Fixing the coding part of interviews

How we got here

How we actually code

  • knowledge and learning potential
  • adaptability to new situations, even if it takes a minute
  • working well with others, including critiquing and improving each others’ work
  • finding and explaining the root cause of problems
  • coming up with solutions for problems
  • explaining why something is or is not a good solution in context

The Solution: Other People’s Code

  1. You are given a short block of code in your preferred language, and a series of tests for it.
  2. Some of the tests are failing. There is also a note from the code’s author, who is on vacation this week, sorry.
  3. I ask you to talk through the code and explain what you see, including why the tests are failing.
  4. I ask you to talk through solutions for making the code behave correctly and the tests pass. This might be improvements to the code, fixing the tests, dusting off and nuking from orbit, whatever.
  • Can they understand the code? Can they explain it to me? Do they understand what parts are important and what parts are boilerplate? Do they make use of all available info (e.g.: code, comments, API documentation, etc., etc.)
  • Can they see the flaws? How quickly do they find them, and what methods do they use to find them?
  • Can they explain the behavior in human terms, and hypothesize what’s causing any problems?
  • Can they come up with plausible solutions, and explain to me why those solutions are appropriate?
  • Can they critique code in a way that will make the original coder comfortable enough to accept the input and improve the work?

Summary

Footnotes

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Obligate infovore. All posts made with 100% recycled electrons, sustainably crafted by artisanal artisans. He/him/his.

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Alex Feinman

Alex Feinman

Obligate infovore. All posts made with 100% recycled electrons, sustainably crafted by artisanal artisans. He/him/his.

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