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re: Why I hate coding challenges in the hiring process VIEW POST

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re: Just to clarify: by "scalable" I meant "applicable to a wider range of companies". While a lot of what you write sounds great, it is a very specifi...

Unfortunately, the classic career "You come as a junior and stay for the senior positions" seems to be outdated.

Agreed, and my approach has nothing to do with it. They leave us by design and move into a mid-level position elsewhere.

This poses two issues: it's hard to have employees stay with you.

It's a year long program. Our goal is for them to move on to paid positions at other firms; it's actually how we're structured.

And it is costly to fill positions. Especially in the higher roles, it sometimes takes up to a year to have the full output, as complex onboarding and in-depth understanding of code-base and processes are necessary. This makes "wrong decisions" often not immediately apparent.

The program is a year, but a number of interns have stayed on longer to keep working on the projects. So, I actually have observed the full output and the in-depth understanding. (Don't get hung up on "intern" — this program goes significantly deeper than standard internships.)

I think you're confusing my motivation and evidence of success. Just because I am hiring interns does not mean my approach is only applicable interns. I account for the lack of experience by deliberately going a lot easier on candidates than I (or anyone) would be. There are other companies that successfully use similar practices to what I describe.

You do have to be careful of confirmation bias. I'm reading "I don't think coding challenges work, therefore the fact they work for you must be an unusual circumstance."

As to myself, I can only speak to my own experience, and I can share that of the hiring managers (etc) I know...although you know neither of us could confirm or deny it second-hand.

So I assume both the academic institutions as well as the private sector have an interest in "funneling resources" through you in order to bridge the gap.

The private sector hardly knows I exist. I run the program for the sake of the students, to help them gain the all-important soft skills necessary to thrive in the coding field. The Career Services know this, which is why they work with me.

And if I am right with this assumption, it makes sense that your approach is vastly different.

Except it isn't all that different...based on talking to hiring managers, former interns who have gone on to other jobs, career services faculty, and my own experiences being a candidate. I've observed four types of companies:

  1. No screening.

  2. Traditional whiteboarding.

  3. Leetcoding screening. (The topic)

  4. What we do.

I'm reading "I don't think coding challenges work, therefore the fact they work for you must be an unusual circumstance."

No, apparently I haven't put that in the right context: I didn't refer to coding challenges when mentioning scepticism. I also don't think coding challenges aren't working in general, it's the code golfing challenges I have issues with.

The private sector hardly knows I exist. I run the program for the sake of the students,...

Well, that might be true, but I am looking at what you are saying from a different perspective. What I am hearing is: "students that ran through our program end up being very employable and capable". So from the perspective of companies, this translates to: "students vetted and 'formed' by MousePawMedia are low-risk, capable employees".

So maybe it makes sense for you to form relationships with the industry as well. You more or less offer a service that circumvents the very problem I am reporting here. And that service has a value you might be able to capitalize on without selling your ideals and while still fulfilling your main goals.

Ah, I understand now.

I still can't believe we're so unusual that our hiring practices couldn't possibly work elsewhere. I'm able to determine the skill level of applicants with the coding challenge, and that has proved accurate. It could be made more restrictive, or more tied to a particular language or domain, without taking additional time from either party.

In any case, 20 minutes of me (the hiring manager) reviewing the coding challenge gives me a fairly accurate snapshot of the applicant's present skill, and that always either saves me a final interview (2 hours saved) or advises the final interview, making it far more reliably insightful.

So from the perspective of companies, this translates to: "students vetted and 'formed' by MousePawMedia are low-risk, capable employees".

Ah, yes, that is indeed what I'm hoping our company represents to employers, especially in terms of the letters of recommendation we provide to program graduates. It's a win-win for our internship graduates and their future empoyers.

So maybe it makes sense for you to form relationships with the industry as well. You more or less offer a service that circumvents the very problem I am reporting here. And that service has a value you might be able to capitalize on without selling your ideals and while still fulfilling your main goals.

Ahh, I understand you now! Thank you for that. I would need like to form stronger connections between MousePaw Media and the industry.

That said, I'd still understand the need for vetting, such as how we do it, even for our own internship graduates applying elsewhere. Someone may be fluent in (say) C++ and algorithms, but that doesn't mean they're good at (say) API testing in Python. In my mind, half the beauty of a coding challenge such as I describe is "are you a good fit for this particular role?"

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