Passion vs. Bleh

I read this Coding Horror post with interest and couldn’t help smiling. Whilst most people I interview can write simple programs, I consider that to be a pretty low bar for the kind of people we are looking for, although the FizzBuzz questions are kind of fun. Taking the example provided, I offer the following timings:

  • Starting visual studio: 1 minute (didn’t have a pen and paper handy so I had to write it).
  • Writing first version of the program: 25 seconds.
  • Writing the second version that deals with the corner cases: 15 seconds.

Interestingly – I wonder how many people implement the corner cases and whether they ask for clarification on the requirements πŸ™‚

Personally, I think what a lot of it boils down to is passion. Someone who is passionate will seek to do the things that they want to do, no matter what it is, so chances are that if you spot a passionate programmer they probably have what it takes to be good at their job.

Note: There is a big difference between being passionate in the job interview, and being passionate 24/7 – you typically have to spot 24/7 passion in the wild.

User groups and other such community gatherings are a great way to find passionate developers in the wild. The trick is netting them πŸ™‚


7 thoughts on “Passion vs. Bleh

  1. Mark Wisecarver

    We view this sort of thing much diferently than we did 80 years ago, even though people are still the same. Did an outstanding Blacksmith have a passion for his work, or was it simply something his hands were cut out to do? Was the young warrior chosen for his skills, or passion? Passion for your skill is without a doubt a blessing but I long for the day when the World’s Architects and Engineers were people of skill, even perfection, with or without a passion, so it seems…

  2. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Mark,

    I’d argue that someone who is skillful without passion is rare, you usually need passion to give you the focus required to become skilled in something.

  3. Angus

    OK, I’ll bite… what are the “corner cases” for a problem this simple? FizzBuzz? The only real thing I can think of is performance optimisation, by making sure you don’t call the modulo operator more times than is necessary.

    (Also, I agree that becoming skillful at something, especially a professional skill, surely requires a degree of passion no matter how much inheritent aptitude you have for it.)

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