What kind of computer do you have? My first interview question.

Maybe it’s a bad idea to blog about this, because my future interviewees will know it before hand Smile. Well, if so, then be honest… and get a good computer. This is really the first question I ask when I’m interviewing for technical positions.

I started interviewing for frontend developers for an ASP.NET MVC project (Razor UI) and all of them used Macs, have never used VisualStudio before, but “we will figure it out” was the feeling at the moment.

We didn’t have a fully detached UI like an AngularJS frontend plus WebAPI in the backend (as we end up doing); how are you going to run this solution in your mac to work? But we had to move with a hire, and at the end we hired a Mac guy.

Awful experience to run the solution on his end on a VM, it was not just Mac it was a SLOW Mac which is worst. After several failed combinations to try to accommodate him, I detached the UI fully so they can have their Angular frontend on their Macs and the WebAPI backend was published to a server.

But I kept asking as first question “What kind of computer do you have?” not just because a concern about the Mac, it makes no difference for good developers and that’s the point. And I started thinking on all the implications of that and I really like this question now.

Well, the Mac itself? I don’t like them. Very expensive, you can get same performance for way much less money. But I don’t like Apple products anyway, they have this ability to enchant people to buy their new same-as-the-old-one-just-with-one-tiny-addition model. Maybe I shouldn’t like the people that use them instead of not liking the company for doing that? Well I can’t as my wife uses an iPhone so…

Anyway, asking for what kind of a computer do you have, will tell me if it’s a Mac of course but also will tell me a lot about the developer itself as I have found that developers that doesn’t have a high performance PC don’t care too much about their quality job. It’s a direct correlation in my opinion.

You can see developers that have mediocre computers at work because “the company provides the equipment”. That’s an excuse, I know good developers in those cases will convince their bosses to buy good stuff. And by the way if your boss doesn’t understand you need good equipment to work, go find another employer. If you can’t convince him with facts, then you probably doesn’t understand those facts affecting your performance and it’s relationship with your work.

You can also see people with monster computers for work, I don’t like that either but at least show you passion about it. I’m in favor of reuse old electronics, and have the right amount of processing power for the kind of computing that you do. If have too much that’s a waste of money and a waste of energy.

If you measure it, a slow computer slows you down. It’s incredible how much time you will waste, I have guess it but haven’t measure it as I have had fast computers all the time. Will post soon a deep measure on this with timings. I’m focused now from the interview point of view.

I’m not going to get into “how to make your computer faster”, no, but you should really measure where your bottle neck is and improve that. Is it your hard disk or your processor? Ram is usually good nowadays, 16G is common which is good for most things.

As an interviewee, if I ever have to interview you, please note that caring for your PC, having a fast and reliable PC tells a lot about you as a developer and as a professional. In my world view and moral system having a huge, extra computer will also tell me about you and how you waste resources.

What do you think of a chef with very bad appliances, non fresh ingredients, ugly stove? What do you think of a barber with rusted scissors? it’s the same thing with your computer if you are a developer.

But what do you think of a chef with a commercial kitchen to fry an egg? What do you think of a barber that state of the art LASER equipment to cut one hair that is bothering him? etc…

Do not use a cannon to kill a mosquito. Confucius.


Now, go and upgrade your PC, and don’t waste resources.