I applied for this job and was given an interview. The HR person told me I would be working on the problem in Eclipse and that any object-oriented programming language would be compatible. I asked her if I could use Python and she said that was fine.

I had been preparing for the interview in python and was looking over the python syntax. However, when I got there, (she gave me a laptop to work on) they pulled up eclipse and the project was set up in Java. She said, "You can use any programming language you want" to solve the problem.

The problem was set up in the format where all the code was written for you and you just had to write a function. I had no idea how I would convert everything to python. She basically left the room for 30 minutes (the time I was given to do the problems) and I just said, "screw it, I'll solve it in Java".

I didn't do the best on it. I did end up telling her the situation after the test. She has no programming experience so she could not tell me how I was supposed to convert it. But she said (and confirmed with her coworkers) she's had other interviewees do the problem in python and c# and what not and they've done fine.

I realize I probably should have said something at the beginning of the interview. I also just want to know if I am actually the one in the wrong. Maybe there really is a way to easily convert the project to python.

I still consider myself to be pretty young in my programming career so maybe I am missing something. Am I the one in the wrong or is she the one in the wrong or are we both responsible? Any advice?

  • 4
    I wouldn't say "in the wrong" - they don't owe you anything. Learn from this and move on. If you had concerns at the start of the interview you should have mentioned it. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 22:32
  • What was the language advertised in the position?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 23:06
  • 1
    Your not in the wrong, and it might have been that you simply didn't clarify that you wanted to solve the problem in python (hence the java version they gave you). It all looks the same to a non technical person so the HR person wouldn't be able to help. You can always ask them if they would be willing to provide you a copy of the test in Python or a solution to the test, just don't expect them to give it to you (because they might not want to leak it).
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 23:06
  • @Mark The job description did mention Java but they said I could do the problem in any programming language (before the interview).
    – user99602
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 23:10
  • 2
    Then I would expect the test ti be in the language they mention in the jo requirements. They will want to know that you can use it. NB HR might have no idea of the difference in languages. I would have expected the technical people to supervise the test and they would have probably said no must use Java. If I was setting the test I would e asking you as you went along way you were doing certain things
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


In general, if you have instructions and you aren't sure how best to follow them, you should try to clarify with the person who gave them to you right away. If they still can't help you understand, you probably just have to do the best you can and hope for the best. The worst that happens is that you don't get the job, and that could happen for plenty of other reasons.

In your particular case, I'm guessing they just made one version of the test in the language the person writing it understands, and hopefully the functions they are asking you to write have simple enough input and output types that it's easy to write them in another language and conceptually understand how they work, even if they wouldn't necessarily be usable. If that's not the case and writing it in another language would really be difficult or impossible (e.g. if it were using objects that don't have 1-1 corollaries in other OO languages), you may want to consider whether you dodged a bullet - if the guy who made it, who has a good chance of being your manager, can't even put together a coherent test, imagine how bad his instructions will be.

So to answer your question - it's hard to say who is in the wrong with just your side of the story, but you shouldn't dwell too much on that - take away what you know you should have done differently (ask right away), and move on.

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