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Discussion on: Coding Tests Eliminate Some of the Best Candidates

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xealgo profile image
Jason Welch

Really good read Adam! I've been coding since I was 13 (now 34) and have worked professionally since I was 20. Even so, I struggle with live coding tests, often due to the time restrictions as well as ambiguity in the questions / instructions. I was turned away from Twitch a few years back after completing every other task but failing to get the regex correct because their validation rules were written so poorly. It was super frustrating. I also failed a Google interview because the interviewer decided it was lunch time during our interview and couldn't be bothered with questions. Whiteboarding has always been where I've shined, but even then it can be loaded due to biases. Take home tests can be fun, but now that I have two children, on top of my full time job and all of the other responsibilities in an adults life, the time it takes due to unrealistic expectations, is just too daunting. I'm finding that I'm pretty much ignoring every new opportunity that comes up, simply because the interview process (especially coding aspects) tend to be time consuming, anxiety inducing and irritating. Interviewers seem to search for any flaw as to reject you as quickly as possible as they have another 300 candidates to weed through. I'm super glad to have read this post because at least I know I'm not alone in my interview struggles.

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis Author

Yep... nodding my head to every one of your points.

I tend to take a rather fatalistic approach to most job interviews now. Before I do the interview (meaning: the full interviews, where you're doing some kinda live coding, or at least being grilled in real-time by their devs), I honestly have NO expectations whatsoever as to whether I'll actually do well or not. It's not that I lack confidence in my own skills. I most certainly do not. But I really feel that whether I do "well" has soooo little to do with my actual skills, and soooo much to do with random factors over which I have no control. Often, it feels to me like their assessment of my skills has little real correlation with my actual skills.

The last time I was interviewing, a company decided not to offer me a job because they "just didn't think that my React skills were strong enough". Now, I'm not claiming that I'm any kinda "React savant". But I've been coding for more than 20 years - and right now, React is probably my strongest skill. It wasn't that I was annoyed to miss out on the job. That stuff happens, regardless. But I was mildly irked to think that the disqualifying factor was my putative lack of React knowledge. Whatever...

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xealgo profile image
Jason Welch

I would be willing to bet it had nothing to do with your knowledge in React but probably more about something stupid like you didn't use a certain library they like or maybe you didn't do things 100% in the latest cutting edge React way. It's all nonsensical. As you said, there are far too many factors in which you couldn't possibly prepare for or do anything about. An interviewer could simply be in a bad mood that day, or maybe they don't like your shirt, who knows. It's really not worth even caring about.

I know for sure I've utterly failed code tests before, like when asked to solve a graph problem in 15 minutes back when I had very little knowledge of graph algorithms.. but still, a lack of knowledge does not mean a lack of motivation, a lack of intelligence or a lack of skill. I've failed to get hired at companies where I have friends working who have told me that I'm a better developer than a lot of their coworkers, but because I simply was lacking in a certain area, I was dismissed without a second thought. It's easy to sound like a poor loser, but the reality is, not everyone knows everything and I think sometimes it boils down to luck more than qualification.