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How about a "transferrable" coding interview question?

miccheng profile image Michael Cheng ・2 min read

Thinking about coding interview questions or take home assignments. We all come up with our own that we use to evaluate all our candidates. And it's a great tool for figuring out a candidate's capability to deliver working software.

Then I came across my friend's Tweet:

I know of many job seekers who hunker down over weekends to do multiple coding assignments with fixed deadlines. Perhaps we are expecting too much or going overboard with our interview questions.

Culture Fit Interviews

Other than take home assignments, we also do live coding interviews to further evaluate a candidate's culture fit - how do they handle stressful situations, how do they troubleshoot a problem, can the candidate communicate well or articulate the technical decisions they make. These are good for gauging whether a candidate could be a suitable co-worker. So the culture aspect is quite specific to your company culture and what you look out for in a suitable candidate.

What i'm curious to know is if there can be a set of coding assignments that candidates can use to show that they know their shit. Not as formal as a certification, but more of a do you have a baseline competency for the role we are looking for.

How about online coding puzzle sites?

Sure, we can use HackerRank or something similar for this as a shared reference point for the candidate's capabilities. But those coding problems tend to incentivise a certain kind of behaviour. Coding for performance in a coding puzzle is not the same as writing well designed & maintainable code.

Make it transferrable?

Perhaps we should let candidates who don't make our cut to just bring their coding assessment to show the next company? I mean, you can say its your company's intellectual property... and it might encourage plagiarism... or give future candidates an unfair advantage if they know your coding test.

However, the flip side is this might actually accelerate the interview process. If the candidate is good, they wouldn't just copy pasta, they would do something properly (depending on the type of company you are in, copy pasta may or may not be a good thing).

No dramas...

Also, this may also ease the stress level of newbie coders who are bogged down with so many coding interview assignments from the companies they interview at.

What do you think?

Discussion (2)

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Ben Sinclair

I think it's generally unfair to get a candidate to do a technical test early in the process. After a first interview, maybe, but to be honest there's often not much benefit in a do-it-at-home test.

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Michael Cheng Author

For our team, we send a coding puzzle (eg. HackerRank) as a way of figuring out if they meet the baseline of “I know how to code” and “I know how to logic”. This first pass does have a low signal to noise ratio. But it does help us in filtering the large volume of incoming resumes.