The Problem with Interview Tests

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I have been using Hacker Rank for a month or so to get a feel for it. I know that some companies use it as part of their interview process so it seemed like a good idea to get familiar with it.

I like the site and think the problems are fair, challenging, and can help you to hone your development skills. That being said, a friend had me go through their version of the test they give as part of their interviewing process. I stunk at it. The problem was the timed nature of the process. When solving a Hacker Rank problem in the context of using the regular site, you can explore options, refine your code and algorithms, and have the opportunity to change directions if you start down the wrong path. In the timed interview, this just doesn’t work. I went down the wrong path on the first problem and never really recovered. It wasn’t that the problem was hard, I eventually solved it, it’s just that I thought I could do it using one data structure and then when that wasn’t working I switched to another. That just put added time pressure on the rest of the problems and I made a bad assumption on another problem that pretty much sunk the rest of my “interview.”

I understand, if not like, the need to look for a baseline of programming ability, but I feel that tests like these don’t mimic a work environment in a meaningful way that reflects any candidates ability to do the job.

What this and Developer Hegemony highlight to me is the very real need to make myself something other than a “corporate resource.”

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