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Experiences with hiring... | Reply
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by jmzero) | Reply
Thanks for the stories!
This forum (General employment) is very instuctive overall, but posts like yours definitely bring something valuable to the community.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by jmzero) | Reply
Don't you have a CS degree yourself? If you have you must have gotten it at a better university than the one I got my (maths) degree. Otherwise you would have known you barely need any skills to acquire a CS degree. Let's just say I know you were not exaggerating.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by dskloet) | Reply
Interesting. I've always thought the same about CS degrees here, but I was pretty sure that this was a flaw of the french universities..
What about other countries ? Does `CS degree' mean anything there ?
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by broutcha) | Reply
I haven't seen any 'CS' degrees in Brisbane, but the Information Technology degree with CS major at my university is the same.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by broutcha) | Reply
Wow - then I guess I'm really lucky to study in Warsaw.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by dskloet) | Reply
It's the same in the UK where they are seen as vocational courses that churn out candidates with basic Java/C++/SQL skills who have had very little exposure to problem solving.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by Krzysan) | Reply
How is it in Warsaw? Is it hard to get a CS degree? As hard as a math one?
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by jmzero) | Reply
It's clear you're exaggerating a lot.
We all know that many people manage to pass their exams knowing next to nothing, but it's blatantly obvious that anyone with a degree in CS will solve that task fairly easily, even those who struggle to pass the courses and finish several years later than expected. I wonder what kind of people were going to that interview if there is any truth to it.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by jmzero) | Reply
It's my experience that people with CS degrees are a mixed batch of skills, but people with math degrees that do programming are generally good at it.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by elhipercubo) | Reply
Actually, I doubt he's exaggerating at all.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by elhipercubo) | Reply
I'm glad you doubt me. From the other responses, I was starting to think maybe I had just set the bar too high or something and that I was wrong to be disappointed.

To be clear, I am in full agreement with you - I have no idea how you can get through a CS degree and not be able to solve that problem while holding your breath. And, to be clear, the bulk of the applicants were technical school grads, but there were some with CS degrees.

I guess the reason I wasn't more surprised is that this isn't our first attempt at this kind of thing. We'd previously done "on your own time" challenges with mazes and such - and got back either horrible, lengthy, non-solutions that barely passed the example (or just "that's too hard" or "I don't have time for that"). So while I made this challenge as easy as I could, in the back of my mind I kind of expected it to give people problems. I just didn't expect it to give an hour's worth of problems to so many people.

EDIT: here's the previous challenge we asked people to do a few years ago (before I was much involved in TopCoder - so I apologize for the ambiguous problem): here. The guy who turned in the only strong solution on this one is my office neighbour now.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by jmzero) | Reply
In 12 years of technical recruiting, I can say without reservation that what jmzero is describing happens every single day, not just in small companies but across every industry, company size and geographic location. I've given out very, very simple logic problems as well (problems that I can solve, and I'm completely useless when it comes to math or programming) and have gotten back at best 25% correct answers from CS graduates or even from those with Masters level degrees in CS. Here's an example: "given a 3 minute hourglass and a 5 minute hourglass, how could you accurately measure 7 minutes?" It would amaze you how many people with a CS degree from a good university can't solve that problem given 10 minutes. Some couldn't solve it given all the time in the world.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by jmzero) | Reply
Oh but you should be disappointed about it! At least I am. I was just saying I was getting used to it. And of course you shouldn't lower the bar if you don't want to destroy your company by hiring incompetent people.
Re: Experiences with hiring... (response to post by harvey6ft) | Reply
I actually don't think that is a very good question for measuring "smarts" or ability. I think it falls into the "aha" category of questions. If you see the trick it is easy, if you don't, it's not.

I think jmzero's question is good because he makes sure people know how to solve the problem first. Therefore he is testing if they have the ability to convert a "human" algorithm into computer code.
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