Are Tech Interviews That Broken?

This Experienced Developer/Technical Interviewer had to re-learn coding to find a new job.

The other day I came across a very interesting(yet disturbing) article that made me wonder, “Is the job-hunt process really broken?” yet I haven’t heard anybody addressing this issue ever. This is the reason, I wanted to share this article(with a dash of my wisdom) with you and many more people in our tech community to raise questions and gather people’s opinions on it.

So without further ado, let's see what's the deal here.

So when I first read this article, I thought to myself that calling the job hunting process a nightmare might be a little too exaggerated. Of course, we don't know the whole story yet, so let's find out.

As we all know, he’s right about the online technical test, and since it’s so common today, we have so many more platforms available to do the same. HackerRank is the most popular one, then there’s HackerEarth, etc. Besides, there are myriads of other online platforms available to practice for these coding tests as well, to name a few, LeetCode, GeeksForGeeks, CodeChef, etc.

Now, about the other part, I don't know where this person has been for the last 10 years or so, but even small/medium-sized tech companies(in addition to, the tech giants, such as Google, Amazon, Apple….) have been conducting these coding tests and intensive technical interviews for a long time now. Moreover, it's not only true for experienced professionals, it's the same for recent graduates as well.

To give you a real-life example, one of my friends got into Amazon in 2019 after having cleared 6 rounds of interviews! Yes, it’s not a typo! 6! If you think that's insane, wait for the icing on the cake! In one of his final rounds, he was asked to come down to one of Amazon’s locations in Canada for an on-site interview which lasted for six hours. Yes, he was asked to code for six straight hours then explain his solutions and finally optimize his previous solutions.

First of all, kudos to this person for further honing his technical skills. Secondly, I somewhat agree with the other point he made. I believe, only a few companies understand that creating strong algorithms, and incessantly improving your code to come to an optimal solution are not the only traits that distinguish a good developer. Speaking from personal experience, most of the time, you don't even end up using the stuff you learned to crack the coding interviews, once you actually get the job.

Clearly, this person is coming way too out of his comfort zone(a big shout out to him), trying to learn new technologies to switch jobs when he has been an interviewer himself! I definitely like his viewpoint here. I think, given that this person has been an interviewer in the past, he understands how different people can have different styles to approach the same problem, and if you create a system and expect people to follow this particular framework. There is a high possibility that you might lose some people who have the audacity to think out of the box.

Now, being a recent graduate, I know that point “b) who've recently graduated and are familiar with the format” is not entirely true! Tips and tricks to crack these tests are not something that you learn in school on a daily basis, our schools focus more on imparting theoretical knowledge, therefore, to prepare for such tests, even the recent graduates, such as myself, tend to these online platforms. Although this takes a lot of time and effort, the good thing is when you're a recent graduate, and your whole purpose in life is to find a job, then time is one resource that you have in abundance, so yes I can give this to him, that’s a plus. Overall, even for a recent graduate, I think these interview processes entail much work.

However, I can only imagine how hard it would be for this person to maintain a work-life balance during this time, I mean with the kids, a family. On top of everything, he’s still willing to devote time to learn new concepts for his new job while focussing on his current job. I respect his grit and gumption.

Exactly now, I can totally relate to this part, but it's really funny though, how he has described the situation. It sounds so traumatic like someone's hunting you down and making you watch the Twilight Saga repeatedly until your eyes bleed(sorry for the over-exaggeration). The point here is that I've actually recently experienced these tests and they could be quite stressful. I know that most of you have already been through the same situation and the kind of pressure it puts on you can be intense!

Sadly, that was the case for him. All in all, I liked this article. I think some really good points were made and some harsh realities were highlighted. However, truth be told, I didn't like how in the end, this person wished that these tests were completely abolished. If the system isn't right, we should make amendments to it instead of getting rid of it altogether(at least in my view).

So, a suggestion over the top of my mind is that the question types could be changed to introduce more IQ-based questions so that the interviewee doesn't have to dedicate more time learning new concepts that they'll probably never use.

There's always room for improvement, in my opinion, but what do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section down below. Let me know if you agree to the current interview pattern, or do you have something in mind that you want to change? Thanks for reading.


References: 

  1. https://www.efinancialcareers.co.uk/news/2020/12/coding-interviews-hackerrank-nightmare