Hiring guide for Assembly Engineers

Assembly Developer Hiring Guide

Assembly language is a low-level programming language for a computer, often utilized to directly manipulate hardware operations. Its origins date back to the 1940s when it was developed as an alternative to machine code (TechTarget). As a symbolic representation of machine codes, it provides more readability and simplicity than raw binary code (Britannica). Each assembly language corresponds to one specific computer architecture, unlike high-level languages which are generally portable across multiple systems (Computer Hope). Despite its complexity and lack of portability, assembly language allows for precise control and efficient use of system resources.

Ask the right questions secure the right Assembly talent among an increasingly shrinking pool of talent.

First 20 minutes

General Assembly app knowledge and experience

The first 20 minutes of the interview should seek to understand the candidate's general background in Assembly application development, including their experience with various programming languages, databases, and their approach to designing scalable and maintainable systems.

What are the basic components of an Assembly language?
The basic components of an Assembly language are directives, instructions, macros, comments, and operators.
How would you explain the use of registers in Assembly language?
Registers are used to store data temporarily during the execution of a program. They are faster to access than memory and are used to hold intermediate and final results of operations.
What is the role of an assembler in Assembly language programming?
An assembler is a program that takes basic computer instructions and converts them into a pattern of bits that the computer's processor can use to perform its basic operations.
Describe the difference between high-level languages and Assembly language.
High-level languages are portable and easier to understand as they are closer to human language. Assembly language is a low-level language specific to a hardware platform and provides more control over system resources.
What are the different types of assemblers?
There are two types of assemblers: one-pass assemblers and two-pass assemblers. One-pass assemblers go through the source code once and translate it into machine code. Two-pass assemblers go through the source code twice, the first pass to build a symbol table and the second pass to generate machine code.
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What you’re looking for early on

Has the candidate demonstrated a strong understanding of Assembly language?
Does the candidate have experience with low-level programming?
Is the candidate able to solve complex problems?
Does the candidate show a good understanding of debugging techniques?

Next 20 minutes

Specific Assembly development questions

The next 20 minutes of the interview should focus on the candidate's expertise with specific backend frameworks, their understanding of RESTful APIs, and their experience in handling data storage and retrieval efficiently.

How would you use a loop in Assembly language?
Loops in Assembly language can be created using jump instructions. The loop condition is checked, and if it's true, a jump instruction sends the execution back to the start of the loop. If it's false, execution continues with the instruction following the loop.
What is the purpose of the stack in Assembly language?
The stack is used for storing temporary data, passing parameters to procedures, and controlling the sequence of execution.
Describe the difference between JMP and CALL instructions in Assembly language.
JMP is an unconditional jump instruction that transfers control to another part of the program. CALL is used to call a procedure, after which control returns to the instruction following the CALL.
How would you handle errors in Assembly language?
Error handling in Assembly language can be done using interrupt routines, checking the flags register after operations, or using specific error handling instructions if available.
What is the role of an interrupt in Assembly language?
An interrupt is a signal to the processor to pause the current program execution and switch to a special interrupt service routine. It can be used for handling errors, performing I/O operations, or other special tasks.
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The ideal back-end app developer

What you’re looking to see on the Assembly engineer at this point.

At this point, a skilled Assembly engineer should demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities, proficiency in Assembly programming language, and knowledge of software development methodologies. Red flags include lack of hands-on experience, inability to articulate complex concepts, or unfamiliarity with standard coding practices.

Digging deeper

Code questions

These will help you see the candidate's real-world development capabilities with Assembly.

What does this assembly language code do?
MOV AX, 05
This code moves the value 5 into the AX register. Then, it copies the value from AX to CX. After that, it adds the values of AX and CX and stores the result in AX. Finally, it moves the value from AX to BX. So, BX will have the double of the initial value of AX, which is 10.
What will be the output of this assembly language code?
MOV AX, 07
MOV BX, 03
This code moves the value 7 into the AX register and the value 3 into the BX register. Then, it subtracts the value in BX from the value in AX and stores the result in AX. Finally, it moves the value from AX to CX. So, the output will be the value in CX register, which is 4.
What does this assembly language code do with the array?
MOV CX, [ArrayLength]
MOV AX, [ArrayStart + SI]
LOOP ArrayIteration
This code iterates over an array of word-sized elements. It initializes the SI register to 0 and loads the length of the array into the CX register. Then, it enters a loop where it loads each element of the array into the AX register, increments the SI register by 2 (to move to the next word-sized element), and repeats this process for the length of the array.
What does this assembly language code do related to threading or concurrency?
MOV CX, 10
MOV [SharedVar], AX
JNZ Start
This code creates a simple loop that increments a shared variable. It initializes the AX register to 0 and the CX register to 10. Then, it enters a loop where it increments the AX register, stores the value of AX in a shared variable, decrements the CX register, and repeats this process until CX is zero. This could be a part of a simple concurrent program where multiple threads are incrementing a shared variable.

Wrap-up questions

Final candidate for Assembly Developer role questions

The final few questions should evaluate the candidate's teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, assess their knowledge of microservices architecture, serverless computing, and how they handle Assembly application deployments. Inquire about their experience in handling system failures and their approach to debugging and troubleshooting.

How would you optimize Assembly code for better performance?
Optimizing Assembly code can involve minimizing memory access, using registers efficiently, optimizing loop structures, and taking advantage of specific processor features.
What are the challenges of programming in Assembly language?
Assembly language programming can be complex and time-consuming, as it requires detailed knowledge of the hardware. Debugging can also be difficult due to the low-level nature of the language.
Describe the difference between RISC and CISC architectures from an Assembly language perspective.
RISC architectures have a smaller set of simpler instructions, which can lead to more efficient code. CISC architectures have a larger set of complex instructions, which can make programming easier but potentially less efficient.

Assembly application related

Product Perfect's Assembly development capabilities

Beyond hiring for your Assembly engineering team, you may be in the market for additional help. Product Perfect provides seasoned expertise in Assembly projects, and can engage in multiple capacities.