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Does one require actually writing code and the other just require talking intelligently about code? If so: I concede.

Writing code is trivial part of what I would expect from senior - making correct decisions about architecture and talking intelligently about code are less trivial parts that make difference between senior and junior. Ultimately, when senior cant write code, that can be found relatively quickly. When he fails at decisions it takes more time and causes more damage. When he cant talk about code, then he is suitable to some positions but not to many others (so it all depends on position at hand).

I don't mind interview having also part where code is written at all. Be it dummy feature or breadth/depth first search or fizzbuzz or any other simple reasonably sized assignment. But in case of senior as in partly decision maker with not much direct supervision in the long term, you need those other capabilities too.

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