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If you want to test for the ability to gather requirements and clarifications from vague requests, then test for it directly, don't bake it in as a hidden test you expect people to account for when the overt problem is just implementing a comparatively crystal clear toy question even if you say things like "number" instead of "positive integer". Assuming they can implement anything that seems to work at all (which is your main goal, right? or why ask it?) you could turn your prior vagueness into an opportunity to see if they can formulate test cases and refactor their approach to account for different inputs, if needed, or if you see them accounting for them as they go you can ask e.g. "why are you taking the absolute value?" and see if they're thinking about the input order or if they're just doing it because that's what they saw somewhere.



Yeah, I think the important thing is that the candidate should not have to "read the interviewer's mind" when it comes to what style of question is being asked.

Unfortunately, this can also occur because the interviewer isn't clear on their own goals in the first place. They asked the question before really knowing what data points they want to come away with.




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