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What kind of programming work do you like best?

Posted by staufferjames on January 23, 2008 at 12:18 PM PST

When interviewing candidates (only 3-4 interviews) I would ask them the following question:
What kind of programming work do you like best?

They always gave then same basic answer: Creating new software.
Since that isn't the answer that I would give I asked my co-workers and between 4 of us we had 3 different answers:

  1. Creating something new
  2. Debugging problems
  3. Improving (adding features, improving performance, etc).

Would you give one of those answers? Do you have a different answer?

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gadominas: My question was not about what kind of work they do but what kind they
like best.

There's a nice proverb: "there's no stupid questions, only the answers can be stupid". Your example with the candidates works according to this proverb rule :) It would be easy to answer to your question if my professional position is sticked to the one, stable problem area. We all debugging problems. We like or not. We all creating something new with every LOC, but this not means that new is equal something useful. We all improving performance after our unitest's results or QA reports. My shot would be one of these answers: "* writing business logic. * designing the UI side. * creating the fundamental API for my team (inhouse frameworks) * designing solutions."

virtualrob: "Developing algorithms" sounds like it fits under "Creating something new"

Developing algorithms.

I think refactoring is similar to improving but I'm not sure that it should be lumped with it.

Simpler. Yes. That is the essence.

Agreed. My greatest joy is deleting code and replacing it with a smaller, simpler, more elegant piece of code.

Refactoring. Cleaning house.