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I did a phone interview for a programming job with a hiring manager. He mentioned that I did well, although I couldn't come up with complete and optimized answers for some of the questions on the fly, which were relatively hard algorithm questions. Would it be considered a good practice to resend the complete solutions after the interview to him?

Edit:

The questions were not exactly generic programming questions. They were tailored towards their products. I know they would obviously know that I did some research, but I'm hoping sending a follow up answer while clearly saying I did look up a few things, shows that I can solve the problem more optimally in real life. Is this recommended or can it have a bad impression on them?

marked as duplicate by Jim G., Dawny33, Chris E, Lilienthal, keshlam May 21 '16 at 0:36

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    Wouldn't hurt but I would imagine they'd know you looked up the answer rather than knowing it yourself. – Dan May 12 '16 at 18:41
  • I wouldn't bother. – hownowbrowncow May 12 '16 at 19:40
  • @Ari In your edit you ask if it is recommended. I say it is your call but I wouldn't put that much effort into it as their opinions were formed during the interview. They might see this as a positive thing though so try it out. – Dan May 13 '16 at 14:58
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I've done this, more than once. Once the stress of a live coding interview is over, answers I couldn't come up with during the actual interview have a way of just popping into my head. Once, literally as I was hanging up the phone at the conclusion of an interview (that involved coding via screen-sharing) a simple, elegant solution to a problem I had failed to solve occurred to me. I let out a scream of frustration, typed up the solution, and emailed it to the interviewer.

It has never helped. In my experience, if you do not absolutely ace a technical interview, you don't get an offer. Heck, even if you do ace the technical interview, chances are there are several other developers in the candidate pool who performed similarly well, so your chances are still not very good. Competition for programming jobs is pretty cutthroat :)

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    I had a similar experience once: A programming task was part of an interview; I worked on it with an interviewer looking over my shoulder for about 30 minutes until he told me to stop (it was late, so I figured he was going home); they said they'd get back to me within a few days. After leaving I completed the task (two different ways!) within an hour or so and sent them the finished code. An almost immediate reply came, stating "Thanks, but you're not what we're looking for." I was annoyed they didn't tell me this at the end of the interview, but at least I didn't have to wait "a few days". – GreenMatt May 12 '16 at 19:56
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Viewpoint from a hiring manager:

I would be very surprised at this kind of action from a candidate - and, depending on exactly what they sent back, it might work in their favour.

How to make it work

If you just respond with "hey, I googled the problem and found this solution was better than mine", it wouldn't really add anything to the consideration.

On the other hand, if you say something like:

I found that problem very interesting, and while I think I provided a good and working solution, I've been putting in some extra thought and think I've a more optimal one.

I did a bit of research - (link to wherever) - and found this similar idea, and if I adapted it, then the algorithm would be (some) faster.

Is it worth it, though

While it's nice to know that you're keen to improve and research, and interested enough in the job to try and score a few more points, it probably won't change the outcome.

For one thing - a good hiring manager will realise that getting a highly optimised solution in a short, supervised test is not very likely - they are looking at other things, like your approach and surface knowledge (ie, not reinventing wheels when the language has a built-in methods for that).

For another - if you didn't come across as keen and excited person at the interview, any follow up won't fix that. Conversely, if you did come across as keen and excited, any follow up won't add to that impression.

In the end, there'd have to be a very fine balance between you and any other candidate for the spot for this to influence whether you get the call.

Still - it's good for your own skill development to see how to approach the test question better - but I wouldn't bother following up with the interviewer.

  • Indeed - the point of technical tests is not the answer itself, since in any sane work situation you would have Google by your side. A post-interview answer provides no evidence that they actually put in extra thought, or just googled at home. – Julia Hayward May 13 '16 at 8:51
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As a counterpoint to some of the other answers, I did what you are asking about when interviewing for my current position.

After stammering out a mediocre answer in front of a white board, I told the manager (now my boss), that I don't do well in such situations, but I understood his reservations (he gave me immediate feedback).

The company gave me a take home programming test, which I did. I also spent a little time coding an answer to what I was trying and failing to say in person.

After I was hired I was chatting with my new boss. He said the fact that I continued with the original problem and showed better what I was trying to do was beneficial in their evaluation of me. Would they have hired me simply via my take home submission? Probably, but that extra work helped.

Also, look at the down side: What harm does it do if you suggest other/better answers in a follow up email? If they don't like you, you have spent some time you won't get back. If they are on the fence, you might snag an offer.

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My advice is to send a follow up email a few days from now expressing you really enjoyed the interview and would still be interested in the job.

As far as sending an answer to a interview question post interview, I wouldn't do that. They would know you looked up the answer and forward them what you found. That may or may not help you.

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    Or they would know you could have and might suspect you did.. But that really depends on the question, and actually an honest "interesting question so I researched it and ..." might show initiative. – keshlam May 12 '16 at 22:41

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