Discussion on: The Engineering Interview is Broken

gearloosejones profile image
Gearloose Jones Author

Guilty as charged on occasionally never submitting on some rare occasions. In my case, it was always one of the following:

1) An offer from the HR/dev interviewing you to answer questions isn't honored
2) Time conflict with other take-home assessments. This is on both parties to keep in mind that a candidate may have several on his/her plate and one may have to be cut.
3) Related to #1: Incomplete or conflicting requirements and questions regarding it are either answered vaguely or not at all.
4) Sometimes things come up in life and you can't just dedicate the time when you otherwise thought you could.

In all cases where I have to stop, I strive to send an email. I'm only human and sometimes that doesn't happen and I apologize profusely when I realize that's happened because, well, good manners. :)

I think there's a definite blindspot here, and I'm on board with giving people options with how to proceed on demonstrating their skills. Take-home or live-coding? Code samples?

I realize there's, well, let's call it "sensitivity" to making sure a candidate isn't misrepresenting themselves, and code samples are a terrific way for people like that to cheat. But a good way to filter those people out is to have them simply explain their code. In detail. Ask how they'd improve it? Ask them to potentially re-factor it in ES6 if it's written a little more classically.

There are options, and I think it's only fair to present a few so a candidate can pick the one that really lets them show off. :)

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carteritrellis profile image
Carter Wickstrom

"[H]ave them simply explain their code. In detail. Ask how they'd improve it? Ask them to [...] re-factor[.]"

You've just described our interview process. :-)

We've definitely had candidates ask if they could submit an existing code sample instead of taking the test. In the handful of instances where we've agreed, those candidates have all crashed and burned. Hard. It's always a pet project that they've been working on for a while, it's never as good as the candidate thinks it is (even when it's good!), and they have a hard time looking critically at their baby.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Very similar to us. Key to our process behind the scenes is that everyone fills out evaluation forms independently and we're not allowed to talk to one another about anything until everyone has submitted. We then discuss things based on the various feedback surveys (which are done at each possible stage, so a few times per candidate).

This, we think, provides maximum unadulterated wisdom of the crowds, less group-think, and more containerization of possible biases.

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gearloosejones profile image
Gearloose Jones Author

Not being able to look critically at your own work is a huge red flag, just because that's a person who's going to get super defensive in even the most casual code review.

I used to be that person, but I learned to accept that every baby, even from the most seasoned programmers on the team, has warts. And it's even OK to admit that one or two projects in any given gig is Rosemary's Baby from head to toe. It happens. The test is simply to see if someone can admit it to a peer.