What Question Should We Have Asked?

Trevor was puzzled. On Monday, his new programmer, Dennis, arrived at work. Trevor waited for HR to fill this position for three long weeks. The backlog in programming the CNC machine was building and Project Managers were getting testy with the delays.

But Dennis had been working all morning on a program that should have been completed in twenty minutes. It became clear that something was wrong.

“Hey, mate. How’s it going?” Trevor asked.

Dennis looked sideways to see if anyone besides Trevor was around. “I have to tell you,” Dennis started, “I know it’s my first day, but, I’m struggling. When I finish this line of code and write one more, I will have two lines of code.”

“I thought you were a CNC programmer?” Trevor was kind, but, direct.

“Yes, I programmed CNC machines, but the code was always written for me. I mean, I can copy existing code, but writing it is a little beyond me.”

“But, didn’t HR ask you about coding in the interview?” Trevor wanted to know.

“Of course. They even asked me to bring in sample printouts of code from my previous job. So, I brought the code we used. I showed them several setups.”


“But, they never asked me who wrote the code,” Dennis looked sideways. “I just assumed they knew.”

Trevor grimaced. “What one question could we have asked in the interview so you could more clearly describe your background?”

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