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So you would be completely comfortable interviewing someone that claimed to have done 10 years of systems programming, including optimization, and yet when asked that question, just shrugged their shoulders and said, "I dunno"? Even if you asked them how fast a modern processor was and they still said, "I dunno"?



In your scenario, the question makes sense.

Personally, the question reads like "have you ever pieced-together a computer?" and one could argue that the question could weed out better candidates for certain positions. A growing number of younger engineers have only used machines that come glued-together, and never had to compare performance vs. price as they chose a CPU.`




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