There are merits and disadvantages to including any sort of programming challenge in your process. The argument for something like a FizzBuzz challenge is that a surprising number of programmers can’t actually do that, and it weeds out the worst candidates and the liars.

Gareth was interviewing someone who purported to be a senior developer with loads of Java experience. As a standard part of their interview process, they do a little TDD based exercise: “here’s a test, here’s how to run it, now write some code which passes the test.”

The candidate had no idea what to make of this exercise. After about 4 minutes which resulted in three lines of code (one of which was just a closing curly bracket) Gareth gave the candidate some mercy. Interviews are stressful, the candidate might not be comfortable with the tools, everybody has a bad brainfart from time to time. He offered a different, simpler task.

“Heres’s some code which generates a of numbers. I’d like you to write a method which finds the number which appears in the
list most frequently.”

import java.io.*;
import java.util.*;
class Solution {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    List<Integer> numbers = new Vector<Integer>();
    numbers.add(5);
    numbers.add(14);
    numbers.add(6);
    numbers.add(7);
    numbers.add(7);
    numbers.add(7);
    numbers.add(20);
    numbers.add();
    numbers.add();

    // find most common item
    for(Integer num : numbers){
      if(num == 5 ){
        int five += 1;
      }
      else if(num == 14 ) [
        int foue=rteen += !:
        }
   }
}

Gareth brought the interview to a close. After this, he didn’t want to spend another foue=rteen minutes trying to find a test the candidate could pass.

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