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Jacob Kaplan-Moss

Jacob Kaplan-Moss jacobian.org

Quality is systemic

Jacob Kaplan-Moss with a hot take on software quality:

Software quality is more the result of a system designed to produce quality, and not so much the result of individual performance. That is: a group of mediocre programmers working with a structure designed to produce quality will produce better software than a group of fantastic programmers working in a system designed with other goals.

What does he mean by “a system designed for quality”? Read on to see for yourself..

The Changelog The Changelog #479

Principles for hiring engineers

This week we’re joined by Jacob Kaplan-Moss and we’re talking about his extensive writing on work sample tests. These tests are an exercise, a simulation, or a small slice of real day-to-day work that candidates will perform as part of their job. Over the years, as an engineering leader, Jacob has become a practicing expert in effectively hiring engineers — today he shares a wealth of knowledge on the subject.

Jacob Kaplan-Moss jacobian.org

An introduction to work sample tests

Jacob Kaplan-Moss, who has been writing a lot about good interview questions and how to hire well:

Work sample tests are an exercise, a simulation, a small slice of real day-to-day work that we ask candidates to perform. They’re practical, hands-on, and very close or even identical to actual tasks the person would perform if hired. They’re also small, constrained, and simplified enough to be fair to include in a job selection process.

To give you a more concrete idea of what I’m talking about, here are several examples of work sample tests I’ve used…

And just in case you think he’s prescribing whiteboarding…

However, work sample tests are also a minefield: the space is littered with silly practices like whiteboarding, FizzBuzz, Leetcode, and “reverse a linked list”-style bullshit. The point of this series is to separate these silly practices from the good ones and to give you a framework and several examples to use in your hiring rounds.

Jacob Kaplan-Moss jacobian.org

Software estimation is hard. Do it anyway.

Jacob Kaplan-Moss begins where I often do when discussing estimation:

One study by HBR found that one in six IT projects had cost overruns of over 200% and were late by almost 70%. Another study by McKinsey found that IT projects are on average 45% over budget and 7% over schedule. They found large software projects were particularly bad: software projects with budgets over $15M went over budget by an overage of 66% and had schedule overruns averaging 33%.

Nonetheless, there are good reasons to estimate anyhow… and you can get better at it over time.

One major “secret” to advancing in a technical career is learning how to give accurate estimates. It certainly has been for me: I don’t shy away from giving timelines, and I’ve learned how to be right often enough that folks trust my estimates.

If you always avoid estimation and don’t learn how to give a timeline when it’s required, that might become a limiter on your career. Being able to tell your bosses and peers what to expect by when – and then hitting those marks – builds trust in a major way.

If you like this post, maybe follow it up with the one where he covers his technique for estimation.

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