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I have recently interviewed twice with a company both interviews seemed to go well. It was for a software development role, but I wasn't asked any technical questions or asked to prove my ability to write code. Granted I have code available on my GitHub account and other projects online, but I've never had an interview where I've not been asked generic coding questions be it about algorithms, design patterns or otherwise.

There were lengthy technical discussions, but personally it feels a little bit odd not to be challenged on what I'd be doing day in day out.

I'm curious to see what other people think about this. Namely people who are part of the hiring process

EDIT - question to employer

It's a question I've put forward to them. I have asked how they know I'm technically suitable for the position and also if the interview process has been the same for previous candidates as well. I'll update again with the response when I hear back.

EDIT - answer from employer

Got a response, they had looked at examples of my work on GitHub and live projects that are up online, combined with my commercial experience prior to interviewing. If a candidate doesn't have examples of work available they'd be reluctant to continue with them.

  • What kinds of topics did you cover in the technical discussions? Did you have opportunities to describe your problem solving processes? Did you get to talk about the kinds of problems you solved in the past? This may have sufficiently answered your interviewer's questions without a technical evaluation. – sleddog Jun 6 '17 at 18:25
  • I know a good programmer that told me where he work they do not ask specific technical questions. They discuss about the projects that the candidate did in the past and what his the candidate philosophy about XYZ technologies for 1 to 3 hours then they decide if they hire or pass. Then they fire fast during probation period, before 6 months. Their philosophy is they are too many parameters to evaluate a candidate, bring him on board is the fastest way to conclude if it is a good fit or not. – Sebastien DErrico Jun 6 '17 at 18:33
  • @sleddog It was mainly discussing what tools, libraries and frameworks I'd used within the languages that I use. I was asked about the most challenging piece of work I had done recently so I explained how I went about approaching that task. It was for a backend web development role and I consider myself a full stack developer so they were really keen to figure out if I'd be comfortable focusing primarily on backend work. The interview wasn't challenging it was just talking about day to day processes such as pull requests, coding, projects I'd worked on. There were a lot of questions both ways. – user71044 Jun 6 '17 at 18:36
  • Are your references from technical professionals in a relevant field? Perhaps they feel like, between that and the discussions they've had with you that they are comfortable that you're not making it up. – PoloHoleSet Jun 6 '17 at 20:40
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Not really.

Companies are finding out that tech interviews aren't worth that much. I for one couldn't pass one to save my life. But I did save my company a few million dollars last year.

Different companies have different styles. I had one manager who didn't care about the tech half as much as he did the personality. He'd say "I can send you to classes to learn anything you need, but if you don't get along with people, I can't do anything about that".

If it's a job that isn't a highly specialized, highly senior position, the tech interview is often omitted these days.

  • I guess this makes sense as well. I just came across this blog post brandonsavage.net/… it's from a while ago, but it still stands as relevant today I'd say. Some interesting discussions on there. – user71044 Jun 6 '17 at 18:59
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    Almost every programming job I've gotten I haven't had to do any sort of "technical pop quiz" or white boarding. Every time I have to do a quiz I've gotten little to no feedback on what was wrong (in one case, the test was given via 3rd party website and one of the questions I got scored a 0, despite having correct output for every test input I gave, I asked the site about it and they said they'd ask and get back to me; they haven't). Only one company has told me that I was disqualified due to no specific-industry experience. They were very up front and nice about it, and I think them for that – Draco18s Jun 6 '17 at 19:09
  • @Draco18s Ah, the whiteboard. I have Dysgraphia. I literally cannot write. Never can pass a whiteboard quiz, for obvious reasons – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '17 at 19:19
  • @RichardU Heh. I had to do one not to long ago about an image format I wasn't familiar with. I forget what it's called, but it uses a fractal-arrangement for the indicies. I could see the pattern but it took me close to 20 minutes to work out the math. – Draco18s Jun 6 '17 at 19:23
  • I've interviewed for a lot of jobs in the past few years (due to my own desire to change, and due to sold and failed startups). I have never not had a technical interview, except at a startup looking for the first technical hire. While technical ability is not the only thing to test for, if they aren't testing for it they're absolutely incompetent and you should RUN away. – Gabe Sechan Jun 7 '17 at 2:27
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I will start by a classic : it's very likely to depends.

For a Junior position, you might need a coding tests to check if he has his basis.

However for more experienced developers, knowing what function of framework you need to do XY is pretty useless, then answer is on the net.

What matters for experienced people are more things like :

  • Capacity of analyze the problem to find a proper solution (readability, maintenability,...) instead of coding straight to have something working.
  • Team play
  • If you require some specific technologies/design pattern/whatever, you want them to know how to use them, what make them good, what are those limits.
  • Documentation : and I don't mean comments, I mean real documentation with UML diagrams or others standards. Comments are only for very localized things they don't give a view of the big picture.

All of them are really easy to check by talking.

Note that I wouldn't rely on a mere sample code on github :

  • You do not know how long has he taken to the one having the code with the current quality.
  • Yo do not know if it is really his.

Of course if the candidate has written a whole library or contribute to something more huge that's different.

  • 1
    Coding interviews are never about "knowing what function of a framework do you need to do XY". I assume even a junior can use google. They're about problem solving, critical thinking, ability to write an algorithm, ability to ask questions about requirements, ability to debug their own work. The goal isn't even a bug free function (although that's nice), its to see them work through their thought. That gets more important for a senior position, not less. – Gabe Sechan Jun 7 '17 at 18:02
  • @GabeSechan Then we didn't pass the same tests. Personnaly it was knowing the function of the framework XY to use, knowing what is a factory or some unusual and unnecessary specific syntax of an element in Java (it was about array I don't remember what though), and paper test, so no debugging aniway. – Walfrat Jun 8 '17 at 7:18
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Red flag! If they're not testing you, they're not testing your teammates either. Low standards. If you're a strong developer, you may get run ragged trying to bear the weight of a low-standards shop. This actually happened to me.

Really, really do your homework on this place.

  • That was my initial thoughts as well. I do have a good deal of open source code available. I don't know how much of that they have actually looked at though. But your right about the fact that it's not just me not being assessed. Maybe not what I wanted to hear but it makes sense. – user71044 Jun 6 '17 at 18:18
  • Since you mentioned design patterns, I'm going to make the assumption that you know OOP in practice. Try this. Can you imagine trying to explain OOP practice to someone already at the job (and full of him/herself) when you want to implement some code that applies it, and then discovering that person to be clueless? Then take it to the boss - who might be clueless, too. It's all downhill from there! – Xavier J Jun 6 '17 at 18:22
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    that's a total bull*, I typically want candidate to do coding test but in cases like mentioned by OP when they've got code available online (provided I can be reasonably sure it's their own), it is so much more reliable to study that code instead of messing with stupid interview tests that I pick github and feel so much better. I've seen enough "brilliant" interview cowboys who couldn't code in the real projects – gnat Jun 6 '17 at 18:36
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    @gnat amen to that. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '17 at 21:17
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    @gnat You can never be reasonably assured its their own. I've been offered lots of money multiple times to take coding interviews/tests/provide github repos for people. I didn't take it- but I know others who have. And we've caught interviewees who couldn't explain their own code. If you don't see them write it, the only assumption to make is that they didn't. – Gabe Sechan Jun 7 '17 at 2:24
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Absolutely. It means that all of your coworkers were hired with the same lack of testing. Do you want to have a coworker who doesn't actually know to program? That can maybe get by on simple problems by copying and pasting, but can't design a program if their life depended on it? Odds are, they're hiring them. Worse, it means management is so clueless that they don't realize why its a bad idea. Run away.

  • The OP said there "were lengthy technical discussions". That's just a test in another format. I much prefer a technical discussion deep dive to a "write me a bubble sort" whiteboard session. Of course, the caveat here is what exactly was covered in the discussions. – Laconic Droid Jun 7 '17 at 19:20

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