Richard Bucker

Response: startup coding challenges

Posted at — Jan 3, 2012

Startup coding challenges are meaningless. They are a way for the “haves” to show they are superior to the “have-nots”. In very many ways it’s legalized cyber-bullying. [If you’ve ever watched a show like big brother or Survivor; you peer(s) are not your friends. The workplace is not a utopia and therefore your peers are not your friends either.] In fact So under all but the rarest of circumstances should a prospective employee be interviewed by a peer because: if the manager does not take the peer’s advice and hires the candidate anyway; the peer will feel slighted unless the peer is trained what to look for in the interview he/she will likely game system so that lesser candidates are hired the interview and hiring process is [already] subjective. The coding challenge is very subjective; disguised as objective. “solve the challenge and get the job and get the job” is just not the way it is… “solve the problem using my favorite language with my favorite idioms and comments and maybe you have a job so long as your salary needs are less than mine” [I made this exact statement before Braintree posted exactly this description]And while I’m on the subject… sample code is almost as bad. This is code that is usually picked over and over incorporating all of the “best practices”. This does not tell you anything about what to expect from the candidate in the first 100 days.It is incumbent on the manager(s) and candidate’s potential supervisors to evaluate the candidate on some very basic criteria. does the candidate get “it”? does the candidate have any useful specialized domain knowledge? will the candidate work well with the team? is the candidate a “hero” or “ego”? self starter? continuing education? able to communicate clear thoughts? able to work under pressure? flexibility? Especially for the ideas of others. how does the candidate handle stress? how does the candidate handle differing opinions?I would say that any serious human resources department’s annual review questionnaire is a good place to start since these are the questions you’re going to be asking anyway.Good Luck!