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riddles >> general problem-solving / chatting / whatever >> Pros/Cons of Riddles In Interviews; a M$ problem
(Message started by: Misha Kruk on Jul 29th, 2002, 8:12pm)

Title: Pros/Cons of Riddles In Interviews; a M$ problem
Post by Misha Kruk on Jul 29th, 2002, 8:12pm
I'd like to add to the discussion from slashdot on the topic of value of the riddles during the interview. I agree that asking those things on the interview is usually a bad idea. Any interesting puzzle from this site takes a couple of hours of thinking and this is not for an interview. They want to see my thinking process? They want to see how well I perform under stress? Crap. I think under stress just fine and I can share thinking process, but with someone I know and feel comfortable with, not a guy I see for the first time and am scared of.

I love the riddles though. If I ever get to interview people, I might ask them to tell me a riddle they liked.

The best impression I had of an interviewer was after this:
He: Hi. This is computer. Do you know how to use it?
Me: ...um... yes? [ah, it was such a nice Octane]
He: This is vi. Do you know how to use it?
Me: More or less.
He: Good. Click-click (checks our file from cvs). Here is a function from our product. I'll be back it 15 minutes, and you will tell me what it does.

Now for the Microsoft interview question: my friend was interviewed there a couple of months ago. Two rounds: phone and in person. When she came for the second round she was asked a couple of questions, among them there was one from the first round. She did The Right Thing (tm): honestly said that she already answered that and how long it took her to figure it out. I don't like conspiracy theories, but I'd say there is 60% chance that it was a honesty test.
Needless to say, she didn't get the job :)ы

Title: Re: pros/cons and one Microsoft interview question
Post by Eric Yeh on Aug 2nd, 2002, 9:23pm

I have a different perspective.  I've been to many interviews and I've given perhaps an equal number by now, so I can see both sides of the fence.  From the interviewing perspective, I think these questions actually are quite useful to show how people think.  Don't worry though -- interviewers of course understand that things are much harder when you're under pressure and do not know the interviewer, as you mentioned in your post.  This is why they help you through problems, and in the end do not judge you as harshly as you may judge yourself on coming out of the interview.  So in the end it all balances out.  :)

BTW, you have a good intuition regarding interviewing:  some of my brightest interviewers have asked me for my best problem at the ends of my interviews.  I consider it a sign of intelligence in my interviewers.  :)


Title: Re: pros/cons and one Microsoft interview question
Post by anshil on Aug 19th, 2002, 2:39am
I say clever problem solving is NOT that a key criteria for a good programmer, in contrast to what many think:

A lot of other attributes that make a good progammer:

Most important: can he team work? Or is he a "I'm so leet im so good" egoist? Such people can be good programmers in little single person application, but can kill a team.

Can he solve problems in a clear way? Code maintainabilty is more important than everything else. (It's more important to have a clean way, than to save 7 bytes, or 20 CPU cycles.)

Is he lazy? Far too much programmers are just lazy snails. Thats the reason you find so few function headers, or sometimes redicoulous code.

Is he able to use a 10 finger typeset, or is he using a two-eagle-search-and-hit system. A lot of code suffers from insane short function names, variable names, documentation because programmers just can't type correctly.

Does he bring any new value knowledge into a team? Where does he come from? Getting employees from your competition does buy you information, about their techniques and how they are solveing problems, don't refrain to copy it the other way for a specific part is better.

and so on and so on, there are many, many things and nobody can fullfill all, you should contract the one that best fits your needs. I say an interviewer taking riddles during an interview does not understand his job at all.

Title: Re: pros/cons and one Microsoft interview question
Post by Eric Yeh on Sep 9th, 2002, 7:30pm
Gosh am I lucky!!!!!  Never a dearth of vitriolic posts to contend with, no sir!!  Not for me!!!

Anshil, I hardly disagree that the characteristics you mention are valuable and perhaps even critical to many jobs.  You'll note that I never suggested that an interview should consist ONLY of puzzles.

However, I DO believe that thought processes are still valuable information to have as a part of the entire information set.  There are other puzzles besides just saving 7 bytes or 20 CPU cycles that can be quite helpful for larger scale programming -- e.g. questions involving complex data structures etc., or algorithm problems.  There are also many positions that do NOT require some of the teamwork skills you mention, so your blanket closing statement is clearly overly general and uncalled for.


Title: Re: Pros/Cons of Riddles In Interviews; a M$ probl
Post by sheep on Oct 7th, 2005, 8:19pm
those people are seriously ageist. discriminating against old age... :-/

Title: Re: Pros/Cons of Riddles In Interviews; a M$ probl
Post by richard.lao11 on Apr 5th, 2010, 3:08pm
I'm all for riddles in interviews. I think they are a good way of checking on how people are under pressure. Of course, I wouldn't really judge a person on whether he GOT the riddle right or wrong. I'll judge him on HOW he reacts/ how fast he thinks it through and how well he answers. :)

Title: Re: Pros/Cons of Riddles In Interviews; a M$ probl
Post by Ela on Aug 19th, 2012, 3:11am
every time that a new worker apply for a job we select one of the 'medium' level riddle over here,
and in our problem-bank in the organization.

you just can't argue with the resaults.

Title: Re: Pros/Cons of Riddles In Interviews; a M$ probl
Post by issam.ibrahim on Feb 13th, 2014, 9:33am
To get a job these days is very difficult
Even if you have a learning or career certificate

Title: Re: Pros/Cons of Riddles In Interviews; a M$ probl
Post by wakiza33 on Sep 16th, 2014, 9:43am
Google famously uses riddles in their interviews.

I plan on starting a small business, and I'll say, I don't have the time or budget for R & D in judging employee potential.

Google does though, so I'll copy whatever they do, and use a riddle or two.

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