Software Company CEO: "I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar."

Kyle Wiens, the CEO of a software development company, gives an English grammar test to prospective employees. Here's why:

If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use "it's," then that's not a learning curve I'm comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Grammar signifies more than just a person's ability to remember high school English. I've found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.

But why is this important for computer programmers?

You see, at its core, code is prose. Great programmers are more than just code monkeys; according to Stanford programming legend Donald Knuth they are "essayists who work with traditional aesthetic and literary forms." The point: programming should be easily understood by real human beings — not just computers.

And just like good writing and good grammar, when it comes to programming, the devil's in the details. In fact, when it comes to my whole business, details are everything.

I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don't think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren't important.

Link -via Joe Carter | Photo: puuikiebeach

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Kyle Wiens, the CEO of a software development company, gives an English grammar test to viewpoint company.
I also believe that they will be introducing new breakthrough technologies and a fundamental shift in user interface design.
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In some ways, yes. On the other hand, what about someone who uses ebonics (African American Vernacular English)? The instructions are just as complex as Standard American English, but someone using ebonics would fail (probably -- I don't know enough about the grammar differences).
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I teach APA and MLA documentation to college students a lot and this essay reminded me of why. Documentation and style standards are complex sets of instructions. You may not have to write in one after college, but you will have to follow complex instructions. Writing in a standard documentation style is good practice for people who haven't developed the mental habit of reading and following directions.
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