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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Interview Help Sites

I recently when to Wikipedia and searched for Software Quality Assurance. The page for SQA contained two external links, both of which were the same site but different pages.

I went to the external links and found something I've found before, while trying to grow my knowledge of SQA. I found a site with Interview Questions.

The general idea behind these type of sites is a mish-mash of interview questions with answers. The site has some semblance of organization but as you go through it you will find the same questions with different answers. If I had to guess, someone set up a site to have people post questions they have been asked in interviews. The person is trying to remember the question and often forgets important details. So the questions are not well formed. On top of that, the answers to the questions are often from the people who failed the interview or various people trying to help the interviewee answer the question.

For example, there is a section on C language (NOT C++). The first question is "1.What is polymorphism?". Obviously not a C language question.

In some cases I wonder if the person who created the original question really knows what they are doing. For example,
10. What will be the output of the following code?

void main () {
int i = 0 , a[3];
a[i] = i++;

The answer posted notes that the a[0] will be assigned the value 0 then i will be incremented to a value of 1. The printf will attempt to reference a[1] but since nothing has been assigned to this, you will get back a random value.

This is very true. What should also be noted, if this is a C language question, is that the ANSI C standard requires main to return an int for defined behaviour. Declaring main as "void main()" is okay in C++ but not in C. In pre-ANSI C the keyword void did not exist. When you see something like:
printf("Hello world.\n");
return 0;

The default return type, when not explicitly indicated is an int. So the above snippet is the equivalent of:
int main()
printf("Hello world.\n");
return 0;

Many people wrongly assume no explicit return type means it returns void.

The questions on the interview web site have a lot of wrong answers. Oddly enough, I have conducted technical interview for hundreds of people on various languages and operating systems. I find a fair number of them seem to either have no knowledge of what they claim to know or they frequent these interview web sites and have bad knowledge of things they claim to know.

If you are surfing the web looking for answers to interview questions, think twice about the source of the information. Just surf the site and think are there things about the question which are questionable? Is the same question posted twice but with different answers? Are questions in the wrong section? Are there questions without answers? If the answer is yes to these questions then the person who is putting up the site probably knows as much or less than you.

Additionally, when I run a whois on the site, the owner of the site is hidden. If you don't know who owns the site, how do you know you can trust the information? Why don't they want you to know who they are?

Bottom line, if you try using these interview sites to make it through an interview you might get the job but you will not keep it. These sites are good for questions but you want to find out the answers for yourself and not trust the answers posted. I hang out on various forums and newsgroups. If you seem like someone who really wants to learn I'll help you out. If you just want to pass an interview I'll know it.

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