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It’s not a meme. I just interviewed at FB (3 onsites) and the one interview that sunk me was a CS-algo question. I’ve never had to do that my entire career and I even though I got the answer in the end, I was told afterwards that my answer was too slow. The other tech interviews focused on real web dev experience I destroyed. Still got rejected even though I answered every question correctly, just not fast (or optimal?) enough. The recruiter said I was a “great culture fit” afterwards so that wasn’t the issue. You wouldn’t consider the question “trivia” because it was something you might do once or twice in an entire web dev career. But it’s still a question that will favor new grads who have been trained to pattern match algos and share questions amongst each other.

So even if there’s not explicit bias against older devs there is implicit bias by favoring quick whiteboard speed (memorization/practice) over the practiced thoughtfulness of older devs. And a one-off interview focused heavily on algos can sink anyone. It only takes one.

This isn’t limited to FB. The $Elite companies I got offers from are the ones where I lucked through that one tricky interview by knowing it offhand.

I worry as I get older, even as I become a stronger developer, I will become less and less able to marathon through these interviews. No wonder so many older devs switch to management.




I have no issue with the DS/A questions myself, but their use use and arbitrary nature of acceptance as right or wrong coupled with the ability of the interviewer's own bias to take it in whichever direction they desire is full of land mines. And I had never thought of ease with which the process could be undermined even if it where to be improved.


There's a world of difference between remember some bullshit trivia about how to do fast matrix multiplication, that requires some esoteric algorithmic or mathematical trick, and 'implement a data structure that does X'.

Yet, when blasting interviews, I have found that people tend to conflate the two.

I agree that 60 minutes on a whiteboard or a laptop is not the best way to ask someone to solve a coding problem. Homework is worse, though. Maybe 90 minutes is a better time slot.


There’s a middle ground between those two which usually ends up being the one tricky question—there’s only one right answer and the task is something non-straightforward. I find junior devs to be far more likely to ask this type of question.


How is homework worse? Homework simulates an actual job assignment. There's no better way to gauge a candidate's ability. You still couple with onsite after, of course.


It's an asymmetrical waste of time. The company invests nothing into it, the candidate invests 8-16 hours into it. This creates incentive to interview too many people, causing candidates to have to interview at too many places, wasting even more of their time.

At least in-person, both parties invest about as much time into the interview.


I interviewed somewhere recently, it went well, we talked about current technology, talked about the projects I'm working on now, and then they sent me an email asking me to do a project that would take me two days. I have a two year old and a job I'm perfectly happy with right now, I'm not going to spend my precious weekend hours writing code for free (unless maybe it was open source or something like that).


Are y'all trying to say that an 8-16 hour homework assignment is too much to bear for a new job? You're happy in your current job...great. But 8 hours for a $10-$30K salary bump? I mean, worth it from a pure monetary standpoint, even if it takes several attempts to attain one of those jobs.


The article is about age discrimination and my comment pointed out that older developers may value their “off time” more, which biases take home tests against those older devs.


Valuing your off time is great when you've got a steady job that you're happy with. If you're looking for a new job, because you're unemployed or because you're unhappy with your current job, you have to invest your off time into that. Just like, in college I had to invest my off time into studying so I could get good grades...Older folks that have kids and stuff may have less off time, sure, but that's the way things go.


So you’re admitting that older people are disadvantaged by these types of assignments that are not actually selective for coding capability, but throwing up your hands and saying that’s just the way life is?


Yeah, I mean, folks with kids are at a professional disadvantage to folks without kids...that's pretty well established. Kids bring all sorts of other great benefits to life. But extra time is not one of them. And folks who choose to spend their off time doing other activities rather than leveling up their skills or applying to better jobs are going to remain that way.


I've found that companies that are serious about this will offer some form of compensation (gift card, etc)


They shouldn't have to compensate you for a trivial exercise to prove your ability. This isn't production-code type of problem, these are usually toy problems just designed to show you can code and you care about quality.


Something that takes more than a couple hours is no longer trivial.


Once, after submitting take home assignment, my application was rejected because the project didn't comply exactly with their requirements. The project they paid for exactly zero. That was truly infuriating experience.


I've done it in the past where there's a prescreen phone interview, a homework assignment, then a non-coding exercise interview and it works pretty well.




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