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Cool | Reply
Topcoders have an edge over others.
Re: Cool (response to post by mistr305) | Reply
This is what I used to think. Honestly I haven't noticed this edge during any of my job interviews. Most companies that I applied for knew that I do TopCoder and yet they still asked me to solve simple coding problems. Whats the point in that?!? - why can't they just look at my TC profile and my past solutions.
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
At least it creates a good feeling about you in their subconscious mind (Thats what I think) which will reflect in their feedback I assume.
Re: Cool (response to post by prunthaban) | Reply
I've had 3 rejections, despite thinking that I solved the problems during the technical interview correctly. They never even told me why they rejected me.
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
Get on the phone and ask them.

You have devoted your time and effort to interview so it is only reasonable you obtain some feedback to help you in the future.

Note - I assume you didn't make any obvious mistakes such as turning up to the interview in a tracksuit clutching a can of lager etc.
Re: Cool (response to post by Stroker_Ace) | Reply
These were all phone interviews and I cannot contact the interviewer. I emailed the recruitment officer, but she said they are not allowed to tell me. It is very difficult to improve if you don't know what you did wrong.
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
IMO it would be better to have a good pet project (that other people use) to show off, ideally some software that you made yourself and sold even if you didn't make much profit. It's just that real software development is too different from contests. It's almost like if you apply for a job at construction site and you mention rank at weightlifting competitions - I wouldn't expect it to make much difference.
Re: Cool (response to post by dmytry) | Reply
That is a very good suggestion. Although for most of my pet projects I rarely use any software engineering methods and just "bang it out". When the interviewers ask me how I solved my pet project I have no option but to describe my adhoc methods. This actually degrades their opinion of my skills.

It's just that real software development is too different from contests

I am starting to realize that this is the sad truth. I can see that TopCoder is trying to bridge that gap by having design/development contests. However, those contests have little appeal to me, because they look too much like real work.
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
That is a very good suggestion. Although for most of my pet projects I rarely use any software engineering methods and just "bang it out". When the interviewers ask me how I solved my pet project I have no option but to describe my adhoc methods. This actually degrades their opinion of my skills.

If you could start a new/redo an old pet project using the correct methods. You could then put it as if you started doing it the adhoc way but then learned why the methodology is useful with the newer project.
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
Ideal pet project is just something that people use (or play if its a game), it doesn't really matter that much what's inside IMO, though the proper design will be good for yourself because it is easier to code when project is to grow beyond expectations and is to be maintained.
You can even make millions on several K lines pet project if it is something that many people will use, its very unlikely but there are examples.
For the topcoder design and development contests, yes, it is real work, real code which TC would use, but the pay is absolute minimum. I'd recommend rentacoder for freelancing; it has about same community size (i think all freelancers are registered both on tc and rac) but completes 100x to 1000x more projects a month; far larger percentage of their community find their terms acceptable. (edit: it doesn't mean RAC is better than TC for you personally; for particular coder TC could very well give larger averaged pay than RAC)
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply

That is a very good suggestion. Although for most of my pet projects I rarely use any software engineering methods and just "bang it out". When the interviewers ask me how I solved my pet project I have no option but to describe my adhoc methods. This actually degrades their opinion of my skills.


Get involved in an open source project that you use.
Re: Cool (response to post by shalinmangar) | Reply
Get involved in an open source project that you use.


I hear this advice a lot and it's a good one, but, what's really getting involved ? is that finding bugs? developing ? and is it that "affordable" to be part of the dev team of an open source project?
Re: Cool (response to post by AjJi) | Reply
It can any of these. However, if you are looking to find a development job, it is best to have contributed code in the form of new features or bug fixes (with tests).

I'm not sure what you mean by "affordable" in this context.
Re: Cool (response to post by shalinmangar) | Reply
Yes, that's good suggestion as well. I contributed to couple projects myself in spare time, its really quite good experience. You start little, of course - minor fixes, minor features, etc, ideally the things which you would be yourself using continuously so that you maintain those.
Getting involved is not a problem; usually project page explains how to, where to chat with developers, etc. The developers are friendly but be reasonable - they have to watch for the longterm so they want code to be clean and of same style as the rest.
Re: Cool (response to post by prunthaban) | Reply
This could be true in some countries, but the majority don't even know Topcoder. And even when you explain it, they'll probably think you're crazy :D ( because It's hard to explain to someone "why TopCoder is important" in 10mn, unless you have a trick ? ).
Re: Cool (response to post by AjJi) | Reply
This could be true in some countries
Tell me about those countries, I'm going there :)
Re: Cool (response to post by Orange_Cloud) | Reply
I think it is better to say that it is true for some companies, rather than countries. I know that all the "big players" like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook all know about TopCoder. Probably also many other companies, especially those that have sponsored TopCoder events.
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
Whats the point in that?!?
Entertainment?
Re: Cool (response to post by vexorian) | Reply
So basically they enjoy failing people for no particular reason? Not very entertaining for me...
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
I never said they weren't mean.
Re: Cool (response to post by vexorian) | Reply
Whatever their motives are, I think it is just bad practice not to tell the interviewee why they failed, and it discourages the interviewee from applying ever again. All I ever received was a general impersonal message of the form: "We are sorry, but your current skills didn't match any of our positions. Please apply again.". This is a real slap-in-the-face, especially considering that I have spent about 3-4 weeks preparing and going through the process. It also shows that they really don't care.
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
If you tell the applicant why he/she failed, you are leaving yourself open for a lawsuit on that particular issue.

And why should a company "care" about applicants that they don't want to hire? It is not their job to improve your interviewing skills. If they have a system for judging applicants then it is in their best interest to keep it secret. They want to hire the best person, not necessarily the person best prepared for the interview. I am sure every company rejects far more people than they hire so adopting a standard impersonal rejection procedure seems to be a necessity.
Re: Cool (response to post by Rustyoldman) | Reply
And why should a company "care" about applicants that they don't want to hire?


Because those applicants will say bad things about the company, which will ruin its reputation. A bitter rejected applicant might also apply to a different, but competing company. A non-bitter rejected applicant might hone his skills and then reapply to your company. It is all about reputation.
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
I would say if the reason is explained the rejected applicant could as possibly be more bitter than less bitter, if he disagrees with that reason.
BTW, imagine you're advertising a position. You have several applicants, and it is a lot like competition - you're not guaranteed to win by doing good at interview, someone might come along who did as well or better and has longer experience in the industry. It gets tough during any shrinkage when the experienced programmers end up losing jobs, then you're competing for spots with programmers whom proven themselves and businesses are not willing to take the risk. You need to just keep trying. See how TC does it; when they need something done, they ask everyone in the huge community, and find someone willing to do the work. You're not so bad a candidate, you won't need to ask hundreds thousands companies, but you'll need to ask dozens.
Re: Cool (response to post by dimkadimon) | Reply
Seriously though, have you in your experience ever changed your view about a company's services or products based on the bad PR from people that took interviews from them? Even if you did, how many people do they interview anyway? It can't possibly affect their reputation that much as a bad product release or something like that...
Re: Cool (response to post by vexorian) | Reply
Absolutely! My view of the company went from "love" to "dislike" after this experience.
Re: Cool (response to post by mistr305) | Reply
I just got through hiring a new programmer*. He listed ICPC/TopCoder experience, and that certainly helped his resume bubble up to the top of the pile.

Obviously I'm not a representative sample of employers, but I certainly value competition experience. I think it develops strong problem solving skills and demonstrates a deeper interest in programming.

*We are no longer hiring. I am not soliciting resumes.
Re: Cool (response to post by jmzero) | Reply
If he/she was any good their resume would made it to the top of the pile with better than n^2 time complexity.
Re: Cool (response to post by mistr305) | Reply
TopCoder helped me get an internship for this summer. I got contacted by a company through TopCoder which got me my first interview there. Also during the in person interview at another company I mentioned that I did TopCoder so the interview pulled up my profile on the spot, that definitely helped. What helped me more than either of those was that a lot of questions I got asked in interviews were a lot like programming competition problems.
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