Know your terminology

Ikea Job Interview
Ikea Job Interview

I interviewed at a Web development firm recently; it was a nice place. Very anti-corporate, which if you know anything about me, you know I dig that

The interview itself was a ‘gang’ interview, with five separate personalities in the room (not including my own):

  1. The One that Made Me Feel Comfortable
  2. The Observer
  3. The-Quiet-Yet-Perceptive-One
  4. the Alpha
  5. The I-don’t-say-much-but-I-know-what-I’m-talking-about one. 

As it happens, the Observer was actually the Grand Poobah (Or Head Honcho, or Big Cheese, but I generally refrain from cliché in my posts. No. Really.), but he elected to remain quiet throughout the interview.

The interview itself ranged from questions about me and what I’ve done, to Questions I know the answer to, to questions I don’t know off the top of my head but when not surrounded by 5 people and really nervous I could probably answer, to questions I know I don’t know the answer to and said as much, and Zombies. 

I really wish Zombies had been brought up first.

P.S.: If I had known I could pick *any* weapon (real or not) to fight zombies, then I would have probably picked the Disc Launcher from Tribes.  Just hearing that whirring noise brings back memories.  As it stands, I think the Double barreled Shotgun from Doom was a good choice. If these are 28-days-later zombies, you’re going to want something upclose and personal because that’s where the zombies are.

Anyway, back to the interview: The Alpha asked me about CSS Selectors.  CSS-what? Keep in mind, I’m implementing a new layout for Stack Blog (that will replace this blog’s current layout), I’ve implemented stylesheets for my work on St. Anns, and I tweaked an already existing layout for Big Spring.  Most recently (read: last week) I created the CSS For the Project dashboard.

The question specifically was, “What are CSS Selectors?” My (stupid) answer? I don’t know. Or at least, I thought I didn’t. I’d heard the word, but wasn’t about to BS an answer.

Turns out I use them all the time, I just didn’t know what they were called.

If you’ve ever seen this:

#main {
font-family: Helvetica, Arial, Verdana;
font-size: 0.9em;
border: 1px solid #ccc;

then you’ve used CSS selectors. That thing up top, before the curly braces? That’s an ‘id’; specifically a div id named ‘main’. And it’s a selector.  ‘Selector’ is just a fancy word for ‘that which I will apply the style to‘.*  You can apply them to divs, html elements, and just about anything you want. You can even apply them to specific lines inside of Paragragh tags.

I learned an important lesson from that interview: Know your terminology. I’d been using selectors for years, but had never realized that’s what they were called.


*That’s only a smidgen of what’s really out there for Selectors.  Glancing through the list on this page, there are some formats I’ve used, and others I haven’t.  Of course, I’m not telling the full story, there is more to selectors than that. If you’re interested, this site goes through the nitty-gritty of CSS selectors.

Leave a Reply