The companies nowadays use HackerRank/LeetCode style questions as a major part of their interviewing process (whether is's good or bad is for another discussion). Let's call it a day.

I am not an algo-expert and I am not interested to become one just for sake of cracking these interviews. Don't get me wrong: I am interested in problem-solving, but with a preference to real use-cases and interesting (configure Kafka consumers/producers, design REST/DB, logging, unit-tests...)

I eventually became interested in getting some certifications with a hope I can skip these (in case the interview process is flexible - luckily, the most of I have went through were).

I am a holder of some Oracle certifications, so I realized, there are basically two types of certifications (in both cases one has to pass an exam to get the certification):

  • Paid (Oracle, Pivotal, Microsoft, ISTQB...)
  • Free (Hackerrank)

I try my best to keep both my CV and LinkedIn profile up to date and I include the Oracle certifications.

Q: How relevant are the free-to-get certifications, like HackerRank, for the interviewing process and can it help me to skip these annoying HackerRank/LeetCode style questions or replace with more relevant to the job (desing the API, debug/fix/improve something...)?

  • My hope is these can help me to lead to a more focused interviewing process (again, if flexible).
  • My fear is that these are really easy and free to get. I find no reason to do, but one can also copy-paste the solution from Google, so what is the point of these certifications at all?. They might look rather shameful on my CV/LinkedIn as long as the one who hires can also realize that (this becomes more valid with a higher number of these certifications).

I have skimmed through Is it beneficial to show online certificates on a CV? but it doesn't answer my question as long as it not tied with the interviewing process itself and the style of questions usually asked.

  • I played with HackerRank more than I care to admit. The certifications they offer will not excite any company that you want to hire on at. If you want a certification that will attract people, look at the "nice to have" certifications in job posts, which are always more difficult to get than HackerRank, etc. Project Euler teaches some really great mathematics, and maybe you can learn something from HackerRank too; but, none of these items are hiring points. If it's not on a top-10 list of highest paid ceritifications, it won't change the hiring decision by a measureable amount. – Edwin Buck Oct 23 at 0:35

I am interested in problem-solving, but with a preference to real use-cases and interesting (configure Kafka, design REST/DB...)

Then it's useless. I conducted over 200 interviews, where these types of algo questions are asked. Someone having one of those sites' cert? A big meh. If you are interested in discussing the finer details of an algorithm, challenge my question and throw me an even more difficult problem, sure I'd hire you. You would have used hackerrank and others such sites to grow, learn, because you enjoy it.

But if you can just pass it and your interests lay elsewhere? I'd suggest another team hire you, and they wouldn't care at all about such certs. Rather, they'd see past Kafka projects as much more useful.

So, my 2c: if hackerrank is enjoyable for you and you like spending nights on project Euler, do it because it's fun. Otherwise, don't bother, but it won't really play against you anyways.

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  • That's a very pragmatic answer, thank you for that! I've blindly associated these courses/problems/certs with the impact to the interview process only. Whether I enjoy it or not is a valid point (though, the certification on the LinkedIn profile cannot say it's there because I want to "shine" or I just enjoy that). Well, the conclusion is HackerRank certs won't help me to skip HackerRank questions even I would do because of joy, right? Do I assume correcly StackOverflow and GitHub profile might possible to have the opposite effect? – Nikolas Charalambidis Oct 21 at 15:01
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    StackOverflow profile I never looked at when interviewing. Bias potential is too high. I mean people here can be pretty harsh and candid. Some like functional programming, others swear by templates, some still use new in C++. You don't want the interviewer to go check all those details. Github is absolutely useful when hiring. Especially if you contribute regularly to open source projects. Or even if you have a small project that is simple, well documented, easy to try. I'd see much more value there. – Jeffrey Oct 21 at 15:24

It sounds to me like you're looking for the wrong jobs. You're not a software engineer, you're a DevOps specialist. You're applying for software engineer jobs, and then you don't like the interview pattern because you're applying for the wrong jobs. Look for jobs that are more devops focused; they will probably care a lot more about your certifications and ask you less algorithm questions.

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    Don't get me wrong, I truly enjoy being a SW developer over a DevOps specialist. The idea of my question is that the interviewing process is fairly different from the real job (i.e. how often does one implements an actual traversion through a binary tree? - I don't as a Java/Spring guy and I have met noone who does in the production code). – Nikolas Charalambidis Oct 21 at 15:09
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    That's fair, but those questions also test whether or not you know what a binary tree is and why it's better than a linked list, which implies that you have at least some algorithm training and are less likely to try to do insertion sort on an array in production code (which is a thing that actually does come up). I do agree though, some of the interview questions I've seen are quite...obtuse. – Ertai87 Oct 21 at 15:14
  • "...know what a binary tree is and why it's better than a linked list..." - That's a valid point I am aware of, thanks for pointing it out! – Nikolas Charalambidis Oct 21 at 15:23

can it help me to skip these annoying HackerRank/LeetCode style questions

No, as an interviewer, seeing a (free) certificate would never prompt me to handwave technical questions. You'd have to show without a doubt that you were beyond the skill level tested, through work experience or a strong refererral - but then it may not the right job for you.

You might be better off with an interesting project to discuss that shows your skills. This may be more worth my time to understand your thought process and might allow you to "run out the clock" without the standard questions.

(My experience is interviewing for very junior roles in a large company. Interviewers vary, of course.)

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  • Thanks! It's nice to hear that an interesting project to discuss is a big plus. – Nikolas Charalambidis Oct 22 at 8:52
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    Having been hand waved pass the technical interviews more than a few times, as a person getting hired, I can say this: The privilege of not doing a programming challenge never came from any kind of certification. It only came from others deep within the organization who have seen my work, and vouched for me personally. This kind of vouching isn't "let's see if he's interested" The kind of vouching that avoids the technical interviews sounds like "If we ever get the chance to hire him, do it. I worked with him on X, and what he did was amazing." It's rare that you get to skip the process. – Edwin Buck Oct 23 at 0:13

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