Hiring guide for Zsh Engineers

Zsh Developer Hiring Guide

Zsh, also known as the Z shell, is a Unix shell that is built on the features of other shells such as Bash and ksh. It includes a variety of features, including improved tab completion, globbing, and array handling, that are not found in other shells. Zsh is highly customizable, allowing users to create a personalized environment that suits their specific needs. It also includes features to improve scripting, such as spell checking and error handling. Zsh is popular among developers for its interactive features, which can improve productivity and efficiency.

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

First 20 minutes

General Zsh app knowledge and experience

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

How would you describe the main features of Zsh?
Zsh has many features including command-line completion, spelling correction, programmable command-line interface, loadable modules, and compatibility mode for Bash and other shells.
What are globbing patterns in Zsh?
Globbing patterns in Zsh are used to match file and directory names. They include features like recursive globbing (**), glob qualifiers, and approximate matching.
How would you enable case-insensitive tab completion in Zsh?
To enable case-insensitive tab completion in Zsh, you would add 'zstyle ':completion:*' matcher-list 'm:{a-z}={A-Z}' to your .zshrc file.
What is the purpose of the .zshrc file?
The .zshrc file is a script that runs whenever a new Zsh shell is launched. It is used to configure the shell environment.
Describe the difference between Zsh and Bash.
While both are powerful shell programs, Zsh has more advanced features such as improved tab completion and globbing. However, Bash is more common and scripts written for Bash may not work in Zsh without modification.
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What you’re looking for early on

Has the candidate demonstrated a strong understanding of Zsh scripting?
Did the candidate show experience with Unix/Linux systems?
Has the candidate shown problem-solving skills during the interview?
Does the candidate have experience with other shell scripting languages like Bash or Ksh?

Next 20 minutes

Specific Zsh 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 create a custom prompt in Zsh?
To create a custom prompt in Zsh, you would modify the PROMPT variable in your .zshrc file. For example, 'PROMPT='%n@%m %~%# '' would display the username, machine name, and current directory.
What are Zsh plugins and how would you use them?
Zsh plugins are packages that add extra functionality to the shell. They can be added to the plugins array in the .zshrc file and loaded with the source command.
Describe the difference between aliases, functions, and scripts in Zsh.
Aliases are simple shortcuts for commands, functions are blocks of code that can be called by name, and scripts are standalone programs. Functions and scripts can take arguments, while aliases cannot.
How would you handle errors in a Zsh script?
Errors in a Zsh script can be handled with the '||' operator, which runs a command if the previous command fails. The 'set -e' option can also be used to exit the script if any command fails.
What is parameter expansion in Zsh and how would you use it?
Parameter expansion is a feature that allows you to manipulate the value of a parameter within a command. For example, '${parameter#pattern}' removes the shortest match of pattern from the beginning of parameter.
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The ideal back-end app developer

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

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

What does the following Zsh code do?
This code prints the version of the Zsh shell that is currently in use.
What will be the output of the following Zsh code?
for i in {1..5}; do echo $i; done
This code will print the numbers from 1 to 5, each on a new line.
What does the following Zsh code do?
arr=(1 2 3 4 5); echo ${arr[2]}
This code creates an array with five elements and then prints the second element of the array, which is '2'.
What does the following Zsh code do?
coproc { sleep 5; echo 'Hello, World!'; }
This code starts a coprocess that sleeps for 5 seconds and then prints 'Hello, World!'. The coprocess runs concurrently with the shell.

Wrap-up questions

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

How would you use arrays in Zsh?
Arrays in Zsh can be created with the 'array=(element1 element2 ...)' syntax. Elements can be accessed with '${array[index]}', and the entire array with '${array[@]}' or '${array[*]}'.
What is the Zsh option EXTENDED_GLOB and how would you use it?
The EXTENDED_GLOB option enables extended globbing features in Zsh. It can be set with 'setopt EXTENDED_GLOB', and used to create more complex file matching patterns.
How would you use the Zsh line editor (ZLE)?
The Zsh line editor can be used to edit command lines in place. It supports features like undo, redo, copy and paste, and can be customized with key bindings.

Zsh application related

Product Perfect's Zsh development capabilities

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