Programming interview questions can feel unnecessarily difficult. Sometimes they actually are, a new study has found. And this isn’t just because they make interviews excessively stressful. The study shows that harder programming questions actually do a worse job of predicting final outcomes than easier ones. From the study: Programming under time pressure is difficult. This is especially true during interviews. A coding exercise that would seem simple under normal circumstances somehow becomes a formidable challenge under the bright lights of an interview room. Stress hormones cloud your thinking during interviews (even though, sadly, neither fight nor flight is an effective response to a menacing programming problem). And it can almost feel like the questions are designed to be perversely difficult. I actually think this is more than just a feeling. Interview questions are designed to be hard. Because the cost of hiring a bad engineer is so much higher than the cost of rejecting a good engineer, companies are incentivized to set a high bar. And for most companies that means asking hard questions. Intuitively this makes sense because harder questions seem like they should result in a more rigorous screening process. But intuition turns out to be a poor guide here. Our data shows that harder questions are actually less predictive than relatively easy ones. Further reading: Programmers Are Confessing Their Coding Sins To Protest a Broken Job Interview Process.
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