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I don't understand how there can be a good hacker that does not, at least on some intuitive level, get such basic data structures or algorithms. I don't mind if someone doesn't know what depth-first search is, but I should be able to explain it quickly and they should be able to come up with at least pseudo code. The relevance of this to software engineering roles just seems too great.

Cramming these questions online does not work. I don't know what Facebook/Google et al are doing but I can spot a candidate who studied interview questions from a mile away. They may bang out a DFS by rote but that's just warmup; they should be able to talk about details, deal with changing requirements, discuss the algorithm/efficiency/design of their solution, be able to talk about underlying data structure primitives, etc.

To be fair the grandparent was talking about a specialized position in security engineering for which the generic coding interviews could be a bad match.




>I don't understand how there can be a good hacker that does not, at least on some intuitive level, get such basic data structures or algorithms.

And I don't understand why someone who spends his time up to the eyes in crypto proofs, exploit code, and research articles should have to cram for an Algorithms 1 exam for each interview.

I've seen these questions used well (had a neat discussion with a start-up CEO in Boston once about reimplementing a toy Twitter in Scala), and really brilliantly (another start-up in Boston once asked me to describe my favorite algorithm and got a short, ad-hoc tutorial in lottery scheduling), and really, really badly (BigCos asking stuff you'd see on an undergrad-level exam from years and years ago).

Strangely enough, I'm praising the two startups that didn't offer me a job (though I'd really like to reapply to that second one), and condemning the BigCos (you know who I mean) that did offer me a job.


You're right it isn't well suited for security people.... But is it well suited for software engineering types? Most code people write is not a search sort insert etc. Most of the details of using these data structures are invisible in oop and the difference is only what class was instantiated.

I'm not saying it isn't important to know, but I think there are better indicators for someone who will perform well on the job


Sure, but these tests are necessary without being sufficient. I'd expect that performance in these tests is predictive up to a certain level but that being really good at them versus just performing decently is not nearly as predictive for actual job performance.




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