I'm not a very demanding person. I'm pretty easy going and I try to see the best in people. However, recently I've been doing phone screens and interviews of potential candidates for a senior developer position for a project on which I am the technical lead and I've been stunned by the low quality of the majority of candidates.
I used to do pretty light phone screens: going over their resume and asking questions about it. But I found that when they arrived for a face-to-face technical interview they failed it dismally. So my phone screens have changed and I'm asking technical questions much earlier in the interview so I don't waste time.
Today I did two phone screens and I got no further than a few questions on basic programming and C#. Both candidates were ignorant of simple basics. I wasn't asking anything esoteric, just simple basics that any programmer worth the title should know. Sort of like asking an auto mechanic "What is an internal combustion engine?" If he doesn't know that then you sure aren't going to give him your car to fix.
I also read an article recently that said a senior programmer at Microsoft asked a particular question during interviews and that only 2 out of 200 applicants where able to answer it correctly. It was another very basic question.
This experience is making me think that our flashy, hi-tech society is actually teetering on the edge of catastrophe because the majority of people who create the flashy, hi-tech infrastructure don't understand what they are doing. It's a scary thought.
Luckily there are solution:
Reverse the Declining state of Literacy