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If you are ever asked an interview question which you've already answered in a previous interview, you should tell the interviewer immediately.

I know some coworkers who will intentionally ask a question they know you were asked in a previous interview to test your integrity. (Edit: Not that I would condone this practice either.)

These types of interview questions are about evaluating how you think far more than what you know. So, more importantly than the risk of getting caught, if you recite an answer from memory and pretend that you're deriving the solution on the fly, you're lying to your future coworker.




I couldn't disagree more.

Where do you draw the line? What if you'd spent the previous two days reading about graph theory and in doing so had come across a neat network flow problem that co es up almost verbatim in the interview? What's the difference?

Interviews are a filter and not necessarily always accurate or fair. This can go both ways. You can have bad days when your brain freezes. You can have good days when you're asked something you know in your sleep. It doesn't really matter how you know it.

Besides just knowing the solution to something doesn't mean you can give the answer, discuss the solution and analyze other solutions, all of which may come up.


And somehow setting up a "trap" for a future colleague to walk right in to shows great "integrity".


How much are you ever deriving on the fly when answering programming questions? You aren't goint to reinvent computer science on the spot, you're going to apply the vast knowledge and experience you hopefully have. The problem in the story is so basic that I would assume anyone who got it right had run into a similar problem before.


A friend of mine interviewed at Microsoft sometime in the mid-90s. They offered him a job, but he declined it. They interviewed him again a few years later, and one of the questions had come up in his previous interview. He said "in fairness I have to disclose that I was asked this in my last interview -- and they must have liked my answer because they offered me the job." For some reason the interviewer was so flustered that the rest of the questions were all softballs :-)

Your mileage may vary.


> If you are ever asked an interview question which you've already answered in a previous interview, you should tell the interviewer immediately.

That's sort of like saying you won't shot a man in the back during a war.


Quite similar to the recently-discussed http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1922243 - where hundreds of students received a test they had already obtained from their textbook publisher.

No one came forward - the professor only figured it out after he saw the average mark on the test was one-and-a-half grades higher than normal.


This is right. In my experience, when you tell interviewers that you already know the answer to their favorite interview question (and can explain the answer) they are just as impressed as if you had solved it yourself, and you don't feel like you've deceived them.


In two interviews with G, separated by 5 years, the same 'hard' programming problem came up both times. I answered it badly the first time, then did a bit if research after that interview, and was fully ready to expound on it in the later one. It would be really embarrassing to get tripped up on the same question twice.


If you're future co-worker has on leather pants and is asking questions like that, all bets are off...


There is a limit to how open employee should be. Google actually wants employees to keep things to themselves and not to talk about internal stuff to outside world. 100% honesty would make prospective candidate leak internal Google stuff to the outside world. So it's unlikely that interviewers would set up "integrity traps".


100% honesty would make prospective candidate leak internal Google stuff to the outside world.

That doesn't make any sense.

open != honest. Two different things. It's not dishonest to obey a Non Disclosure Agreement, and so you can be perfectly honest person and still not be "open" about matters which you are not authorized to reveal.


You forgot about context of my comment. I used "100% honesty" in the sense of "never lie and AND be open". Please re-read original context: "If you are ever asked an interview question which you've already answered in a previous interview, you should tell the interviewer immediately."

"Not talking about your past interview experience" has about the level of openness as "not talking about your corporate experience".




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