A Big Reason Managers Ask Coding Questions

Coding Test

Tip of the Day

When you’re asked a coding question, it’s important to remember that you’re not being judged by the code you write on the spot, but by the way you approach the problem. For example, depending on the job you’re applying for, using some known algorithm might be the right approach—or it might not be. What the manager really wants to see is whether you get to that algorithm.

After all, algorithms and patterns are relatively easy to find. There are libraries that implement many of them, and there are textbooks that tell you how to accomplish them in numerous languages. The hard part is knowing when it’s right to use a particular pattern or algorithm.

So you probably won’t be asked, “Can you write a Quicksort algorithm?” Rather, the question might be, “We’re doing a project involving language analysis and want to look at phrase frequency. Can you write a utility that takes a list of phrases and orders them according to how frequently they’re used?”

A good answer will probably involve using a Quicksort implementation. In this case, what the manager’s most interested in is whether you recognize that. She’s looking for things like how you structure the code, how you approach the problem and what patterns you choose to apply.

Coding questions aren’t trick questions. They’re opportunities for you to show the hiring manager how you think.

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2 Responses to “A Big Reason Managers Ask Coding Questions”

  1. With an unknown number of off-shored IT jobs and an unknown high number of much more to follow, managers won’t know how many motivated and knowledgeable people are still out there to hire from…
    I had to pass not a coding question: an entire coding written exam instead.