I had an onsite job interview for a software position at a German startup, which included brainstorming at the whiteboard on how to solve a problem. I should hear back in a few days.

The problem is quite challenging and I ended up writing some code to solve the problem they gave me, as I got some insight/ideas on how to proceed. I don't know how good or bad the solution I developed is, to be honest. I made a few tests and it works, in first approximation.

Is it bad policy to contact the startup CEO showing the results I got? Am I coming as arrogant or disrespectful (people probably spent quite some time on these issues..)? On the other hand, after their decision the value of the test code I wrote goes to zero. Any feedback is welcome.

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    There's the danger of making it look like you have nothing better to do or are desperate (even if your interest in the topic is genuine). – pmf Dec 5 '18 at 16:36
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    Was the problem you worked on, one created for the purpose of the interview (if so, they're unlikely to be interested in code you wrote later), or an actual problem they are genuinely struggling with at the moment (seems unlikely, but...)? – BittermanAndy Dec 5 '18 at 17:20
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    @pfm In my phd thesis I had similar problems, so I guess I feel a bit emotional on the topic ;) – albus_c Dec 5 '18 at 17:45
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    @BittermanAndy the latter: the problem is a real one. – albus_c Dec 5 '18 at 17:45

I would send the solution you have to them. I can't imagine doing so hurting your chances (unless your solution is pretty bad), and will likely help you for two reasons: 1) hopefully the solution shows that you are smart, and even more importantly, 2) shows that you are motivated.

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    Especially since the OP states in comments that 1) it is a real problem which the company is facing, and 2) that he had similar problems in his PHs thesis, which makes him sound like a good match for the company (possibly, subject matter expert), and because it sounds like he has a solution. I say go for it, send them your solution, to whomever interviewed you. Btw, OP, you ought to have mentioned both of these points in your question. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Dec 6 '18 at 8:18

To be honest, there are two things you should consider.

First: how well did you do during the white-boarding? Because if you did well, you should leave it as-is. Letting things be is a sort of low-risk option; doing a follow-up communication with the solution is a high-risk option. So if you did well in the white-board meeting, you probably shouldn't risk it; if you feel like you didn't do that well and could use some extra help, go ahead. Basically, try to weigh the odds of "I wasn't going to get the job but this put me to the forefront" versus "I was going to get the job but my follow-up was off-putting."

Second: how clean/readable/maintainable is your code? Keep in mind, if you're sending code to a potential employer, they're very likely going to ask themselves: "is this the sort of code I want our developers to be creating?" So if you do decide to send your code, make sure it's immaculate - descriptive variable names, excellent function/class names, smooth logic flow, etc.


You're assuming that the programming challenge you were given was (a) pertinent to the companies requirements, and (b) not already solved by their development team.

Personally, I wouldn't give a programming applicant a problem that I didn't already know the answer to. I would be looking at their approach to the problem, and seeing if they spotted any of the 'gotchas' associated with that problem. I want to see how they think; not necessarily if they can solve the entire problem in 30 minutes.

Sending a solution after the interview won't necessarily have any effect on the results of the interview; all decisions have probably already been made. My advice would be to just send a nice "Thank you" note to the interviewer, and maybe add a line or two saying that you derived a complete solution to their question (and mention one or two of the intriguing aspects, if it had any)

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