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Does it make a programmer weak for using Google or Stack Overflow when coding?

Does it make a programmer weak for using Google or Stack Overflow when coding?

Actually, the way I host interviews for programmers is giving four different programming assignments in specific tight niches, making sure it’s so specific they are unlikely to have any prior knowledge.

  • They have laptop and access to the internet so they can use Google or any other source of the information they find suitable. (academic papers, etc…)
  • I make sure they are provided with food and drink (pizza and a beer being most popular), just to break down the sterile atmosphere.
  • They have as much time as they want to solve problems (which are not trivial at all). If they want to stay all night, they are welcome.
  • They are allowed to talk to each other and share opinions, use a whiteboard, etc., etc. Someone wants a quick nap? No problem.

It’s not my goal to hire someone who keeps everything in the head. The market changes so rapidly that it would probably take six lifetimes to master a niche-specific area. Rather, my goal is to evaluate how capable they are of acquiring knowledge.

In short, “Welcome to testing.” The kitchen is located here, here’s a fridge, here’s your food, here’s your laptop, here’s where we keep the beer. Welcome to our conference room, booked for your testing for next “as long as you need” hours or days. 🙂

This approach has given me the best results.
About 50% of candidates will leave testing within the first 15 minutes, thinking it’s highly unprofessional and a total joke. It’s not uncommon that they get upset and even angry: “I was in school blah blah years, working blah blah, and now you are asking me to solve something I never worked with in language I am not familiar with.”

  • Thanks, bye. If you are a programmer, you can write code in any language — it’s just a matter of syntax, which you can find easily online.

The drop rate continues in the next two hours. Those who are left trying to solve a problem have already passed most important exam: They will push for the company when we enter into the unknown. Usually, most of them find a way around to solve the problem, better or worse. However, we are sure not to end up into a situation facing a new technology at the customer site without being able to find our way around. These are future teams you can rely on in the middle of the night to solve things when no one else knows what to do.

  • Coders are a whole opposite story. No Google, no finding a way around, you know or you don’t. However, their future job is to do boring and repetitive work according to the designs of the teams described above.

I leave you to conclude if it bad or not. It comes down to what you want.
References may concern Quora


Published by Ahmed's

Hello, I’m Ahmed, Crew trainer for Zohr gas field. I am a software engineer, consultant, and Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft instructor/tutor. Currently living in Dumyat al Jadidah, Damietta, Egypt. My interests range from education to technology. I am also interested in entrepreneurship, programming, and cooking. I'm a member of the Scientific Research Center at the US Embassy.

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