tech interviews

Published on Mar 26, 2019

At my dayjob we like to give candidates a coding exercise. 

Cuts through the awkwardness of whiteboard interviews, avoids trivia questions, and lets the candidate shine in their natural environment.

Here's how most candidates bomb this one ?


Interviews are stressful so we tip the scales in your favor as much as possible.


1) You are encouraged to use the internet. We care as much about how you solve gaps in skills as how you solve problems. It's a crucial skill for engineers.


2) You work with your favorite editor. No coderpads or weird editors that might trip you up or miss a shortcut you're used to using.


3) We let you use your favorite tech stack. A few days before the interview you are told to come prepared with a skeleton server that can handle REST API requests.

You will implement a simple API with 2 endpoints. We will test via Postman.

And that's where everything goes to shit. ?


I see candidates come in full of confidence. I'm gonna use Express! Used it a lot in my previous job. Or Django or Rails or whatever they have most experience in.

You are encouraged. Whatever you're comfortable with. We don't care as long as you build a working API.


There is this moment, about 30min into the 90min interview, when the candidate's face whitens. Their voice stutters. Their confidence breaks into a panic.

Fuck me, I haven't built anything from scratch in years. How do you add a new route? How do you read query params? Why isn't my dev server listening to external requests? ?


A lot of candidates have experience with various frameworks. Almost nobody has experience with just the framework. Without all the machinery their company built on top.


There's a lesson to be learned here.

? practice using your favorite tools on their own, without the company baggage.

You might discover you don't know your tools as well as you thought.–