Interviewing


Tag: Interviewing Tips

Title: On doing take-home technical coding challenges as part of an interview process

Let me tell a fable about how I applied to the company N***. Let the name be redacted. The recruiter reached out to me via email, he found my profile on Stack Overflow. I have been actively looking for a full-time position. He said he is working on scheduling for me to tal to a VP of engineering, and meanwhile sent me a link to a technical challenge, inviting me to take it.

I spent 2 hours on the challenge and passed.

The recruiter said he’ll schedule the talk with VP for Thursday, and meanwhile wanted to talk with me himself, on Tuesday. Come Tuesday, I have to remind him to call me, after he was 15 minutes late. He rushly calls me and says that he was “just testing how much I’m paying attention” and that simultaneously “power went out” in the office and he was unable to call me. After that he asks me to talk about myself and my background. This is a red flag: if the person you’re talking with asks such a generic question, that means they don’t know or remember who you are, and you are a statistic rather than a man for them. I ask him if he’s read my resume, and he says oh yes! He remembers now, I’m the candidate with a degree from University of Michigan. The recruiter says he was reluctant, almost didn’t want to message me, because he himself went to Ohio state, with which apparently I’m supposed to have a rivalry. After that, believe it or not, the conversation degraded to such a point that there was no next step. Why? Because of the recruiter’s perceived rivalry with my school in college sports.

One of the elements of the interviewing process is the evaluation of how cohesive the team would be, with the addition of a new team member. In this particular case, I didn’t even get to talk to any team members. Upon hire, the candidate will spend no time with the recruiter, therefore there isn’t a question of cohesiveness between the candidate and the recruiter. There is, however, the very material possibility of raising a red flag: either by the candidate, or by the recruiter.

And in my application to company N***, I additionally wasted 2 hours of my time, successfully solving a technical challenge that was irrelevant. People are more important than technology, and talking to people is sometimes less tiring than doing technical work. A show-stopper in human aspect has higher priority than a show-stopper in technical aspect. For this reason, going forward, I have the requirement of talking to people before undertaking any technical challenges.

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