Linked by snydeq on Thu 3rd Nov 2011 18:41 UTC
General Development Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister discusses the use of quizzes and brain-teasers in evaluating potential software development hires, a practice that seems to be on the rise. 'The company best known for this is Google. Past applicants tell tales of a head-spinning battery of coding problems, riddles, and brain teasers, many of which seem only tangential to the task of software development. Other large companies have similar practices -- Facebook and Microsoft being two examples,' McAllister writes. 'You'll need to assess an applicant's skill in one way or another, but it's also possible to take the whole interview-testing concept too far. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when crafting your test questions, to avoid slamming the door on candidates unnecessarily.'
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Comment by snorkel2
by snorkel2 on Fri 4th Nov 2011 20:41 UTC
Member since:

I won't go to interviews where they give you a test with no prior warning, those are freaking ridiculous.

In a real world situation it's unlikely you would ever
have to deal with a "test" like situation. All those stupid tests do is find people who are good at tests and trivia. I remember in college there where people who were way smarter than me, probably at the genius IQ level and did great at tests, but they could never get their assignments done and didn't do any better in the class than me.

I went to this one interview and they wanted me to write a program on the spot that could reverse a string without using any additional memory than the string originally used. It's not easy to do. I simply walked out as the ahole interviewing me was standing over my shoulder critiquing me as I was working. NOT COOL OR PROFESSIONAL. I later looked it up on Google and he was using the Guerrilla Interview tactics by Joel Splosky and it took 3 good programmers half a day to properly solve the reverse a string using no more memory than the string originally uses.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by snorkel2
by Alfman on Fri 4th Nov 2011 22:36 in reply to "Comment by snorkel2"
Alfman Member since:


"I won't go to interviews where they give you a test with no prior warning, those are freaking ridiculous."

Logically speaking, they would be impossible to avoid. ;)

"I went to this one interview and they wanted me to write a program on the spot that could reverse a string without using any additional memory than the string originally used."

Isn't it simple enough to use two iterators and swapping the characters? But if your going to an interview to do databases, guis, web development, etc then yea the problem doesn't reflect the job.

The majority of these questions do a terrible job defining border conditions while looking for something specific. One interview I was asked about what was needed for recursion to work. I replied that a stack being needed, the ability to push the current address to the stack and continuing to execute at a new address, and then the ability to returning to old address on the stack. The interviewer was looking for "an exit condition". So although I could obviously implement a recursive function in my sleep, he thought I failed the question. A far better test would have been to have me write a recursive function on paper.

Reply Parent Score: 3

funny_irony Member since:

When the HR manager receives a request to hire some smart people to do programming and that HR manager doesn't know how to find them. He/she will rip off some tough IQ questions from somewhere and request the candidates to answer them. This kind of tough test show that the company have no idea what kind of candidates they are looking for.

Recently, my company want to open a factory in Philippines and want to hire three Filipino Java Programmers. My company get about 3000 applicants for the three vacancy.

However, the HR manager doesn't know how to set the test to filter away the unsuitable candidates.

Fortunately, he is humble enough to ask me for help and I prepare 20 questions for him to test their Java knowledge.

I also prepare a simple Java program with errors for the candidates to test their debugging skills.

The right candidate must have knowledge, skills and good attitude. Their attitude can only be tested during their probation.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by snorkel2
by snorkel2 on Mon 7th Nov 2011 19:47 in reply to "RE: Comment by snorkel2"
snorkel2 Member since:

The test was given in Delphi (pascal), and the solution
involved using a combination of pointers and something else I can't remember right now.(this was back in 2006)
You couldn't just reverse the string in the obvious way because the compiler would allocate additional memory to do the swaps. I will see if I can find the link to the article that shows what the real solution for it is.
In the real world with today's systems, does anyone really care if you use a extra byte to reverse a string?
What's more important is that you free your resources when using a non garbage collected language.

Reply Parent Score: 1