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I was browsing through the Programmers stack exchange Q&A website yesterday and I stumbled upon a question about the fairness or unfairness of some interview questions that the candidate was asked to answer. Basically, the candidate was asked to answer questions out of his field of competence and felt cheated by the interview. In all fairness, he was a recent graduate and probably didn’t have that much experience interviewing.
In his question, he mentioned that he wanted to write the company to tell them about the unfairness of the questions. Fortunately, the Programmers community responded well and told him that this was not the right thing to do, however a few people did agree with him. Since he might not be the only one feeling that way, I decided to write a few (non-technical) things that every programmer should know when applying for a programming job.
You don’t have to answer all the questions
It’s a common trick by interviewers to ask a question that the candidate will not be able to answer. Sometimes it’s some kind of annoying “MBA” question like “Why are manhole covers round?” (here’s the answer if you really want to know), but sometimes it’s just a highly technical question that you are not expected to be able to answer. What the interviewers want to know is how you deal with problems that you don’t have the answer for, because that’s going to happen a lot in the work environment. If you get one of these questions, walk them through your thought process, tell them how you would find the information (ask a specialist, a colleague, on Stack Overflow, etc.). Sometimes they might want you to guess how many of one thing there is in a certain region (ex: how many gyms in New York). They want to know...