Saturday, March 12, 2016

The MSCS who couldn't

I recently took part in some interviews for prospective interns at my company. I normally like doing interviews. I like talking to people about the projects they've worked on and what their interests are. I also like seeing different approaches to the programming problems I present.
Some of the interviews went well. A couple candidates came up with approaches that I hadn't seen before. In the end, their solutions didn't work but it was interesting to see how they thought through the problems and iterated as they went.
One interview did not go well and left me depressed for a few days afterward. The candidate looked good on paper - they had already completed a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and were close to finishing their Master's. They'd also listed programming projects they had done and languages they were supposedly comfortable working in.
Right before I started the technical question, the candidate mentioned "by the way, I'm not very comfortable programming." That threw me off a little bit - how could a Master's student in Computer Science not be comfortable programming. So we talked about it for a bit. I asked about what roles they had taken on the different projects and why programming languages were listed on the resume, and so forth. The more we talked, the worse it got. Not only was this student "not comfortable" with programming, they actually didn't have programming skills at all.
I'm really confused how this individual got through the system. Not only that they're earning a Master's degree in Computer Science, but they got through the HR process and got invited to an interview at Microsoft. I suppose if you have the right things on your resume and your degree can be verified - it came from an actual university, one that I attended early on - then that might be good enough to get an interview for an intern position.
It is still very disappointing. At one point, I was considering going back for a Master's in CS. I guess they don't mean that much after all.