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I find that > 90% of interviews to be the latter, unfortunately. The ones where I got the job were the former! I am stronger at concepts than memory.



The worst is when you have to go through one of those interviews with some smug hoser across from you whose face is contorted into a rictus grin because you couldn't recall, immediately from memory, some obscure Junior Year Computer Science thing. It's just amazing how bad the hiring situation is - It makes me a lot less likely to look around because I just don't want to go through that.


Yet the number of interviewees with a CS degree that can't even explain a basic algorithm, like traversing linked lists or binary search, is staggering.


It's amazing how the brain can totally blank in stressful situations.


Eh I doubt that explains it. In my experience, the response is shock. Not "oh hmm well, lemme think". It's " I've never written that code since school! That's a terrible thing to ask! Why would I ever write that? "

Also, for trivial algorithms and data structures, mind blanking is a potentially bad sign. Like, if you cannot explain the idea of garbage collection (not necessarily implementation details), then I gotta question your understanding of your environment.


I am reasonably experienced programmer who has delivered numerous web applications and websites. I could not explain to you how a linked list or binary tree worked - although I am sure I could look them up on google and understand the concepts given 30 minutes.


"Experienced programmers" who don't understand linked lists and binary trees without looking them up are strong no hires anywhere I have worked in the last three decades. Please stop writing software until this isn't a problem.

* edit: please stop asking people to pay you to write software. Keep writing software on your own until such elementary ideas such as linked lists and binary trees are core to your understanding, then apply again.


I have yet to encounter a situation in my career that called for a binary tree. I use general trees and graphs all the time, but never any of the specialized forms.

Maybe the problems your companies have worked on did. That's fine. Don't go telling people to "stop asking people to pay you to write software" just because they don't know how to use or write a binary tree, though.

I agree with you that I wouldn't hire someone who doesn't understand linked lists, but I still think your statement is too harsh for that situation as well.


Worth having some equivalent questions of your own.

"Good question, while I think about that, can I give you an interesting brain-teaser from my last interview?"

Figuring out if the tech lead who'll manage you is a jerk is a major task in being interviewed.


This of course goes both ways. If you put on your resume that you have expert/mastery level experience in technology X, don't be surprised if I drill you on it.


Because a good percentage of those experts then surprise interviewers by not having even a basic level of understanding of the subject. Usually those resumes were 'edited' by an agency trying to get their 20%.


Hey, you have no right to complain about my rictus grin. I even let you grab a free snack from the snack bar on your way out.




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