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Ask HN: Request for more takehomes over coding interviews
13 points by throwawayleet99 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments
Hey folks, I know it's often been discussed, but it would be really awesome if those of you running startups can give an option of take-homes over coding interview style questions. I know engineer and founder time is expensive, but some of us really just perform terribly under scrutiny due to anxiety problems. You might be missing some great people due to the format. These interview styles also bias for people who can quickly solve problems under a particular type of pressure, but not necessarily people who will do a good job once hired.

Personally I do my best work given time to focus, and not being watched. If there's an option for a slower paced take home, I do quite well as it lets me work in a familiar environment and think carefully not under pressure.

Anyway food for thought, do what you want to do, it's just a suggestion / plea for those of us who are awful at coding interviews (even with lots of practice on leetcode).

The downside of take home assessments is that anyone can do it. You could hand off the assignment to a friend, or even hire someone to do it. So figure 1 hour for the take home + 1 hour for an additional interview where we ask questions about the take home to make sure you actually know what you are doing.

At my job, we designed our interview process around the question: “what is the minimum coding exercise that we expect anyone we hire to be able to do?”

This has resulted in an interview where we do ~30 minutes of coding, stuff like: function to reverse a string, function to add an array of numbers, find the largest number in an array of integers.

From there the rest of the interview is conversational. If the candidate is frontend we may dive into X, Y, Z technology. For example, if someone has 5+ years of React experience but doesn’t know what a hook is, that’s a red flag, etc.

You’d be surprised how many people are absolute garbage at those simple coding questions, despite having years of experience. And everyone that cruises those questions has been a great hire thus far, assuming no other red flags like bad culture fit or poor communication etc.

You can outsource the task, but you can't outsource the discussion afterwards. I recently had to hire: shortlisted a couple of candidates and gave them a simple task that shout take 1-2h to complete. I also gave them more than a week to complete it. They could have outsourced it,but they'd struggle to walk me through the whole thing, because you start poking around to see how deep you can ask and it becomes pretty clear pretty soon where their limits are and why they did x over y and etc.

My take is that companies should offer a few different options:

* Take home

* Deep reference checks with former colleagues and managers

* Coding interview questions

* A work trial period

That way people can pick which one will best showcase their skills.

If I were hiring, I would use a test that mirrors the workplace. I would test firefighters when they were hot, sweaty, tired, hungry, and charged with adrenaline. I would test teachers while 5 kids were yelling at them. I would test programmers at a meeting. I would test accountants in a cubicle.

I love take homes. You can make them harder, and ask candidate explain the solution. The ones I've gotten seem like they suss out skills for real problem solving. Fizz buzz? ... Please ...

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