"You Smell Purty . . ."

"It's not a Test, We Just Want to See how You Work" and Other Interview Knavery

by Hemiac Plurge on Saturday, April 8, 2017

Job Interview Coding Questions: Fun in Any Other Context

I decided to try some of those coding dojo type sites to improve my interview skills (since I was/am not a math guy). It's nice that people seem to be using the "team coding with one of our in-house people to see how you think (not a test, ha ha)" thing more.

I've had several ghastly experiences with stupid automated code-tests. Tests like: "create a linked list in Python".

Okay. No. I mean, here it is:

("foo", ("bar", ("bat", None)))

# I know, singly linked and all that . . .

. . . but fucking no. If I had a boss tell me to do that with any scripting language, I'd ask them seriously why we didn't write the thing in C if performance was such a problem.

This steaming pile of bletcherosity has led me to stop accepting interviews if the coding tests aren't administered by a human. If you can't spare an old programmer's time to vet newbies, then you are doing it wrong. I'm not going to help you do it wrong. You are hiring me to do things right, right? Right.

Oh, and if the superlative "Rock Star" appears anywhere in your job description, I'm showing up in leather pants with coke snot caked on my upper lip.

Anyway, I've tried a couple so far:


I really like hackerrank. They do all the magic square evaluation and "sum the highest count of integers + highest count of an adjacent integer in an array" sort of thing that are probably super-easy for someone with formal CS training, but serve as really productive brain-pain for us lapsed English majors.

So far, several of the testlets have required one to solve problems that are trivial for a human to eyeball, but are less straightforward to code. This sort of problem is valuable beyond prepping one for an interview and reminds me just how much of my day is CRUD and lookup table doodling, rather than actual thinkin'.


One short look at codewars' "Prove yourself by solving some obfuscation-based E.T. mini-game using opaque debug messages before we'll let you join" portal page . . . The "NOOOOOPES!" manifested like herpes in a bible college.

Kindly proceed to the gamification of my balls please, you pie-eating, riddle-fappers. Life is entirely too short.

Others Worth a Look?

Hit me up on twitter, I'll add them to the list.