Wasting My Time

Giulliano Bueno
1 min readJun 30, 2015

Nowadays in job interviews it is common to have a quiz that asks the candidate to solve some problems that look simple at first but that are actually not simple at all. Some of questions are so complex that some of the best minds in the computer science field took a couple of decades to find an acceptable solution.

Even though this complexity is well known by the people responsible for formulating the interview questions, they continue thinking that the most suitable candidate for the job has to be smarter than everyone in the company and check if he still has the solution in his mind after leaving university.

In my last interview for a European company I was asked to solve a simple problem: to merge two lists. When I solved it with Ruby using the obvious join operator the interviewer asked if I was really finished, I told him that I was and he told me that he didn’t know that that feature existed and asked me to reimplement it. Obviously, I did so and used the proper data structure to solve the problem, but in my mind I thought: isn’t it unnecessary to ask someone to solve a problem that everyone already knows the most appropriate solution to?

The answer is yes and the best approach for these interviews would be small problems that can more efficiently determine the capacity of the candidate to solve them quickly and with a low complexity.