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Recently, I was invited for a technical interview round by a prominent company, lets call it X. The interview consists of several data based analytical questions. It so happens that for a particular set of questions, the relevant data was not provided to me. I immediately raised this problem to the hiring manager. He brushed off my request by saying,

Other candidates were able to solve the same exercise so I think you can do the same!

So now my question is, in the absence of the required resource I'll not be able to test the correctness of the proposed solution. And this will go against my candidacy for the role applied in X. How do I justify this anomaly in my answers report to the company X?

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Well, one possibility is that that may be an indicator that the company (or at least the person you're interviewing with) would not be a good one to work for. What happens if you were employed by them and they give you a project that you don't have enough info to do and they dismiss your concerns whilst you're employed?

I'll not be able to test the correctness of the proposed solution

Could you still deliver a solution, albeit one that can't be tested?

How do I justify this anomaly in my answers report to the company X?

If it's a test you do at home you could just say at the top something like "unable to test this due to whatever" in the answers report that you turn in.

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    +1 An interview goes both ways! They are trying to figure out if you're a good fit for them; you should also be trying to figure out if they are a good fit for you. – mhwombat Feb 13 at 19:30
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How do I justify this anomaly in my answers report to the company X?

It doesn't appear that this was an anomaly. Rather, it was intentional. If others were actually able to provide answers, then you don't justify anything. You either provide your (untested) answer, or you don't.

If you provide an untested answer, you may or may not get the job. If you choose not to provide an untested answer, then your chances will almost certainly be diminished.

You can always choose to say "In my opinion, in the absence of the required resource I'll not be able to test the correctness of the proposed solution." and leave it at that.

It's quite possible that they are not expecting candidates to test the correctness of their solution during the course of the interview process. If that bothers you, then you can just decline the remainder of the interview and bow out.

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    Or the hiring person is just clueless about the process, so they BS'ed out of the request by saying that. – T. Sar Feb 14 at 18:10
  • @jjoe-strazzere, Thought to add an update. Based on the incomplete set of Qs asked in technical round, I submitted the report to the company. I was then invited for round 2 interview with Team Leader (TL) (who was present in round 1 too). Several times during the course of interview, I corrected the TL on his shallow technical knowledge. I think he did not take it in good spirit. End result was that HR called and said, We are sorry to inform that we will not be moving forward with your application! LOL – mnm Feb 19 at 12:12
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I feel your core assumption is wrong: "They don't supply test data, therefore I cannot test".

If you don't have test data to work with, you should generate your own test data.

They almost certainly want to see some level of problem solving. Waving the white flag, so to speak, will almost certainly exclude you from the interview progress.

After all, in real life, this type of situation happens a fair bit.

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  • you have misunderstood the Q in its totality... This Q has NOTHING to do with Machine Learning (ML). Just because I use the term test the correctness of the proposed solution does not infer that its a ML problem. – mnm Feb 14 at 11:07
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    @mnm I never said anything about machine learning. Did you mean to comment on another answer? – Gregory Currie Feb 14 at 11:15
  • sorry my bad. I misunderstood the answer. Re-reading it again cleared the purported assumption. – mnm Feb 14 at 11:51
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    @mnm, I feel this is the correct answer. They're purposefully testing for ambiguity. When there is ambiguity, you ask clarifying questions, and if you still don't get an answer that helps you, you muddle through by constructing your own set of data (even if it's vastly inferior to anything they could have given you. Just place an asterisk to that data set and tell them the assumptions you used in creating that data). – Stephan Branczyk Feb 15 at 6:54
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Without knowing more about the questions, I can come up with a final possibility.

My company will pose a question to which relevant data isn't given. It is the prospective employee's responsibility to surmise relevant data and correctly utilize it based on their experience and skill set.

Unfortunately, the point of it is to test the candidate's experience and skill set.

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The purpose of an interview is not that you give answers to technical questions. The purpose is to find out whether you will be an asset to the company if they hire you. The situation you were in could easily happen while you’re employed - the company wants answers and there isn’t enough data, and it would be your job to do what’s needed. So you should demonstrate what you would do in that situation, and it would be best if you can show that you would do something useful.

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