Hiring guide for TeX Engineers

TeX Developer Hiring Guide

TeX is a high-quality typesetting system, developed by Donald Knuth in 1978 at Stanford University, primarily for mathematical and technical documentation. It's not just a programming language but also an intricate blend of macro package and markup language. The name "TeX" references both the Greek word 't????' (art or craft) and its English homophone 'tech'. Knuth created TeX to improve the aesthetic quality of complex mathematical texts after being dissatisfied with traditional typesetting methods. Today, it remains widely used in academia due to its precision and ability to handle complex scientific formulas (source: https://www.tug.org/whatis.html).

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

First 20 minutes

General TeX app knowledge and experience

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

How would you define TeX?
TeX is a typesetting system that is widely used for mathematical and scientific documents. It was created by Donald Knuth in the late 1970s.
What are the main components of a TeX system?
The main components of a TeX system are the TeX engine, macro packages like LaTeX, and a DVI or PDF viewer.
How would you create a simple document in TeX?
To create a simple document in TeX, you would start with a preamble that specifies the document class and any packages you want to use. Then, you would begin the document, add your content, and end the document.
What is the purpose of the preamble in a TeX document?
The preamble in a TeX document is used to specify the document class and to load any packages that you want to use in the document.
How would you add a section heading in a TeX document?
To add a section heading in a TeX document, you would use the \section command followed by the title of the section in curly braces.
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What you’re looking for early on

Has the candidate demonstrated a solid understanding of TeX language?
Does the candidate have experience with LaTeX or other TeX-based systems?
Is the candidate able to solve complex problems?
Can the candidate work well in a team?

Next 20 minutes

Specific TeX 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.

What are some common packages used in TeX and what are their uses?
Some common packages used in TeX include 'geometry' for page layout, 'graphicx' for including graphics, 'amsmath' for advanced math typesetting, and 'hyperref' for creating hyperlinks.
How would you create a table in TeX?
To create a table in TeX, you would use the tabular environment. You would specify the number and alignment of columns in the beginning, and then add the content of the table row by row.
Describe the difference between the 'article' and 'report' document classes in TeX.
The 'article' document class in TeX is designed for short documents and journal articles, while the 'report' document class is designed for longer reports containing several chapters.
How would you handle errors in a TeX document?
When an error occurs in a TeX document, TeX will stop processing and display a message indicating the type and location of the error. You would then need to correct the error and rerun TeX.
What are the different ways to include graphics in a TeX document?
Graphics can be included in a TeX document using the 'graphicx' package. The \includegraphics command is used to include the graphic, and options can be specified to adjust the size and position of the graphic.
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The ideal back-end app developer

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

At this point, a skilled TeX engineer should demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities, proficiency in TeX 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 TeX.

What does this simple TeX command do: '\textbf{Hello, World!}'?
\textbf{Hello, World!}
This command will print the text 'Hello, World!' in bold.
What will be the output of the following TeX command: '\frac{1}{2}'?
This command will output a fraction with the numerator 1 and the denominator 2.
What does this TeX command do: '\begin{itemize}\item Apple\item Banana\item Cherry\end{itemize}'?
\begin{itemize}\item Apple\item Banana\item Cherry\end{itemize}
This command will create a bullet list with the items 'Apple', 'Banana', and 'Cherry'.
What will be the output of the following TeX command: '\begin{tabular}{|c|c|}\hline Text1 & Text2 \\ \hline\end{tabular}'?
\begin{tabular}{|c|c|}\hline Text1 & Text2 \\ \hline\end{tabular}
This command will create a table with one row and two columns. The cells will contain 'Text1' and 'Text2' respectively.

Wrap-up questions

Final candidate for TeX 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 TeX application deployments. Inquire about their experience in handling system failures and their approach to debugging and troubleshooting.

How would you create a bibliography in a TeX document?
To create a bibliography in a TeX document, you would use the 'bibliography' environment. You would list your references using the \bibitem command, and then use the \cite command in the text to cite the references.
Describe the difference between TeX and LaTeX.
TeX is the typesetting system itself, while LaTeX is a macro package that uses TeX. LaTeX provides a higher level of commands and makes it easier to format and structure documents.
What are some advanced features of TeX that you have used?
Some advanced features of TeX that I have used include custom macro definitions, conditional typesetting, and direct manipulation of boxes and glue.

TeX application related

Product Perfect's TeX development capabilities

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