Frustrating Interview



  • The company I work for has no web designers - there's never been more than one at once and the last was fired a few months ago. So we have to recreate the company portal from scratch since the current one has too many WTF's to be salvageable, and I tell my boss we'll need someone for the web design. So we had a meeting about that and agreed upon the skills needed for the job. We put up a job offer adsaying we need someone who's knowledgeable about CSS 2, HTML 4 and XHTML 1.1. Knowing JavaScript is good but now necessary right now. Must present some templates (we'd check the validity of their markup on W3's validator).

    I'm responsible for the interviews. I've come up with a test so we could filter them applicants better. Just a few questions like "create three CSS rules, one should be a class, another should be applied to all <b> tags and the last should apply only to tags with a given id" and "given a <span> element with "my_span" for its ID, write some JavaScript code to make this element's text yellow when the mouse cursor is over it". Eight questions, total.

    I've interviewed three people so far. Two guys did fine on this test, and they showed me some real good templates made by them. There was an applicant, though, who is worth mentioning here, and the reason I'm writing this.

    From some 12 resumés I've got so far, this guy was by far the longest. According to it, he's been working with web design since 2004, and has made some lots of sites. I saw some sites referenced in his resumé, most had too many errors and some of them were downright strange. One consisted of a proxy to orkut inside an iframe, a "joke of the day" (loaded from some RSS) right next to it and a then an empty div occupying a third of the div where everything else was in. It also referenced the same url for its CSS stylesheet 18 times in the source code in random locations. I wanted to give this guy the benefit of doubt, it'd been long since he'd worked on those sites and that could have been done by someone else when he left the jobs related to those sites. So I told my boss we could interview this guy.

    The day he came, I printed the test questions and handed to him. He seemed somewhat nervous about it so I told him that if it'd make him feel better, he could talk to me about the questions instead of writing his answers. If he answered them ok verbally, it'd be just the same to me. It went kinda like this:

    "Hm, this first question... the 'alt' attribute... I've seen it before, but I don't recall what it does. I can't answer this one".

    "Create three CSS rules... I'm sorry, I have never written anything in CSS before. I'm sure I could learn it really quickly, though. I see there is another CSS question besides this one, I'll have to skip it as well." At this point I stared at my boss's eyes. She could kinda read my mind. The applicant lied about knowing CSS in his resumé, and now was telling us with a brazen face that he could learn it quickly.

    "Write up some code in javascript... Well, you don't really write Javascript, all these tools do it for you. So I don't know how to answer this one as well, but I could do it with a tool."

    "What are the advantages of tableless design... Tableless... It has to do with tables, doesn't it?"

    And finally, for the last question. "What is the difference between margin, border and padding? Well, margin is the margin of something. Border is that black box around it, and padding is some spacing." And yeah, these were his exact words. At least he answered this one, after skipping the previous seven questions.

    After such an amount of failure, he tries to show me some of his personal works. Says I'll like his portfolio when I see his valid markup. But when I try to open it, surprise, the domain where he stored his hypertext art is available for sale.

    I didn't even bother starting the real interview and said we were done. Then he asks if he can make some questions before leaving. "I don't see why a designer should know these things. I mean, this test is way harder than it should be. Why don't you guys just get your templates from some site like freecsstemplates.org?" Yeah, right, that's what we need a web designer for - so he can download some readily available templates instead of doing his friggin' job.



  • I totally want to see a "Frustrating Interview" thread from this guy.  It'll be all about how he aced the quiz but his pages didn't validate and they wanted him to know a bunch of things that designers shouldn't have to know.



  • [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]the last should apply only to tags with a given id" and "given a <span> element with "my_span" for its ID, write some JavaScript code to make this element's text yellow when the mouse cursor is over it". [/quote]

    Javascript when :hover would do it and not require the user to have JS enabled? I wonder where the WTFs in the original portal came from 😉



  • [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]

    ...Knowing JavaScript is good but now necessary right now.

    ...I've come up with a test so we could filter them applicants better.

    ..."write some JavaScript code to make this element's text yellow when the mouse cursor is over it". Eight questions, total.[/quote]

    So, at least 12.5% of the test is checking for something that you don't need the applicant to know. WTF?



  • @GettinSadda said:

    So, at least 12.5% of the test is checking for something that you don't need the applicant to know. WTF?

    Nobody said they'd reject anything under 100%. If something is an added bonus I'd say it's more of a WTF not to have it in the test (Though clearly you'd give it appropriate weighting when evaluating their results).



  • @wonkoTheSane said:

    [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]the last should apply only to tags with a given id" and "given a <span> element with "my_span" for its ID, write some JavaScript code to make this element's text yellow when the mouse cursor is over it".

    Javascript when :hover would do it and not require the user to have JS enabled? I wonder where the WTFs in the original portal came from 😉

    [/quote] 

    FWIW, the javascript is still relevant.  IE 6, which is still used by aroud a third of internet users, doesn't recognize :hover except on links, so if you want a mouseover effect on anything else, you need javascript. 

    Anyway, this actually sounds to me like a simple way to test the applicant's knowledge of unintrusive javascript: does he know how to use document.getElementById() instead of putting the javascript inline?  Even if the particular application of the skill isn't useful, the skill itself is.



  • Letting those designers to write actual markup is ludicrous! Let them design, and make programmers write the code, like they're supposed to.



  •  You know, perhaps the guy was a designer and only a designer. While often webdesigners are also tasked with creating the html/css and sometimes js. It certainly wouldn't be a stretch to find a shop where the designer only makes the design and makes a mock-up in something like dreamweaver and hands that to the web developer who cleans up the html/css and adds the site logic.



  • @stratos said:

    You know, perhaps the guy was a designer and only a designer. While often webdesigners are also tasked with creating the html/css and sometimes js. It certainly wouldn't be a stretch to find a shop where the designer only makes the design and makes a mock-up in something like dreamweaver and hands that to the web developer who cleans up the html/css and adds the site logic.

    A lot of our WTF's started out like that. Though it's mostly the previous developers' fault. The part of the site where I do most of my work is a legacy asp page which includes seven other asp files. Six files are always the same but one varies according to the querystring. The first fixed asp file starts a html table which is used for layout positioning throughout the rest of the files and which is closed only on the sixth. I saw the previous guys working this out in Dreamweaver and I don't think it's anywhere near healthy how it's so forgiving about some scandalous markup errors.

    And we clearly stated we wanted someone to do the CSS and HTML, so the guy I talked about in the original post was still not the best choice for the job.



  • [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]The first fixed asp file starts a html table which is used for layout positioning throughout the rest of the files and which is closed only on the sixth.[/quote]ugh, reminds me of something I did on a site once.  The designer gave me a bunch of html docs, so I abstracted out the stuff that was common for each page and threw them into separate files which were INCLUDEd on each page.  I had a "BoxTops.php" script which did what you describe in the first script, and if I fucked up anything in another script, the page would get all fucked up.  Oh!  and I forgot to mention that we didn't have a test area.  All changes were made directly to production. 

    Cheapass Startups FTW!



  • @wonkoTheSane said:

    Javascript when :hover would do it and not require the user to have JS enabled? I wonder where the WTFs in the original portal came from 😉
    Does IE>6 support :hover for non-anchor elements (in this case, a span)? It's been a couple of years since I've cared about IE...



  • @Zecc said:

    @wonkoTheSane said:

    Javascript when :hover would do it and not require the user to have JS enabled? I wonder where the WTFs in the original portal came from 😉
    Does IE>6 support :hover for non-anchor elements (in this case, a span)? It's been a couple of years since I've cared about IE...

     

    IE 7 added support for the :hover pseudo-class to every element. It still doesn't support :active. As far as I know, the situation is the same with the IE 8 betas.



  •  @Zecc said:

    It's been a couple of years since I've cared about IE...

    Just making sure; you don't do webdev, do you?



  • @dhromed said:

     @Zecc said:

    It's been a couple of years since I've cared about IE...

    Just making sure; you don't do webdev, do you?

    I do, I just don't care about IE. 🙂

    Ok, I do care (a little). But I'm not the person designing the CSS. I'm doing mostly server-side development.

    I only test in IE as a last stop; specially since I've moved to Linux.



  • @Zecc said:

    @dhromed said:

     @Zecc said:

    It's been a couple of years since I've cared about IE...

    Just making sure; you don't do webdev, do you?

    I do, I just don't care about IE. 🙂

    Ok, I do care (a little). But I'm not the person designing the CSS. I'm doing mostly server-side development.

    I only test in IE as a last stop; specially since I've moved to Linux.

    It's not your job to decide what browser should be used. Your job is to make sure the site works.



  • No, his job is to write server side code, as stated.  It's some othe poor bastard's job to make sure the site works w.r.t. CSS & Javascript.



  • @stratos said:

     You know, perhaps the guy was a designer and only a designer. While often webdesigners are also tasked with creating the html/css and sometimes js. It certainly wouldn't be a stretch to find a shop where the designer only makes the design and makes a mock-up in something like dreamweaver and hands that to the web developer who cleans up the html/css and adds the site logic.

     

    That's really more of a graphic designer than a web designer.  Besides, did you miss all the parts describing his resume, or do you just not care that a person would lie on one?



  •  @stratos said:

     You know, perhaps the guy was a designer and only a designer. While often webdesigners are also tasked with creating the html/css and sometimes js. It certainly wouldn't be a stretch to find a shop where the designer only makes the design and makes a mock-up in something like dreamweaver and hands that to the web developer who cleans up the html/css and adds the site logic.

     

    But he had CSS on his resume, and his portfolio of work was static HTML content.

    If he's only a graphic designer, then his portfolio should contain hi-res images of his graphic designs.

    Not to mention that if had any real value at all, he would have shifted the interview to focus on his value. "Sorry, the job description didn't say anything about programming. I'm really more of a Photoshop guy. But if you're looking for Photoshop experience, let me show you what I've done..."



  •  @Renan said:

    The part of the site where I do most of my work is a legacy asp page
    which includes seven other asp files. Six files are always the same but
    one varies according to the querystring.
     

    And now for the bad news 🙂

    Classic ASP (or ASP 3) doesn't do conditional includes the way you would expect it (ie, the way PHP does). Classic ASP loads the requested file, replaces all of the include statements with the content from each of the referenced files, then does syntax, etc and executes the big conglomerated mess. So if you have 6 includes that are always executed and X conditionally included files, you are in reality loading 1+6+X files into one huge script every time someone calls the URL.

    Add in Dreamweaver and you would probably be better off throwing away the functional code and rewriting. Even if you don't spend any particular time making it more efficient you will still end up with a faster, cleaner, more functional back-end.



  • @Tarwn said:

    And now for the bad news 🙂


    I like you already.

    @Tarwn said:

    Classic ASP (or ASP 3) doesn't do conditional includes the way you would expect it (ie, the way PHP does). Classic ASP loads the requested file, replaces all of the include statements with the content from each of the referenced files, then does syntax, etc and executes the big conglomerated mess. So if you have 6 includes that are always executed and X conditionally included files, you are in reality loading 1+6+X files into one huge script every time someone calls the URL.

    I know, and I should've explained it better. The varying file isn't actually included, the original coders use the getFileContents function instead. Which leads to yet another considerable amount of WTF.


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