Joe Kraus proposes three questions that can be used to deduce whether an engineer might be a good fit for a start-up. They are:

  1. Do you have a blog?
  2. What’s your home page? (He prefers people who have created their own home page.)
  3. Do you contribute to an open source project?

Currently, I only pass one of three tests. (It’s not hard to guess which one.) I think that the second is a bit off the mark. He assumes that people who create their own home page are tinkerers, and that’s a good attribute to have, I agree, but there are plenty of other ways to get there. Right now, my home page is about:blank. It’s been that way for awhile. On the other hand, my browser is souped up 9 ways to Sunday, so I suspect that I’d pass that test. Generally speaking, I don’t know too many people who have created a custom home page for their browser these days.

As far as open source contributions go, the bottom line is that he wants people for whom programming is an avocation rather than a vocation, a sentiment with which I agree completely. I think there are other ways to get there, but I don’t feel like this is a bad question. Good candidates who answer “no” will still be able to engage in an interesting discussion about they whys and wherefores of open source code and how they spend their time and what they get out of programming.

As far as the blogging question goes, I think that’s a question you should already know the answer to before you interview the person. If I’m going to interview someone, I’ll have already Googled them and even if they don’t blog necessarily, it would be nice to see that they participate on mailing lists, or discussion boards, or some other public forum and that their communication skills are solid (and that they aren’t raving lunatics).