• David Grant (unregistered)

    Smells like insourcing.

    I interviewed someone for a C#-centric position once. Similar stuff:

    "How would you accomplish (blah) in C-Sharp?"
    "Well, in 'C-Hash' i would..."
    "OK, in C-SHARP how do you go about doing XYZ?"
    "Blaahhhh blahhh C-HASH"

  • .d (unregistered)

    I always thought that naming a language "C#" ranked pretty high, WTF-wise...

  • skicow (unregistered)

    Not to be nit picky but # == Sharp/Hash/Pound depending on what country you are from. I know MS defines C# == C-Sharp but some people think that they are l337 and therefore refer to it as C-Hash or C-Pound....I'd have to say proving that you are l337 in a job interview isn't the best idea.

    BTW I love how he concatenated the Delete statement in the middle of the word NULL!

  • drew (unregistered)

    On a similar note: Two+ years ago, I was intrigued by companies looking for candidates who had a minimum of 5 years of Microsoft .Net experience. While I wasn't looking for work, I occasionally thought of sending in a resume just to sit through the interview.

  • Anon (unregistered)

    He didn't, that'd IDE generated code from dropping a data adapter directly onto a winform. That's the output of the command generator that writes the sql for you.

  • Captain Irony (unregistered)

    I've always found it ironic that in music, C# is one of the most complicated keys to play in ...

  • Chris Tavares (unregistered)

    Ahh, such confusion. Everyone knows the name of the language is actually "C-octothorpe".

  • Jeff S (unregistered)

    I honestly would not worry about someone calling it C "pound" or whatever. I don't care how they pronounce it, I care how they can program. Of course, this particular candidate was 0-for-2 on both counts so I guess it didn't really matter. :)

  • Jon (unregistered)

    That went better than the phone interview I heard about for a programming position where right in the middle of it, the toilet flushed. Needless to say, the rest of the interview was most likely awkward.

  • Shaun (unregistered)

    You guys wasted how much of your companies time to prove a candidate you KNEW wasn't qualified for you by the answers the questionairre? Pretty unprofessional.

  • Some Anon (unregistered)

    I'd say the WTF is why they even interviewed this guy after reading his resume!

  • Guayo (unregistered)

    I have to say that English is not my first language so maybe that explains that J responses are brainteasers to me (and I like brainteasers).
    Let's play devil advocate here: Maybe the InitializeComponent function was written by him by hand...

    how about this?
    (fldAddress = ? OR ? IS NULL AND fldAddress IS NULL)
    maybe he is aware that the db optimizer would ignore the indexes in the fldAddress column if he uses something like NVL(fldAddress, NEVERUSEDVALUE) = NVL(?, NEVERUSEDVALUE).
    Anyway I kind of feel sympathy for J. he seems to think of technology with a simpler perspective. Anything is just a tool... If those tools have purposes different or more complex than of what he have used them, maybe he just don't care, and I don't see that as a bad thing per se.
    Perhaps J doesn't really knows C# but he needs the job, he have done some basic VB.Net before (in Asp.Net code behind files) so he wonders... how hard it could be this C-Pound thing anyway? But the interview it's tomorrow, what can J do?... hmm it seems that he had the time to read just one C-Pound MSDN article... so he choose: "C-Pound error handling".

  • Alex Papadimoulis (unregistered)

    Shaun, I'd like to jump in here ... I've naturally been on the other side of the recruiting, and had a similar experience.

    My headhunter took my beautiful resume (seriously, it was designed by a professional graphic designer) and pasted it in his template, loosing all formatting and turning it from 3 to 8 pages. It made me look like a complete joke. The resume was completely unreadable.

    If the employer would have just gone by that alone, they would have missed out on a very qualified candidate and I would have missed out on a good opportunity. All because of the incompetence of the headhunter.

  • Mike R. (unregistered)

    Re: C-Pound defense.

    No no no no no no no!!

    Anyone who's in software development who hasn't had their head under a large stone for the last few years knows it's C-Sharp.

    Gah, every time I read C-Pound I got a little twinge.

  • Rob L. (unregistered)

    In the world of music, the note C-Sharp is the same as D-Flat. I therefore (from time to time) call it Db (Ive gotten yelled at by people for saying it... I guess they don't find it too amusing ;D)

  • Greg H. (unregistered)

    Hmmm... Db... I could get used to that. :P

  • Scott C Reynolds (unregistered)

    @Shaun: First of all, you've made a blanket statement knowing nothing about the kind of market I'm dealing with. We got all of about 10 resumes in, only 3 of which even MENTIONED .net. So people with some semblance of experience we gave the benefit of the doubt and called them in for an interview.

    The c-pound thing is funny. It's funny because it shows that he did not, in fact, have any meaningful exposure to it, because even having never heard it pronounced, you know it's c-sharp by all the websites for it (where # is not a valid URL symbol).

    I didn't know that the designer would format the code that way...having never done...drag and drop SQL? Either way, if that is the case, then it's even better because he sent me a code sample consisting of ENTIRELY designer-written code. Well done.

  • Taral (unregistered)

    Looks like you forgot to quote "<my name boss?>"...

  • skicow (unregistered)

    Ok, I didn't know that the IDE would break up the Delete string that way, I've never done the drag-and-drop thing for SQL.

  • Avner Kashtan (unregistered)

    On the C# pronunciation thing, it would also do to remember that the filenames for it are .cs - not .cp or .ch.

  • D (unregistered)

    I was interviewing a VB6 developer years ago and asked him to tell me some of the things he has done in VB. His respose: "I've done a lot of dimming" Yeesh. The interview did not go well.

  • domovoi (unregistered)

    I have a friend who works at Microsoft (wonder if he reads this site, if he does, sorry Pete for stealing your story) and he asked an interviewee "what's the running time of a binary search?". The candidate answered "2 nanoseconds".

    Dinner's discussion was whether or not a binary search was actually possible in 2 nanoseconds. :P

  • WanFactory (unregistered)

    D-Flat is not always the same as C#. On even tempered instruments like the piano it usually is but not usually for purely tempered instruments like horns and strings and guitars. D-Flat is smooth, relaxing, and mellow while C# is ornate, fancy, and full of needless technical complications beyond the C-equivalent. Many of the difficulties go away, if you switch to C# minor.

    Calling the programming language C-Sharp really does fit the bill.

  • Eric Wise (unregistered)

    If candidates are this hard to find, I should have asked for more money when I took my current job. =(

  • Anderson (unregistered)

    -> D-Flat is not always the same as C#. On even tempered instruments like the piano...

    Ummm D-flat is the same NOTE as C# on a piano. It's the same for Wind instuments ( i'm an old trumpet player ) the fingering for a Db is the same at C#. Check it out- http://www.trumpetstudio.com/scales/Allfinger.pdf

    I know you were attempting a joke- Db is more mellow and less filling.

  • Musical Neophyte (unregistered)

    Anderson: If I read WanFactory correctly, he's talking about keys rather than just notes.

  • Mark Pitman (unregistered)

    At a previous job a number of years ago, we would give candidates a simple SQL quiz to see if they had ANY experience doing database work or if they were simply web designers who could spell A-S-P. The quiz had two tables, State and City. There was a one to many foreign key relationship between them. One of the questions was, "How would you get a list of all the cities in Arizona?" One candidate began writing a list of names of different cities in Arizona instead of writing the query :)

  • StuP (unregistered)


    Even on wind and brass instruments (e.g. your own Trumpet) C# and Db are not the same note... they may have the same fingering (they do on string instruments like the violin and cello too) but they may be very slightly different depending on what you are playing. If you are playing with a piano, then you tune your instrument to the even-temperament piano and then C#=Db, but if you are playing in a string quartet, then you would normally tune to pythagorean tuning and C# != Db.

    It's the difference between "even temperament" (where each semitone is an even fraction of an octave) and pythagorean tuning (based on the harmonic series, so the notes are in integer ratios such as 3:2, 5:4 etc). In even tempered tuning, a perfect fifth is seven semitones, giving a ratio of the frequencies of 1:2^(7/12) (~1.4983), whereas this is 2:3 (=1.5) in pythagorean tuning.

    The result of this difference is that, when discussing things in Pythagorean tuning, there is a minute difference between C# and Db, and that difference varies depending on what key you are playing in.

    As an exercise, start with the tuning note for an orchestra (Concert A, 440Hz), then use the pythagorean rules of an octave down is to halve the frequency and the dominant (5th) is 3/2 the frequency of the tonic and then try to go around the entire scale until you get back to A again (or more precisely it will be, G##):

    note freq (Hz, quoted to 1dp)
    A 440
    E 660
    B 495
    F# 743
    C# 557
    G## 446

    (remember G## (i.e. G double-sharp) is identical to A in even temperament.... but here is a noticable error in pythagorean tuning). If one goes down the cycle of perfect fifths from A (not up as shown above) then one gets into the flat keys. From these calculations you see that in pythagorean tuning, Db=549Hz, but C#=557Hz.

    There is plenty of good googling to be had out there on this... pythagorean (or "just") tuning, perfect fifth and even (or "equal") temperament are good terms to try... here are some starters:



    Happy playing!

  • SC (unregistered)

    Anyone who's ever studied the basics of musical notation will understand that it's C sharp and not C <anything else>. :-)

  • Andy (unregistered)

    This doesn't surprise me in the least. My company is having a hell of a time finding qualified VS.NET developers; we've got a half-dozen open positions in our SF Bay Area office alone.... I've done a number of technical interviews and the candidates can be pretty bad--not this bad, but bad. Hint, if the question is "Describe what the DataSet object is and how it is used." An answer of "Oh, I usually just use the Microsoft Data Access application block." is not the correct answer....

  • Avner Kashtan (unregistered)

    SC Wrote:
    Anyone who's ever studied the basics of musical notation will understand that it's C sharp and not C <anything else>. :-)

    Well, that's the cultural thing again, isn't it? In English it's called C-Sharp, but that isn't the only notation used. I don't know which language Hebrew took its notation from, but here you use the Do-Re-Mi notation (with Do being C), and # is pronounced Diez - so CSharp is DoDiez.

  • Avner Kashtan (unregistered)

    Andy: While it's definitely not an answer to your question, having an applicant be familiar with the Application Blocks is already a good start.

  • josh (unregistered)

    Technically the wrong lines on # are slanted to be sharp, but it's the closest thing ASCII has to offer.

  • Zka (unregistered)

    this is C-atastrophy :)

  • fluffy (unregistered)

    We could spell it C? then. (Assuming this weblog doesn't totally choke on the Unicode 'MUSIC SHARP SIGN' character.)

  • fluffy (unregistered)

    Damn, it did. Oh well.

  • Fleep (unregistered)

    "this is C-atastrophy"

    You're worse than Piers Anthony =D

    In the very first interview I ever held for a programmer, we were looking for a guy who could dev web apps in ColdFusion (don't axe). The candidate who came in was an overweight Indian fellow with a plastic toupee and a stuffy suit. I was 18, I guess, and my partner and I were dressed in shorts and tees. We went over his qualifications with him, and his response to most of our questions was:

    "You ask me to program it, and I'll program it."

    We asked him "Have you ever done any programming for the web?"

    His response, "I used to write timed scripts in Cobol for Solaris servers to sync their information."

    It didn't occur to the guy that Web != Internet. About 20 minutes later we found out the guy couldn't name a single WEBSITE, much less know how to work with CGI. God knows he'd be a fantastic GUI designer, too.

  • Chris Adams (unregistered)

    This is bringing back painful memories of interviewing during the late 90s. One of my favorite questions was with a senior web developer applicant and a simple question which allowed someone to demonstrate their range of knowledge - something along the lines of "Explain what happens at each level when the user clicks a submit button in an online store" - and was quite surprised to learn that HTTPS traffic doesn't go over the Internet but rather a private leased-line to the bank.

    His other answers were consistent with someone trying to remember what his previous employer's actual senior developers had done (something he'd obvious failed to understand at the time) and one of the most painful moments I've witnessed was when he attempted to write an example SQL statement - I would have felt sorry for him except that he'd been lying through his teeth to us about his experience.

  • Whackaxe (unregistered)

    at least he didn't call it C-Noughts-and-crosses-board...

  • Lothar (unregistered)

    I don't get it. AFAIR Microsoft said that this is exactly the experience you need for developing with .NET. Was Microsoft lying? I'm not able to imagine that. That would be the first time that Microsoft is telling something only for the sake of marketing.

    SCNR, Lothar

  • Richard Peat (unregistered)

    My most recent experience has been from the other side, trying to get my CV through the filter of the recruitment agencies who don't understand IT. When I was made redundant in early 2002, most of the recent work I had done was in VB6 with Oracle, but I hadn't joined the company as a VB programmer (indeed I hadn't ever used VB when I arrived). Due to the range of work that my previous company picked up, I had learnt VB for a particular project, and had learnt Java for another. I hadn't done any SQLServer for about 3 years, but that was purely because I didn't work on any of the SQLServer based projects. Basically I, like all of the A/P's in the company was expected to be flexible, and able to use the tools that were needed for the particular job. Being a small software company we were also called on to do the whole software life-cycle from requirements gathering and business analysis, through to testing and delivery.

    Most of the agencies decided that I was a VB/Oracle developer as that is what I had been doing most recently, so wouldn't put me forward for any of the many VB/SQLServer jobs on the basis that I only had no recent SQLServer, only Oracle, they also wouldn't usually put me forward for any Java jobs on the basis that in their systems I was listed as a VB/Oracle developer.

    They basically couldn't cope with my having a wide experience. The crazy thing is that although I got through to interview at my current company on the basis of being a VB/Oracle programmer, once they saw my experience, I'm again being used flexibly. Currently I'm doing a pretty complex legacy Excel/VBA project, but that is hooking up to an Oracle database, and linking into a new C# system using code-behind. With my skillset I can do all three parts of the project. Agencies still can't decide whether I'm an Oracle, VB, Office, C# or whatever, when they try to pigeonhole me into one of their slots.

    And when we're recruiting, we again have the problems everybody else has described weeding the good developers!

  • Vitani (unregistered)

    Wish we had a shortage of .NET developers in the UK. I could really use a better paid job than my current one!

  • RIchard Peat (unregistered)

    "Wish we had a shortage of .NET developers in the UK."

    I'm in the UK. I know a lot of IT people who have had, or are having real trouble finding a good role, and yet on the recruitment side we have repeatedly had real problems getting good people to fill roles, getting people like Mr C-Pound described above.

    Gartner has said that there is a major IT skills shortage (see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/01/skills_shortage/) and yet I know people who are leaving IT because they can't get a job. Just crazy!

  • flock (unregistered)

    This is actually a reply to domovoi (if I spelled it right), but first his quote:

    "I have a friend who works at Microsoft (wonder if he reads this site, if he does, sorry Pete for stealing your story) and he asked an interviewee "what's the running time of a binary search?". The candidate answered "2 nanoseconds".

    Dinner's discussion was whether or not a binary search was actually possible in 2 nanoseconds. :P"

    That question is exactly the kind of question you shalt ask in an interview. What you will learn with that is that someone knows a lot of concepts, not that someone knows how to use them, which are very different things and I am sure you don't want an employee who is all good at theorizing and all bad at practicing, do you?

    Instead, what about asking the candidates about the advantages of using a binary tree instead of any other memory structure or to explain how binary trees work? That would do much better, I think.

  • Gregorio (unregistered)

    I recently had the displeasure of interviewing a candidate for a programmer/analyst position. When asked what his thoughts were on stored procedures he told us that they aren't really necessary. We waited for him to elaborate... He then went on to tell us of a system his team built where they ripped out all existing procedures replaced them with inline SQL, “with no performance penalty whatsoever”


  • smartypants (unregistered)

    I thought it was funny how Richard said he "learnt" VB. It's "learned" VB. How can we criticize others with their pronunciation of C# when our basic English skills are severely lacking?

  • Mike (unregistered)

    I agree with smartypants. It's "learned". Sir Richard should know better. After all, he supposedly lives in the UK? You would think he spoke the Queen's English.

  • fluffy (unregistered)


    Perfectly-acceptable spelling. Or do you also insist that it's "leaved" and not "left?"

  • Mike (unregistered)

    I stand corrected. How embarassing on my part. I should never have sided with this "smartypants". Sorry Richard!

  • smartypants (unregistered)

    I still say it's "learned". :-p

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