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"The vast majority of applicants cannot code at all. And I mean that literally: they're at a loss at how to write a function that adds two numbers or counts the number of elements in a list."

I'm genuinely curious how you manage to find all these folks. I've been on the interview team at my company for a several years now(mostly in house, some first pass phone screens) and I've never encountered a single person who was literally unable to code a trivial problem. The last time I met a "programmer" who couldn't code was first semester university, and I thought most of them quickly flunked out/changed majors. I wonder if there is something about your company/recruiting process that is particularly attractive to them, or if our prescreen(which I'm admittedly no expert on) is just particularly good at filtering them out, or if there's some other explanation.

I've performed close to 400 screening interviews now for a range of companies. There's a good chunk of people that struggle to write a solution that correctly compiled to an "aggregate this data" style problem. People with the "correct" CV that have made it through the HR filter. It's a real problem.

There are people who overestimate their ability. For example, I've worked with a very junior programmer (too junior for a good whiteboarding performance) who took extensive notes about everything, appeared to learn quickly, was probably convinced that he was learning, but performed poorly because he failed to think enough.

I saw him do SQL joins on the wrong column, cause accidents in source control, lose changes because he wasn't looking at the file and folder names on screen, and so on. Hard to realize for him, and hard to guess in an interview.

I've also been doing interviews for a few years at three different companies, and I've encountered it. It depends heavily on the quality of the recruiter. Good recruiters will attempt to filter out complete duds, bad recruiters will pack a clown car full of "rockstar candidates" that just wasted my time. There was one particularly bad instance where a guy with 10 years of experience and a masters degree got stuck for an hour trying to write a for loop. With unfettered access to Google.

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