-person communication, team spirit
    Health/Safety/Comfort
    RSI-aware, RSI-safe?
    Ergonomic keyboard, gfx tablet
    Rest breaks
    Air conditioning
    Tea/coffee machine?
    Room set-up?
    How many people to a room?
    Rooms have windows? (Peopleware)
    Meetings?
    How often?
    What kind?
    Canteen?
    What regular activities are there after hours?

    Physical Tools
    Fast machine? (3.0Ghz+)
    Screen
    One or two ?
    TFT or CRT?
    Size? At least 19 inch
    Project Tools
    Requirements tracking? How?
    What Design tools? (UML MagicDraw?)
    CVS or similar?
    IDE? IntelliJ, Eclipse,..
    Code qualtiy analysis? Used? How frequently?
    Profilers?
    Bug tracking?

    Software Engineering
    Explicit concentrating on early stages?
    Do you use whiteboards or other large-surface drawing areas for
    analysis/design? How frequently?
    Extreme Programming? Any elements of?
    Use cases?
    Write tests first?
    Can you describe your coding guidelines?
    What degree of enforcement do you use?
    Do you use Sun's Java naming convention?
    If not, what's the naming convention?
    Refactoring?
    What's your attitude to code duplication?
    What's your attitude to code reuse?
    How do you achieve reusability? At what source code scale do you
    achieve it? (packages, classes, methods?)
    What's your attitude to Java package hierarchy issues?
    What's your attitude to javadocs? Do you enforce the need for javadocs
    for all public classes? How about all methods?
    Automated GUI testing?
    Code reviews?
    How frequently?
    How many people?
    jan V, Aug 13, 2005
    #1
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  2. jan V

    fartymcfly Guest

    On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 09:08:47 +0000, jan V wrote:

    > I recently had an unpleasant experience accepting an in-house job for a pure
    > Java company, only to quickly discover that I had landed myself in a
    > nightmare sweat shop. I actually blame myself for not having asked enough
    > probing questions at the interview stage.
    >
    > I'd like to avoid making the same mistake in the future, so now I've drawn
    > up a list of questions I'll be asking the interviewer(s) in the future, and
    > wonder if any of you can suggest more of the same...? (For the [OT] police,
    > see end of list for Java-specific content! ;-)
    >
    > Here's the list:
    >
    > Financial/Benefits
    > At least 4300 Bruto without car. [This figure is Belgium-specific,
    > please ignore]
    > At least 4000 Bruto with car. [This figure is Belgium-specific, please
    > ignore]
    > Company pension and/or health insurance scheme?
    > What's the company's financial health?
    > Do you regularly disclose financial performance statistics to your
    > employees? How frequently?
    > What proportion of time do you spend on inward investment (research,
    > projects not directly funded by clients)
    > How frequently are there pay reviews? Is this frequency part of the
    > employment contract?
    >
    > Company Culture / Working Atmosphere
    > What are the job titles (junior, plain, senior, project leader..?)
    > Invest in training? How frequently?
    > Book library?
    > Attitude to quality?
    > Attitude to process improvements? (SEI CMM Level?)
    > Time sheets?
    > Flexitime?
    > Dress code?
    > Obligatory travel?
    > Where to?
    > Recuperation for significant TZ crossing?
    > Compensatory arrangements?
    > Internal email used a lot?
    > Yes? -> BAD.. suppresses person-to-person communication, team spirit
    > Health/Safety/Comfort
    > RSI-aware, RSI-safe?
    > Ergonomic keyboard, gfx tablet
    > Rest breaks
    > Air conditioning
    > Tea/coffee machine?
    > Room set-up?
    > How many people to a room?
    > Rooms have windows? (Peopleware)
    > Meetings?
    > How often?
    > What kind?
    > Canteen?
    > What regular activities are there after hours?
    >
    > Physical Tools
    > Fast machine? (3.0Ghz+)
    > Screen
    > One or two ?
    > TFT or CRT?
    > Size? At least 19 inch
    > Project Tools
    > Requirements tracking? How?
    > What Design tools? (UML MagicDraw?)
    > CVS or similar?
    > IDE? IntelliJ, Eclipse,..
    > Code qualtiy analysis? Used? How frequently?
    > Profilers?
    > Bug tracking?
    >
    > Software Engineering
    > Explicit concentrating on early stages?
    > Do you use whiteboards or other large-surface drawing areas for
    > analysis/design? How frequently?
    > Extreme Programming? Any elements of?
    > Use cases?
    > Write tests first?
    > Can you describe your coding guidelines?
    > What degree of enforcement do you use?
    > Do you use Sun's Java naming convention?
    > If not, what's the naming convention?
    > Refactoring?
    > What's your attitude to code duplication?
    > What's your attitude to code reuse?
    > How do you achieve reusability? At what source code scale do you
    > achieve it? (packages, classes, methods?)
    > What's your attitude to Java package hierarchy issues?
    > What's your attitude to javadocs? Do you enforce the need for javadocs
    > for all public classes? How about all methods?
    > Automated GUI testing?
    > Code reviews?
    > How frequently?
    > How many people?


    Hi,

    Id hate to see you spec for a sexual partner ;)

    regards,

    fartymcfly
    fartymcfly, Aug 14, 2005
    #2
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  3. jan V

    James Yong Guest

    "jan V" <> wrote in message
    news:zMiLe.168423$-ops.be...
    > I recently had an unpleasant experience accepting an in-house job for a

    pure
    > Java company, only to quickly discover that I had landed myself in a
    > nightmare sweat shop. I actually blame myself for not having asked enough
    > probing questions at the interview stage.

    The probation period is also a time for you to see whether you like the job
    or not ;-)
    James Yong, Aug 14, 2005
    #3
  4. jan V

    jan V Guest

    > > I recently had an unpleasant experience accepting an in-house job for a
    > pure
    > > Java company, only to quickly discover that I had landed myself in a
    > > nightmare sweat shop. I actually blame myself for not having asked

    enough
    > > probing questions at the interview stage.

    > The probation period is also a time for you to see whether you like the

    job or not ;-)

    Prevention is better than curing. Quitting a job during the probation period
    has the following unwanted side-effects:

    o another short entry on your CV. How many more before your CV becomes
    really problematic ?

    o if you arranged for local accomodation (flat rental), you're left with a
    flat to deal with too

    o if the interview stage can weed out nightmare employers, then why not? Why
    put yourself through more nonsense?

    o quitting a job involves some emotional element, and I don't think that's
    healthy, especially not when some kind of pattern emerges. Prevention is
    better than curing !
    jan V, Aug 14, 2005
    #4
  5. jan V

    Roedy Green Guest

    On Sun, 14 Aug 2005 10:58:16 GMT, fartymcfly
    <> wrote or quoted :

    >
    >Id hate to see you spec for a sexual partner ;)


    You want that information, but it makes you sound like a deadbeat to
    focus on that sort of thing.

    If you want the job, the way to take charge of the interview is to
    presume you already have the job and this is your first day and you
    are asking the questions needed to get started. This will indirectly
    answer many of the questions you have on your list.

    It is a standard selling technique, presume the customer has already
    said yes to the sale.

    You sound eager. You come across the exact opposite of a slacker. You
    learn some detail.

    You can say things like, "I want to make sure this job is challenging
    enough.". In a stroke they stop worrying if you can handle the job,
    and start worrying if you are overqualified.
    Roedy Green, Aug 14, 2005
    #5
  6. jan V

    Roedy Green Guest

    On Sun, 14 Aug 2005 15:40:29 GMT, "jan V" <> wrote or quoted
    :

    >o if the interview stage can weed out nightmare employers, then why not? Why
    >put yourself through more nonsense?


    How can you avoid that other than with detective work talking to
    people who have left?
    Roedy Green, Aug 14, 2005
    #6
  7. jan V

    jan V Guest

    > If you want the job, the way to take charge of the interview is to
    > presume you already have the job and this is your first day and you
    > are asking the questions needed to get started. This will indirectly
    > answer many of the questions you have on your list.
    >
    > It is a standard selling technique, presume the customer has already
    > said yes to the sale.
    >
    > You sound eager. You come across the exact opposite of a slacker. You
    > learn some detail.
    >
    > You can say things like, "I want to make sure this job is challenging
    > enough.". In a stroke they stop worrying if you can handle the job,
    > and start worrying if you are overqualified.


    Hmm.. very interesting approach. I'm not the natural salesman type (wouldn't
    be here if I was, would I?), but I can see the sense in using some
    psychology to get the information out of them in a less "And here's my list
    of questions, if you don't mind.."
    jan V, Aug 14, 2005
    #7
  8. jan V

    jan V Guest

    > >o if the interview stage can weed out nightmare employers, then why not?
    Why
    > >put yourself through more nonsense?

    >
    > How can you avoid that other than with detective work talking to
    > people who have left?


    And how do you propose one finds out who has left a prospective company
    BEFORE actually joining it? That's kind of hard... I'm not Kevin Metnick, so
    I'm not an expert social engineer: "Oh, is this Acme Inc.? Yes, ah, yes, I'm
    John, from human resources... yes.. I'm new here... eh.. I was wondering if
    I could get the names of the people who left your department in the past
    6-12 months. We seem to have lost that information, here at "human
    resources".."

    ;-)
    jan V, Aug 14, 2005
    #8
  9. jan V

    Oliver Wong Guest

    "Roedy Green" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > You can say things like, "I want to make sure this job is challenging
    > enough.". In a stroke they stop worrying if you can handle the job,
    > and start worrying if you are overqualified.


    I was pretty desperate for a job. I have a degree in computer science
    but I was applying essentially for a gopher position (run around delivering
    documents to desks). I actually wrote up a custom resume for this job where
    I basically said I had no skills, no experience, and I'm just a recent
    college graduate with a degree.

    So in the interview, they asked me what kind of degree I got, and I told
    them computer science, and they told me I was overqualified, so I didn't get
    the job.

    Damn.

    - Oliver
    Oliver Wong, Aug 15, 2005
    #9
  10. jan V wrote:
    > I recently had an unpleasant experience accepting an in-house job for a pure
    > Java company, only to quickly discover that I had landed myself in a
    > nightmare sweat shop. I actually blame myself for not having asked enough
    > probing questions at the interview stage.
    >
    > I'd like to avoid making the same mistake in the future, so now I've drawn
    > up a list of questions I'll be asking the interviewer(s) in the future, and
    > wonder if any of you can suggest more of the same...? (For the [OT] police,
    > see end of list for Java-specific content! ;-)
    >


    Jan,

    I regularly do interviews for my company. We always ask the interviewee
    if he or she has any questions towards the end of the interview. Not
    having any questions is usually viewed negatively. Any of the questions
    you listed would not be unusual or cause any difficulty. We are also
    looking to make sure that the candidate is a fit for our corporate culture.

    Do you have quite a number of questions there however. It may be best
    to try to get some of them answered over the phone with human resources
    either before or after the interview. Also, you could ask more open
    ended questions to try to get more of your questions answered in one go.
    (You might also learn some things you didn't expect.)

    FWIW, I am located in the US. The culture may be different in Belgium.

    Ray

    --
    XML is the programmer's duct tape.
    Raymond DeCampo, Aug 17, 2005
    #10
  11. jan V

    . Guest

    On Sat, 13 Aug 2005, jan V wrote:

    > I recently had an unpleasant experience accepting an in-house job for a pure
    > Java company, only to quickly discover that I had landed myself in a
    > nightmare sweat shop. I actually blame myself for not having asked enough
    > probing questions at the interview stage.
    >
    > I'd like to avoid making the same mistake in the future, so now I've drawn
    > up a list of questions I'll be asking the interviewer(s) in the future, and
    > wonder if any of you can suggest more of the same...? (For the [OT] police,
    > see end of list for Java-specific content! ;-)


    I spent two years interviewing companies for a good position. Rather than
    ask a lot of detailed questions I found I could ask some questions that
    immediately identified some companies as a sweatshop.

    First, if they don't let you ask any questions they are probably a
    sweatshop.

    If they let you ask questions, start off by asking if it is okay that you
    take notes. They always said "yes" for me. Making it apparent you are
    keeping notes means they cannot just say whatever they want. They tend to
    choose their words more carefully.

    Ask them how they handle overtime. The company I currently work for told
    me they view overtime as a failure of project management. No one has
    worked overtime in the past 3 years. I've worked here for a year and never
    done overtime. We either change scope, change the timeline or hire more
    people.

    Most sweatshops will either be honest because they believe being a
    sweatshop is the norm. Easily eliminated. Some shops try to hide it but
    you can tell because they are nervous or vague in their answer. Ask for
    clarification if they are vague. If you have to ask for clarification more
    than twice they are probably a sweatshop.

    Ask them about the reporting structure. If you are not being interviewed
    by the person you report to then you want to have a chance to talk to this
    person. If he is too busy to talk to you then assume he'll be too busy
    when you become an employee.

    > Here's the list:
    >
    > Financial/Benefits
    > At least 4300 Bruto without car. [This figure is Belgium-specific,
    > please ignore]
    > At least 4000 Bruto with car. [This figure is Belgium-specific, please
    > ignore]
    > Company pension and/or health insurance scheme?


    I never ask questions about compensation during the interview. When they
    offer me the job I expect a package detailing all the compensation. At
    that time I will ask HR about anything not clear in the offer letter.

    > What's the company's financial health?


    If they are publically traded you can find this out by doing a little
    research. Even if they are not publically traded you can still do some
    research. I tend to research the company before I go in for the interview.
    I'll ask deeper questions based on my research. This sends a clear signal
    to the employer that I have done research on the company.

    > Do you regularly disclose financial performance statistics to your
    > employees? How frequently?


    If the research bears no fruit then this is a good question. I rarely got
    far enough to ask this question. Most the time I've eliminated the
    employer by this point.

    > What proportion of time do you spend on inward investment (research,
    > projects not directly funded by clients)


    Interesting. Not one I had been asking. I might use this.

    > How frequently are there pay reviews? Is this frequency part of the
    > employment contract?


    I'd ask this when I get the job offer.

    > Company Culture / Working Atmosphere
    > What are the job titles (junior, plain, senior, project leader..?)


    I'd be more interested in if they had job titles. Most the companies I
    have worked for have a job title but the real job is nothing like the job
    title. Most hiring managers realize this.

    > Invest in training? How frequently?
    > Book library?
    > Attitude to quality?
    > Attitude to process improvements? (SEI CMM Level?)
    > Time sheets?
    > Flexitime?
    > Dress code?


    These are okay and I usually ask them at some point but usually after I
    get a feel for whether or not I'm seriously interested in the company.

    > Obligatory travel?
    > Where to?
    > Recuperation for significant TZ crossing?
    > Compensatory arrangements?


    I've never had this be a problem.

    > Internal email used a lot?
    > Yes? -> BAD.. suppresses person-to-person communication, team spirit


    Why ask such a pointed question? I'd be more inclined to ask, "How do you
    keep morale up?" or "How do you maintain good communication between ..."

    > Health/Safety/Comfort
    > RSI-aware, RSI-safe?
    > Ergonomic keyboard, gfx tablet
    > Rest breaks
    > Air conditioning
    > Tea/coffee machine?


    Government regulated in my country.

    > Room set-up?
    > How many people to a room?
    > Rooms have windows? (Peopleware)
    > Meetings?
    > How often?
    > What kind?
    > Canteen?
    > What regular activities are there after hours?
    >
    > Physical Tools
    > Fast machine? (3.0Ghz+)
    > Screen
    > One or two ?
    > TFT or CRT?
    > Size? At least 19 inch
    > Project Tools
    > Requirements tracking? How?
    > What Design tools? (UML MagicDraw?)
    > CVS or similar?
    > IDE? IntelliJ, Eclipse,..
    > Code qualtiy analysis? Used? How frequently?
    > Profilers?
    > Bug tracking?


    A lot of detail questions. I'd be worried I was going to annoy the
    employer at this point. My attitude is, if you don't give me something to
    be productive I'll approach you once I have the job and explain why I need
    the things I need. I'd tend to spend the interview talking with my
    potential manager to see if they are approachable and reasonable.

    If there is room for process improvement then I see that as an opportunity
    to shine. I'll present data showing how not only myself but others can be
    more productive.

    > Software Engineering
    > Explicit concentrating on early stages?
    > Do you use whiteboards or other large-surface drawing areas for
    > analysis/design? How frequently?
    > Extreme Programming? Any elements of?
    > Use cases?
    > Write tests first?
    > Can you describe your coding guidelines?
    > What degree of enforcement do you use?
    > Do you use Sun's Java naming convention?
    > If not, what's the naming convention?
    > Refactoring?
    > What's your attitude to code duplication?
    > What's your attitude to code reuse?
    > How do you achieve reusability? At what source code scale do you
    > achieve it? (packages, classes, methods?)
    > What's your attitude to Java package hierarchy issues?
    > What's your attitude to javadocs? Do you enforce the need for javadocs
    > for all public classes? How about all methods?
    > Automated GUI testing?
    > Code reviews?
    > How frequently?
    > How many people?


    Again, room for process improvement is room for me to shine.

    --
    Send e-mail to: darrell dot grainger at utoronto dot ca
    ., Aug 17, 2005
    #11
  12. jan V

    . Guest

    On Wed, 17 Aug 2005, Raymond DeCampo wrote:

    > jan V wrote:
    > > I recently had an unpleasant experience accepting an in-house job for a pure
    > > Java company, only to quickly discover that I had landed myself in a
    > > nightmare sweat shop. I actually blame myself for not having asked enough
    > > probing questions at the interview stage.
    > >
    > > I'd like to avoid making the same mistake in the future, so now I've drawn
    > > up a list of questions I'll be asking the interviewer(s) in the future, and
    > > wonder if any of you can suggest more of the same...? (For the [OT] police,
    > > see end of list for Java-specific content! ;-)

    >
    > Jan,
    >
    > I regularly do interviews for my company. We always ask the interviewee
    > if he or she has any questions towards the end of the interview. Not
    > having any questions is usually viewed negatively. Any of the questions
    > you listed would not be unusual or cause any difficulty. We are also
    > looking to make sure that the candidate is a fit for our corporate culture.


    Agreed.

    > Do you have quite a number of questions there however. It may be best
    > to try to get some of them answered over the phone with human resources
    > either before or after the interview. Also, you could ask more open
    > ended questions to try to get more of your questions answered in one go.
    > (You might also learn some things you didn't expect.)


    Agreed. Open-ended questions are the best way to go. I have kept things
    open-ended and had potential employers tell me things I would have never
    thought to ask.

    If the question is too open-ended a good employer will seek clarification.

    --
    Send e-mail to: darrell dot grainger at utoronto dot ca
    ., Aug 17, 2005
    #12
  13. jan V

    jan V Guest

    Thanks for the feedback Ray, while we seem to be face-to-face here, can I
    ask you exactly what you mean by your sig:

    > --
    > XML is the programmer's duct tape.


    Do you mean XML is often used inappropriately, or do you think XML's
    infinite usages is a good thing (My opinion leans more to the former)?

    PS. Let's whisper here, otherwise Andrew may jump on us for conducting
    email-like conversation over "Usenet".. :)
    jan V, Aug 17, 2005
    #13
  14. jan V

    jan V Guest

    Hi Darell, thanks for your interesting feedback.. I've added some select
    extra thoughts below..

    > Ask them how they handle overtime. The company I currently work for told
    > me they view overtime as a failure of project management. No one has
    > worked overtime in the past 3 years. I've worked here for a year and never
    > done overtime. We either change scope, change the timeline or hire more
    > people.


    You lucky son of a gun. You seem to have found one of those needles in a
    haystack..

    > Ask them about the reporting structure. If you are not being interviewed
    > by the person you report to then you want to have a chance to talk to this
    > person. If he is too busy to talk to you then assume he'll be too busy
    > when you become an employee.


    Interesting point. It just highlights that I should be more aggressive at
    interviews, not less. For the nightmare employer I recently resigned from, I
    was interviewed by the guy who would become my immediate superior. He was a
    total jerk *during* the interview (and was just unbelievable as a
    "manager")... next time I'll know I should just forget about the company at
    that point.

    > I never ask questions about compensation during the interview. When they
    > offer me the job I expect a package detailing all the compensation. At
    > that time I will ask HR about anything not clear in the offer letter.


    In Belgium companies like to keep pay information really close to their
    chest, which is truly childish. Often it is to hide quite pathetic
    salaries.. .so now this is the first thing I ask long before I sacrifice a
    day to go for the interview.

    > > What's the company's financial health?

    >
    > If they are publically traded you can find this out by doing a little
    > research. Even if they are not publically traded you can still do some
    > research.


    I am not that financially savvy. I know in the US half the population are
    amateur financial analysts and stock market gamblers, but over here on the
    old continent we're not that desperate (yet).

    > > Obligatory travel?
    > > Where to?
    > > Recuperation for significant TZ crossing?
    > > Compensatory arrangements?

    >
    > I've never had this be a problem.


    When a company tells you to go cross 5-7 time zones, and expects this to be
    done during weekends (i.e. YOUR time), and they want to compensate you by
    paying you a little token sum, then I want to know about such cockamaney
    scheme so that I can privately think "Go find another sucker, sucker"

    > > Internal email used a lot?
    > > Yes? -> BAD.. suppresses person-to-person communication, team

    spirit

    In the last company, people used to send each other emails while sitting in
    the same room, and I know of at least a number of emails going unanswered or
    never discussed face-to-face. That's a sign of major dysfunctional
    communication within a "team".

    > > Health/Safety/Comfort
    > > RSI-aware, RSI-safe?
    > > Ergonomic keyboard, gfx tablet
    > > Rest breaks
    > > Air conditioning
    > > Tea/coffee machine?

    >
    > Government regulated in my country.


    Sure thing, so it is here, but the big question is "Does the company
    proactively observe the law in these respects?" Loads and loads of companies
    don't give a toss. In the last company, we were expected to type non=stop
    all day execpt for the lunch break. That's an RSI killer.

    > If there is room for process improvement then I see that as an opportunity
    > to shine. I'll present data showing how not only myself but others can be
    > more productive.


    Your "room for improvement" may also be a symptom of a company stuck in its
    ways and totally, utterly unwilling to improve or change in any way. How
    will you shine then? You'll be hitting a brick wall at every turn, that's
    what I experienced (and believe me, I was being *real* diplomatic in my
    suggestions).

    > Again, room for process improvement is room for me to shine.


    Again, if you don't check their attitude in detail, you may find out that
    that "room" becomes a set of brick walls forming a career prison.
    jan V, Aug 17, 2005
    #14
  15. jan V wrote:
    > Thanks for the feedback Ray, while we seem to be face-to-face here, can I
    > ask you exactly what you mean by your sig:
    >
    >
    >>--
    >>XML is the programmer's duct tape.

    >
    >
    > Do you mean XML is often used inappropriately, or do you think XML's
    > infinite usages is a good thing (My opinion leans more to the former)?


    I was wondering if you realized the negative aspects of comparing
    something to duct tape in your prior responses. It's difficult to know
    how other cultures understand such things. :)

    I think that the comparison runs the gamut from good to bad. Duct tape
    is very useful for linking together pieces that were not designed to
    work together and I think XML works there as well. On the other hand,
    duct tape is not a permanent solution to many problems but a temporary
    patch that should be replaced. XML fits there as well.

    >
    > PS. Let's whisper here, otherwise Andrew may jump on us for conducting
    > email-like conversation over "Usenet".. :)
    >
    >


    I think we are safe if we invite others to comment.

    Ray

    --
    XML is the programmer's duct tape.
    Raymond DeCampo, Aug 18, 2005
    #15
  16. jan V

    jan V Guest

    > I think that the comparison runs the gamut from good to bad. Duct tape
    > is very useful for linking together pieces that were not designed to
    > work together and I think XML works there as well. On the other hand,
    > duct tape is not a permanent solution to many problems but a temporary
    > patch that should be replaced. XML fits there as well.


    I think XML may in many cases be a good solution when two different systems
    need to communicate data, but XML is so often used in situations where the
    data is going to go absolutely nowhere. Data which is known never to leave a
    company, and never to talk to another program, for example. Program config
    files spring to mind. Whatever was wrong with far easier-to-read plain text
    files, such as the old properties files? Very often, XML's strength in
    coping with structured/hierarchical data is not even used, and we end up
    with linear XML "vommit". XML for XML's sake. Web apps for web apps sake.
    Art for art's sake. I thought we were a rational bunch, in the IT industry,
    but I've come to the conclusion we are, as an industry, about as rational as
    Joe Doe in the street.
    jan V, Aug 18, 2005
    #16
  17. jan V

    . Guest

    On Wed, 17 Aug 2005, jan V wrote:

    > Hi Darell, thanks for your interesting feedback.. I've added some select
    > extra thoughts below..
    >
    > > Ask them how they handle overtime. The company I currently work for told
    > > me they view overtime as a failure of project management. No one has
    > > worked overtime in the past 3 years. I've worked here for a year and never
    > > done overtime. We either change scope, change the timeline or hire more
    > > people.

    >
    > You lucky son of a gun. You seem to have found one of those needles in a
    > haystack..


    I took over two years, three resume revisions, over 1000 applications and
    a few dozen interviews before I found my current job. Considering how
    long it took me to find the current job, if there is even a hint of the
    culture changing I'm going to start looking again.

    > > Ask them about the reporting structure. If you are not being interviewed
    > > by the person you report to then you want to have a chance to talk to this
    > > person. If he is too busy to talk to you then assume he'll be too busy
    > > when you become an employee.

    >
    > Interesting point. It just highlights that I should be more aggressive at
    > interviews, not less. For the nightmare employer I recently resigned from, I
    > was interviewed by the guy who would become my immediate superior. He was a
    > total jerk *during* the interview (and was just unbelievable as a
    > "manager")... next time I'll know I should just forget about the company at
    > that point.


    Exactly. The scariest thing in my two years of job hunting were the number
    of managers who just thought working 60 hour weeks with the occasionally
    80 hour week, without compensation, was normal. They usually took offense
    when I asserted my right to fair compensation. They also never called me
    back; when I interview someone I call them back to let them know they
    didn't get the job.

    > > I never ask questions about compensation during the interview. When they
    > > offer me the job I expect a package detailing all the compensation. At
    > > that time I will ask HR about anything not clear in the offer letter.

    >
    > In Belgium companies like to keep pay information really close to their
    > chest, which is truly childish. Often it is to hide quite pathetic
    > salaries.. .so now this is the first thing I ask long before I sacrifice a
    > day to go for the interview.


    I always looked at interviewing as a way to improve my skills. Every
    interview I went to helped me with subsequent interviews. I'd take a half
    day (or sometimes full day) off work to go to an interview. I'd run a few
    errands but the main focus of the day would be the interview. I kept the
    attitude that a new job was important to me but it was not urgent. I
    always took my time.

    Additionally, if I had any doubts about a job I'd try to get them
    clarified. If I still had a bad feeling I'd turn the job down. A number of
    the jobs I had a bad feeling about would post the same position every 4 to
    6 months. I'm guessing they hired someone, took the ad down, that person
    quit, they'd repost the job, and the cycle continues.

    > > > What's the company's financial health?

    > >
    > > If they are publically traded you can find this out by doing a little
    > > research. Even if they are not publically traded you can still do some
    > > research.

    >
    > I am not that financially savvy. I know in the US half the population are
    > amateur financial analysts and stock market gamblers, but over here on the
    > old continent we're not that desperate (yet).


    I understand. Until I worked for a reasonably good Fortune 500 company I
    didn't know anything about this sort of stuff. Got a job for a Fortune 500
    company (U.S. based) and everyone would be talking about stocks, options,
    E/P, dividends, etc. plus the VP would come to our site and tell us about
    the quarterly report.

    > > > Obligatory travel?
    > > > Where to?
    > > > Recuperation for significant TZ crossing?
    > > > Compensatory arrangements?

    > >
    > > I've never had this be a problem.

    >
    > When a company tells you to go cross 5-7 time zones, and expects this to be
    > done during weekends (i.e. YOUR time), and they want to compensate you by
    > paying you a little token sum, then I want to know about such cockamaney
    > scheme so that I can privately think "Go find another sucker, sucker"


    I guess I've been lucky in this regard. Even the worst companies would be
    reasonable about this. For example, on a three day business trip (monday
    to wednesday) we'd get the fourth day off if we had to fly out on a sunday
    night.

    > > > Internal email used a lot?
    > > > Yes? -> BAD.. suppresses person-to-person communication, team

    > spirit
    >
    > In the last company, people used to send each other emails while sitting in
    > the same room, and I know of at least a number of emails going unanswered or
    > never discussed face-to-face. That's a sign of major dysfunctional
    > communication within a "team".


    Wow. That is sad. The last sweatshops I worked out, the workers became
    closer. A common dislike of management.

    > > > Health/Safety/Comfort
    > > > RSI-aware, RSI-safe?
    > > > Ergonomic keyboard, gfx tablet
    > > > Rest breaks
    > > > Air conditioning
    > > > Tea/coffee machine?

    > >
    > > Government regulated in my country.

    >
    > Sure thing, so it is here, but the big question is "Does the company
    > proactively observe the law in these respects?" Loads and loads of companies
    > don't give a toss. In the last company, we were expected to type non=stop
    > all day execpt for the lunch break. That's an RSI killer.


    My wife works for a government run insurance company that deals withis
    this sort of thing. Companies are regarded to pay into the insurance
    company. She has ABSOLUTELY no alliance to the company. So far this year
    she has sided with the employer once. All other times she sides with the
    employee. We also have three levels of government that workers can
    complain to as well as an Ombudsman. Some companies try to get away with
    it but when they are caught they are heavily punished.

    > > If there is room for process improvement then I see that as an opportunity
    > > to shine. I'll present data showing how not only myself but others can be
    > > more productive.

    >
    > Your "room for improvement" may also be a symptom of a company stuck in its
    > ways and totally, utterly unwilling to improve or change in any way. How
    > will you shine then? You'll be hitting a brick wall at every turn, that's
    > what I experienced (and believe me, I was being *real* diplomatic in my
    > suggestions).


    True. However, in those cases there were usually other signs the culture
    was toxic. I'd decide not to work for them before I found out the culture
    was stagnent.

    Case in point, talking to my manager during the interview it was clear
    that there was no right answer for most questions. He believes there is
    the best answer currently available but there is always potential for a
    better answer, he just hasn't found it yet.

    You can also see this if you bring up something that many managers would
    have a strong opinion about. A good manager will listen to your opinion
    and explain why he disagrees. A bad manager will decide not to hire you.

    For example, what software development process do they use. If he responds
    "Spiral" then argue for "Agile" or "Waterfall". So how he responds.

    Bottom line, I'd want to work for a manager that is willing to listen and
    open to change. You don't have to know what methodologies they use now.
    You just need to know they are willing to change if you know better.

    --
    Send e-mail to: darrell dot grainger at utoronto dot ca
    ., Aug 18, 2005
    #17
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