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When I interview candidates for the company I work for I describe a key part of our system in general terms (20 possible elements, at least one active but any combination, items are single/set/hierarchy) then ask them to talk me through issues they can see writing generic code to handle data management and computations given these conditions. They don't have to write code, but they do have to be able to think logically and express themselves clearly. Some describe pretty much what we do, some get creative, and some are completely at a loss. Some pseudocode to help describe what they're thinking, most don't.

Even if their "solution" is incomplete I look at if they get the gist right.

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