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Discussion on: Why you need to learn to write a sorting algorithm

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blindfish3 profile image
Ben Calder

I would look at it another way: if you're being asked to regurgitate CS basics in an interview, rather than how you might creatively solve real world problems, the work they have in mind for you is probably fairly dull; or they have a very poor interview process.

I have zero formal CS experience. I would definitely need to look up the theory of writing a sort algorithm; but in one interview I was told I was only the second person to completely solve their sample problem. From what I gathered they had a fair number of CS graduates apply...

I'd have absolutely no hesitation telling a prospective employer why their interview process is borked. If they're not receptive to constructive criticism I don't want to work for them...

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Joseph Crandal

Some times we get to be choosy about the environment we want and in those scenarios I agree that looking for those indicators is of high value.

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blindfish3 profile image
Ben Calder

You're right: not everyone gets to be choosy; but I don't think that means you have to learn sort algorithms (or all the other possible 'standard' problems you might be set) for the purpose of passing ill-conceived interviews; and I think that was the point of the article ;)

I wouldn't advocate refusing to do a task in an interview; but you could instead talk through the processes you'd follow in order to solve a problem: e.g. why would I need a bespoke sort here when I know there are plenty of built-in options? Is performance really going to be such an issue that the extra development time is justified? How will I test performance? How do I establish if the solution I found is the most appropriate? etc. That demonstrates thought processes that are going to be much more useful to an employer than the fact you memorised something that can easily be found online.