Category Archives: Recruitment

Seniority in Programming: Part Two

Episode 44

Last week, in part one of this article, I was pondering about levels of competence in general and in software development. I looked at mainstream naming schemas, recalled metaphor to medieval craftsmanship, described ranks in Japanese martial arts, presented SFIA skill framework and finally ability’s dots in role-playing game system. Now, let’s try to do something with it. How much levels do we actually want? Well, let’s have four.


  • HR would call it junior developer
  • Sensei would call it 5th to 4rd kyu
  • SFIA would call it level 2 to 3, the one who assists and applies
  • VtM handbook would call it 2 dots, the practitioner

We all have to start somewhere. I’m assuming that this is how we should call a person that begins professional career in software development, and has knowledge usually associated with at least bachelor degree in computer science or closely related field. Apprentice has some theoretical grasp and academic experience, but not much, if any, with commercial projects. Why skip 1st level of SFIA and 1st dot in VtM handbook? Because to be employed as junior developer, you have to know quite a lot. It’s not like random person from the street can get the job and do well after some on-site training. It’s not a damn factory. One need to understand some basics of computer science, and be able to code something. I’m not saying academic degree is a must, because many prominent programmers don’t have one, but some knowledge in the field is a Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 17, 2016 in Misc, Recruitment


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Seniority in Programming: Part One

Episode 43

While browsing job offers in software development, you can often encounter words like “junior”, “middle”, “regular”, “senior”, “lead” or “principal”. What do they actually mean? Correct answer, as usual, is: it depends. The idea of job grades, pay grades, tiers or seniority levels seems to be quite subjective, depending on job market situation, country, company, technology and if HR people have a good day or not. Let’s explore the subject and try to find some answers. I will reach for some metaphors and analogies to help with this endeavor.

Assuming that software development is a single monolithic skill, which is a thick approximation, we can ask an essential question – how to grade one’s skill. There are quite a few approaches, let’s dive into some of them.

Pay grade


Typical corporate breakdown you can find out there, is “junior” / “middle” / “senior”. Many companies add another level above, usually called “lead”, “principal” or “staff” and sometimes a level below, like “intern”. One corporation had once a Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Recruitment, Technology


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Why work for a software company?

Episode 37

When I was looking for a new job recently, I had a strong resolution, that I’m going to work for a company that is doing software. Not telecommunication equipment that requires software. Not financial products that require software. Not trucks that require software. I wanted a company, that does the damn software for a living. And I will tell you why.

Case one: Technology Corporation

800px-base_transceiver_stationIt’s not bad, could be worse. Companies that focus on technology usually have some kind of understanding for engineers. Usually. There is the corporate aspect though with all the bureaucratic nonsense. The bigger the company is the more problematic the aspect of scale becomes. Some people are allergic to presence of nonsense, and probability dictates, that with scale, at some point you will encounter the nonsense and might get frustrated.

The urban legend says, there is a quarter million Euro device rusting on the shelf in a lab. It’s needed, but no one knows how to turn it on. The one competent guy who knew left the company because he was unable to get a hundred Euro rise. We can’t rehire him for a year because of policy. Meanwhile new people straight from university are paid more than that  competent guy who left, because Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on September 29, 2016 in Misc, Recruitment


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Software Developer Interview: Your part.

Episode 29

            Now you will ask questions. Lots of them.

            As I have mentioned in the previous article, job interview is a symmetrical process. There are two entities – the Company and the Developer that meet in order to find out if they want to start a collaboration. The company will try to check if you have suitable skills, talents and how you handle different situations. They will ask you tons of questions. And you should do the same – carefully and thoroughly find out if the are suitable for you in each aspect you care about. Basically, you should have the same amount of time for your questions, as they had for theirs. Symmetry and honesty.


            When you have technical people in front of you, ask them as much as you can about the project you are going to participate in.

  • High level business overview as seen by developer.
  • Technical overview.
  • Technology stack and plans for it.
  • Legacy problems, and if present, how do they deal with them.
  • Software development process: do they have Agile? Scrum? Scrum-but? Waterfall?
  • Do they have Continuous Integration? Automatic tests? Deployment at the push of the button?
  • How do they host their stuff?
  • How big is the project? How old is the code and how many people worked on it?
  • What tools do they typically use? What IDE? Can you use your favorite IDE and tools?
  • Will you have the level of autonomy you want?

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on August 4, 2016 in Misc, Recruitment



Software developer interview questions: The soft part

Episode 28

            Soft is not a short from software here. In the previous article we went through technical aspects of Java developer job interview. This time we are going to explore the non-technical part or soft part or HR part or however you want to call it (it’s not just Java developer now, of course, but software developer in general). Sometimes you will talk with your potential team leader, project manager, line manager, other kind of manager, someone from human resources department or just a guy from dev team (hey, they can talk too!). They will try to find out if you will fit the organization, project or, in general, if you are the guy they would like to work with. I feel that developers tend to trivialize this part and think that if they are technically strong, nothing can stop them. However soft skills and personality plays a decent role in the recruitment process. After all, no one wants to work with an asshole, even if it’s technically brilliant asshole.

Up to the point

            So, I’m going to try to recollect these types of questions I’ve been asked on my recent interviews. As before, I’m not going to answer them, partly because I’m lazy and partly because Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Misc, Recruitment


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Java developer interview questions: The hard part

Episode 27

            Since I’ve attended several job interviews recently, I’ve decided to share some experience with you. Why hard part? Because this article is going to be about technical stuff. I’m going to write something about soft part later. Technical interview will probably look a bit different depending on your programming background. If you are new, expect more core language / programming questions. Later on emphasis probably shifts more towards your actual work experience, technologies, frameworks and practical problem solving skills. I’m not going to answer questions (I’m lazy), just provide list of topics you might want to review if you are going to a Java interview.

General object oriented programming / design core

  • Explain polymorphism, encapsulation, cohesion, coupling.
  • Difference between inheritance and aggregation.
  • What does “clean code” and “technical debt” mean to you?
  • Describe some refactoring techniques.
  • Explain SOLID principles.
  • Other principles like KISS, DRY, YAGNI, law of Demeter etc.
  • What design patterns do you know, explain some.
  • What design anti-patterns do you know?
  • How would you design an amphibious vessel / math expression evaluator / a dragon?
  • What sorting algorithms do you know and what’s their computational complexity? Which would you choose having some knowledge about the data you are given?
  • Write a code that:
    • calculates a factorial of given number
    • does a Fizz Buzz
    • inverts order of letters in words of given sentence.
    • checks if given string is a palindrome.
    • enumerates all permutations / variations of given set of characters

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 14, 2016 in Misc, Recruitment, Technology


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