when listening to the last podcast today, Joel and Jeff were discussing if it is fair to use the Stackoverflow status as a means to filter potential job candidates.

I thought, wouldn't it be much simpler if a job applicant can take a test in any area he/she is comfortable in?

Actual questions from Stackoverflow could be used.

So for instance, Person A mentions that he's very good in cobol, and so is then offered 10 cobol questions taken from SO. They could then have to answer these questions (free form), or maybe they get presented 3 answers and they have to pick their favorite and mention why.

This way you get a good indication what someone's level might be, instead of only taking a reputation score which some people take more time to pursue than others.

p.s. When writing this down, I can see this is not very trivial to implement, but with the amazing amount of knowledge stored on SO, something like this should be feasible

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    I had to check whether there were in fact 10 cobol questions on SO. In fact, there are 86! – ベレアー アダム Dec 10 '09 at 16:32
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    I love how out of all the topics you could pick for an example, you choose cobol. – Troggy Dec 10 '09 at 16:48
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    I picked cobol because it was featured on one of the stackoverflow podcasts as an urban myth. Everyone has heard that there is still millions and million lines of cobol, yet no-one seems to know anyone who programs cobol. ;^) – Toad Dec 10 '09 at 19:38

Given that most of the questions are easily answered with 10 minutes research using an internet connection, I'm not sure the suggested implementation would work.

There are numerous problems with custom tests, and I don't see any significant benefit. I'd be much more inclined to let employers judge these things at the interview.

  • one can always cheat... Although this will surely be exposed soon enough by the first interview. So it's in no-one's interest – Toad Dec 11 '09 at 8:09

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