One of the problems that I have always been pondering about is how to go about solving technical interview problems. For example, suppose I was asked, at an interview:

 Given an array of integers, remove all duplicates elements from it

For me, because a lot of my experience is in Java, I would just use libraries.

But it seems that the solution to those problems on the books are generally low level, or have some tricks.

TLDR: Is it acceptable to use libraries, high level abstractions with higher level languages to solve technical problems? Or are we supposed work with none of those tools?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., Jan Doggen, Stephan Kolassa, gnat, Chris E Dec 19 '14 at 12:59

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    this is more a developers question than a workplace issue. – bharal Dec 19 '14 at 1:46
  • This answer on Programmers SE should help you. – prockel Dec 19 '14 at 8:44

I'd likely ask in the interview as sometimes the key with those questions is to see what will be asked and what will be assumed. How do you ask if you have a question? How do you handle ambiguity that may pop up? This is often the key behind some of these things. In reality, there could be various answers to the question which is why seeking clarity is important.


Is it acceptable to use libraries, high level abstractions with higher level languages to solve technical problems?

Maybe. It depends on what point in the interview you're in, and what position you're applying for. If I asked an entry level programmer, then answering the library way may be expected. If I was asking a senior level programmer, I might want you to do it by hand.

In general, there is no harm with responding with the library way. If they want you to do it without libraries, they'll clarify.

  • Right, so then it is ok to assume, given any technical interview, that I can use whatever languages I want, whatever libraries I want – Mantracker Dec 18 '14 at 20:59
  • Especially since I am an intern, didn't even graduate with university yet – Mantracker Dec 18 '14 at 20:59
  • If the position is for a specific language, it might be better to use that language, if you can. – HamHamJ Dec 18 '14 at 21:17
  • 2
    @Mantracker - if you are uncomfortable assuming, ask. If unspecified, feel free to use whatever. They'll correct you if needs be. – Telastyn Dec 18 '14 at 22:06
  • 2
    @Telastyn has it right: ASK whether there are additional constraints they haven't specified. Refining fuzzy requirements is going to be part of your job; they'll want to see you demonstrate that you can do so. – keshlam Dec 18 '14 at 22:14

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.