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The vast majority of applicants cannot code at all. And I mean that literally.

No, you mean that hyperbolically.

Not only does it simply not happen that "the vast majority of applications cannot code at all" -- this literally has never happened at all, in my experience.

What does happen is that you get a range of people on a spectrum. And yeah, a fair number of them can't code very well. They're slow, they don't see smart solutions, whatever - or are just plain sloppy. But that's quite different from "not being able to code at all."

As to those people who (supposedly) can't "write a function that adds two numbers or counts the number of elements in a list" -- most likely they're simply freezing up from the anxiety of being whiteboarded by a perfect stranger for the first time in a great while - or perhaps ever. (In fact that's exactly what happened to me, on my very first on-site interview after college).

Or that is to say: they haven't internalized -- and produced defenses for -- the (intentionally) awkward and humiliating ritual of the modern tech interview process.

And again, you should only be actually seeing these people once in a blue moon. Unless the people running your incoming "pipeline" are utterly incompetent, and are constantly feeding you a stream of unqualified candidates. In which case your companies much bigger problem a lack of engineers who are able to "ace" HackerRank problems in 59 minutes or less.[1]

[1] Which, lest be honest now -- basically can only happen after extensive time spent on practicing these problems in advance. Or that is, by blatantly gaming your hiring "filter".

And one more thing:

How, you ask? By ... dodging responsibility.

No - their jobs just have different metrics for "responsibility" than yours. That's just the way many businesses are run, whether you like it or not.

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