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Igor Bykov
Igor Bykov

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The most complex challenge of your career

Hey fellows!

You know, when you do interviews, people sometimes ask you things like:

What's the most complex technical challenge you've ever solved?

I think, I even read it somewhere that Elon Musk asks this during interviews as well.

Now, I'm not about to apply to Tesla (don't think they've plugged TypeScript into that fancy display, did they?), but I never had a clear idea what to answer to that question!

Please, showcase your examples. Strike me with them, if you wish!

Discussion (11)

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff

I've been thinking about this, and there's nothing that comes to mind as the most complex, as Martin says in another comment, there are no real complex problems (mostly, depending on the type of development you do)

But if I had to say something it would be making sure new projects have solid architecture and are future proof (as much as they can). I have not had an official education, I'm self taught, so learning about architecture and so on has been quite tricky and has taken a lot of time, crappy projects and many many headaches. But after more than half a decade building stuff you start to get the gist of it. It's still a challenge though...

Apart from that I would say it's working with blockchain and decentralized systems. I can't wrap my head around them, I find them weird and overly complex. It might be because I find them almost useless and a waste of time, so I havent invested time on learning more about it.

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igor_bykov profile image
Igor Bykov Author • Edited on

I think, that architecture thing actually points to the right track.

They tend to put the question exactly this way, they don't ask about "difficult" or "hard-to-solve" problems, they ask about "complex", which, by definition refers to a thing made of many layers.

So, I believe, if you start talking about systems architecture that would count as a good answer, because it ends up being truly multi-layer quite frequently.

It's a little harder for the frontend-only case though, however, quite recently I've discovered that building internal projects within a monorepo setup, for instance, might end up being pretty complex as well even in case of small projects.

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mmuller88 profile image
Martin Muller • Edited on

More or less. Architecture can / will change over time. Some interesting topics around that when use a search engine: evolutionaire architecture. I indeed prefer bottom up architecture.

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mmuller88 profile image
Martin Muller

True but I am believer of the blockchain and decentralised. There are good use cases. Is just such a shame that so many bad people are taking advantage and robbing from good people which then become more pessimist-ish :(.

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff

I too was a believer, but have been quite demotivated for a while. I work on a daily on a blockchain/decentralized project at work, which is quite usefull and a really good use case. The reason, no speculation. Can't sell them coins, just spend them on you local area, which is a really nice solution. Promotes buying stuff localy. And you know that if you buy the coins, you will only be able to spend them, not speculate with them.

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mmuller88 profile image
Martin Muller

Haha there are no real complex problems as you can break them down in smaller less complex problems. Divide and conquer en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divide-and-c... . That would be my kind of funny answer.

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igor_bykov profile image
Igor Bykov Author

You see, that's exactly the part I was tricked by as well!

Apart from that, once you have your head wrapped around something, in that very moment, the problem that you had stops to be "complex".
At the best, it starts to be "compound" or "non-obvious", but not complex

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mmuller88 profile image
Martin Muller • Edited on

agree. So my answer is a good one.

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mnoumanshahzad profile image
Muhammad Nouman Shahzad

IMO this is one of those open ended questions in an interview, where multiple dimensions are being explored.

Elon talks about, and himself uses the First Principles Thinking, which IMO is what is being explored with such questions.

Any answer to the question gives a good insight into what kind of environment have you been working at, what challenges were you exposed to in your previous roles and how rich is your past experience.

Dimensions and leading conversations that the initial question opens up

  • How do you perceive complexity?
  • How do you make it less complex?
  • How do you solve a complex problem?
  • How do you collaborate over a complex problem?
  • How do you learn from a complex problem and use those learnings in future?
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mnoumanshahzad profile image
Muhammad Nouman Shahzad

I think this post from Thiago Ghisi about engineering levels and the impact/influce at each level gives a nice perspective on how different people are exposed to different levels of complexity and what expectations can be associated with them

linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:ac...

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Anything blockchain related because its an area that I have had very little exposure to.