[Baypiggies] Salary Ranges

Andrew Akira Toulouse andrew at atoulou.se
Wed Feb 17 21:24:19 CET 2010

More details, please, so I can file a bug report with facebook (I sat
near a guy on the puzzle team when I interned there, and could
inquire) - they're really an awesome company, but their best recruiter
left for a younger, shinier company, and their hiring practices
haven't really scaled too well over the past year as far as I can

On Wed, Feb 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM, Don Bennett <dpb at donbennett.org> wrote:
> After failing to get a Python solution to pass the Puzzlebot, and
> switched to C++ and received a 'pass' with the same algorithm; I
> haven't gone back to any of my other solutions to see if I can get a
> passing solution in Python...
> Don
> On Wed, Feb 17, 2010 at 8:33 AM, Roderick Llewellyn
> <roderick at sanfransystems.com> wrote:
>> I applied to one job (Calypso Technology, in the financial communications
>> space), for which I had very good qualifications IMHO. They had a typical
>> automated form, which required about 30-40 minutes of cutting and pasting
>> from my resume, as it had separate entry fields for each job, each employer,
>> dates, etc (rather than just pasting my entire resume), and also asked for
>> skills ratings for various technologies. They had the requirement of filling
>> in a numerical desired salary (you could not proceed without doing so). I
>> entered $100,000, not believing in low-balling either. At 9:34 in the
>> morning, moments after submitting the form, I got an automated reply
>> acknowledging my submssion. At 9:37 -- three minutes later -- I got a
>> rejection notice from the same mailing address. Obviously no human looked at
>> my qualifications. I was rejected by a computer program that said "IF
>> desired_salary > tiny_amount_we_want_to_pay THEN Reject(candidate)".  The
>> good news is it took only 3 minutes instead of waiting around for weeks and
>> never hearing back from the employer, which is more typical American
>> practice. Should I have "low-balled" the salary requirement? Tried to
>> out-guess their program?
>> Just for fun, here's another horror story. I was contacted by Facebook (thru
>> LinkedIn), by an internal recruiter, someone named Yancy Rivera. (I don't
>> mind naming names!). After some discussion, it sounded like I qualified for
>> the position, so he told me the next step was to go on their engineering
>> page and solve one of two "puzzles" held therein. These puzzles are computer
>> programs you must write in any of several languages. I chose Python (doh!)
>> In case anybody is familiar with these, I picked the "User Bin Crash"
>> problem. It's a typical NP-complete type problem.You prepare your program
>> and submit it to its "Puzzlebot" which every 4 hours runs your program and
>> presents it with various test cases. If your program doesn't pass, the bot
>> gives you a rejection email. You are told nothing else; you are not given
>> test data, you are not given exceptions, you are not even told that your
>> program took too long to run. Is this a realistic debugging scenario?
>> Now my mistake was not doing what every modern programmer would have done:
>> cheated. I should have just downloaded a solution off the web. Maybe that
>> was the real test. After all, few companies actually want you to do any real
>> programming these days, they want you to download free software and tweak
>> its XML configuration parameters. Anyway, after many submissions, I was
>> still unable to pass their bot, tho my program passed every test case I
>> threw at it. So I finally broke down and downloaded a Python solution off
>> the web that supposedly passed Puzzlebot. I analyzed this solution and
>> discovered a flaw! If your test case contained a large prime number, it
>> would blow memory and could take a very long time. Sure enough, when I gave
>> it the largest prime < 1 billion (there's a table on the web, of course),
>> the "working" solution failed by blowing memory but it passed my solution
>> handily. However, for many cases, the "working" solution was somewhat faster
>> than mine. Almost certainly that was why my solution did not pass Puzzlebot.
>> So I wrote to the recruiter explaining this, saying that "this is the
>> problem with using a machine to judge a man". With my mind, I was able to
>> analyze a supposedly working solution, one that had passed Puzzlebot,
>> discovering a major flaw. Letting Puzzlebot decide who gets hired would not
>> have brought in the most analytical mind, merely one good at fooling a
>> machine. He promised to contact Engineering and, at long last, actually run
>> my resume past a technical person. About 15 minutes later I got a "thanks
>> but no thanks" from them. After 20 hours of programming, they spent a
>> quarter of an hour of their technical people's time on me. Maybe much less.
>> Needless to say, I won't be using Facebook anymore!
>> Have fun,
>> Rod Llewellyn
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