What to look for in a Great Perl Programmer

2016-04-19 15:14:46 admin Perl Interests 0 Comments

Programming jobs are on the rise and have been so for a while now, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everybody in the available roster is great or good at what they do.  Great Perl developers are assets for your company, but finding or better yet, identifying the right ones can often be difficult.

Finding the right developers is hard, if it would be easy everybody would have great developers. This is valid in any programming language, but in Perl more than in others because it can be very easy to let yourself be a mediocre Perl developer. Perl is easy to learn, we keep saying that, but it’s not easy to learn it well. You can know Perl to work in Perl, to do your tasks and be productive. But, this doesn’t make you a great programmer, just an average one.

A lot of people know a bit of Perl, enough to handle small tasks, but a programming language is like art, some can make scenery paintings, others can paint Mona Lisas. There are plenty of programmers out there that know Perl well, they can be more than just productive, they can be efficient, but the ratio between great devs and just devs is leaning on the latter.

Every Human Resources professional out there has to file through a mountain of CVs to get to that applicant that is truly right for the job. But does the recruiter want right, or great? How does that great developer stand out from the pool? There isn’t one answer here, that would be way too easy, it’s just a few things that you can look at, signals that point to someone who wants more than to get it done, someone who can do it well, who codes in style, who thinks about the unthinkable.

There’s also another hiccup in the process, spotting a good Perl programmer is hard if you’re not a good one yourself, like the saying goes, it takes one to know one. Here are two ways that can help you narrow down the pool of candidates.

Look for Skills and Interests

You can get a lot from a CV even when you have to sift through the nonsense. Here are a few skills that a great Perl programmer has to have:

  • A know how in CPAN modules

  • A know how in using  the latest Perl tools

  • Be up to date on any development in the field. Perl is constantly changing, you don’t want someone who lives in 2013

  • As such, you want a person who is interested in development, a very important part of being a great programmer is joining Perl Mongers groups, events, workshops, hackathons, and YAPC; this is not just a great way of being active in the community, but also a way to see interest in personal growth 

  • Subscribing to mailing lists for projects and current websites and owning a few Perl cornerstone books shows someone who is interested in self development, that’s someone you want around. When they grow, your company grows

Ask Questions

Every programming language is practical and the best test is a practical one, but in order to do, you have to do know, so ask the questions that show who knows and who pretends to know. Here are a few question you can ask at your next interview, or questions you can find the answers to before your next interview.

  • What's the difference between accessing an array element with $items[$index] and @items[$index]?

  • What's the difference between == and eq?

  • How do you look up keywords in the Perl documentation?

  • What is the difference between a function and a method in Perl 5?

  • When does Perl 5 reclaim the memory used by a variable?

  • What happens when you pass an array into a function?

  • How do you pass one or more distinct arrays into a function?

  • Where do tests go in a standard CPAN distribution?

  • How do you run tests in a standard CPAN distribution?

  • What command do you use to install new distributions from the CPAN?

  • Why would you use the three-argument form of the open builtin?

  • What is the difference between reading a file with for and with while?

  • How do you handle parameters within a method or function in Perl 5?

  • Is new a builtin function/keyword?

These questions can demonstrate the full understanding of Perl and the ability to use it properly, to use it well. You can feel free to add further questions that you think any great Perl Programmer should be able to answer. You can also add your Perl job here, we’ll help you spread the word.



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