[Tutor] Am I missing something obvious about "FizzBuzz"?

Alan Gauld alan.gauld at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Oct 1 19:58:06 EDT 2017

On 01/10/17 22:39, Marc Tompkins wrote:

>>> Probably the best programming test there is look at code
>>> that's already been developed,
>> It is what we did with the bug finding test. 

> My test was, fortunately for me, not a start-from-scratch FizzBuzz problem,
> but debugging a report module that was on the department's "to-fix" list.

I think that's the point, its much easier to use real code in
a debug situation than in a write-something-new type test.
If the code is halfway decent you can figure out what it
does even if you don;t know the libraries - or even, as
in your case, the language!

But if you had been asked to write a new function in that
reporting system (assuming you knew COBOL) that would have
been much harder without knowing the database schema or the
query libraries that existed.

> It took me about twenty-five minutes to find the problem

But here is another problem, when we interviewed folks we
got an hour in total per candidate so if a single exercise
took 25 minutes we would never have had a chance to explore
the other skills they needed. It had to be 10-15 mins max.

The reality is that interviewers need some kind of filter
and there is no perfect one. I've come to the conclusion
that the hire process should work on the basis that you
take someone on for a 3 month trial, its the only real
way to tell if they are any good. But legal and corporate
requirements mean that's unlikely to ever happen.

In the meantime interviewees and interviewers alike struggle
to find a meaningful way to select real talent in a market
where far more unsuitable candidates present themselves than
suitable. I fact often we could not even get enough good
candidates to fill the jobs available.
It typically went like this:

10 jobs
1000 applicants (if it was advertised externally)
100 interviews (run by the HR team)
40 tested (this is where I came in)
8 selected + 2 temporary contractors hired

Over the years we tried lots of different formats but
the end results were always about the same.

Alan G
Author of the Learn to Program web site
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