Programming interviews – observations, tips

For the past 2+ years, I’ve interviewed more than 150 people for different Java positions, from junior to senior+ levels. During these technical discussions, I’ve observed a number of strange patterns repeating over and over again. Some of these are really counter-intuitive, maybe I’ll be talking about these in a different post.

All these interviews were really, really different, but one thing is constant: people get scared once they have to solve a programming puzzle at the whiteboard. I remember how I hated these kinds of tests when I applied to my current company. My reaction was not any different from most of the candidates’ I talk with. The whole thing went like this: I told the interviewer how I hated these exercises, I mentioned how the problems were not realistic and finally, at the end of the exercise I complained about how I missed good old JUnit. As I mentioned, nowadays’ candidates are not very different and I usually understand them. I really thought the puzzle part had to be done to torture people, who already happen to be freaked out as hell, with their pulse above 180, and can’t even stop sweating.

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