Monday, December 05, 2011

Why thinking counts and development doesn't

I'm having one of those interviewing streaks at the moment.  The sort of interviews where after 2 minutes the only question is how to politely wrap the interview up but where secretly you want to scream 'DO YOU SERIOUSLY THINK YOU ARE ANY GOOD?'.  You know the sort, where you ask a simple question like

'Explain the difference between EJB and SCA' and you get an explanation of the different Eclipse UI pieces the person has used on their current project.  You then push for a more structural detail and onwards and downwards the explanation goes.

The point here is that these people are 'developers' but I'm after 'solution architects' or 'software engineers'.  What I want is people who understand the principles and structures behind what they do and not simply the series of UI elements or API calls that fulfil their current task.  I don't ask people about 'design' as I don't really care what they use for design whether its Agile, XP, SCRUM, Waterfall or just doing it in their heads.  What I care about is how they think about solving a problem and then apply that thought to the platform they are working on.  This applies to folks who are package functional pieces, Java developers or Perl guys.  I want to know that you actually understand what is behind the scenes otherwise I'm better off just doing it myself and that is normally a waste of my time.

Software Engineer is a phrase that isn't used much these days, and I feel that is a shame.  Software Engineers know about how things work and what makes them, they care about the structure and the mental model and then its application and not about the basics of what is infront of them.

Talking just about the surface is ruddy pointless.  Its the sort of thing that causes issues, for instance asking a Siebel person 'how do you handle organisational email addresses' and them not knowing about the issues that has because 'I've never had to do that'.  That means you are sheeple, you follow what is there and don't try and think about what is behind and the mental models, this means you will make bad decisions.

Thinking counts, design counts because its that sort of thing that means you see the roadblock and avoid it rather than just ploughing straight into the wall.

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Anonymous said...

Based on your one sentence tag line of your blog, are you seriously good enough to bold that text?

I'm currently going through a dry spell of candidates as well. Maybe upping the $$$ will help.

Steve Jones said...

If their salary and rate demands were at the bottom end of the market I wouldn't mind, this is very much at the higher salary expectation end.

That is what makes it more depressing.

Anonymous said...

SCA? My first though went to

Steve Jones said...

Now if they'd said that I'd have been happier!