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Discussion on: I failed an interview because of an algorithm

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warichter1 profile image
warichter1

As someone who has bounced around the tech industry for decades and has sat on both sides on the interview table, I would say don’t worry about it. If I am in on an interview team and someone misses something, I will drill down to see if this is a lapse or a lack of knowledge. I really don’t care if you know what a bucket sort is. I do want to see you walk through a problem logically and explain to me how you would solve. Do I want you to write out the code, forget it.

I’ve written code in more languages than I can count, I’ve managed programming teams and have done far different. Managed a help desk, repaired hardware, have done systems administration. I currently have an informal advising role in my organization’s Python User’s group. Python is in the minority but we still gave over 200 members. With 7-8 years of python experience, I’m one of the more advanced engineers.

With that after decades in one sector, decided in a change. Hadn’t seriously sat for interviews for a while but skills come back. Got into a company known for their difficult interviews but not a good fit. After a few months, decided this wasn’t for me, too many hours and a manager that couldn’t decide what he wanted.

Before I restarted, I though hard about what I wanted. Then I started interviewing. The worst were the interviews that required coding exercises or knowing some obscure algorithm. With a bunch of languages bouncing around in my head, hard to keep track. This is what google is for and I explained this. Wishing them luck on their search, on to the next.

Then got a call from a nonprofit, largest in their sector with almost 20,employees. Set up a couple phone interviews and then an on-site with my managers and 2 senior managers. Very relaxed, asked what my expectations were, I mentioned no insane hours, they laughed.

This was a fit interview, I passed. In many cases sitting on both sides, you will find that the most technically brilliant candidate can be passed over for someone with no where near the knowledge. The last thing a team wants is a bunch of geniuses who can’t get anything done for debating over the best coding style or algorithm. I am a stickler for well written code and logical structure but I don’t need a debate about why I should write a project in Java instead of Python. I might just write in Bash to irritate you. If I interviewed you, might wash you out in the process. All about the fit.