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I don't like questions. When I see those words, my finger gets itchy for the 'not a real question' radio button.

However, I'm prepared to be persuaded that my attitude is in need of adjustment, so I'm posting this question to invite people to either agree or disagree.

Why don't I like them?

  1. They are, almost by definition, artificial. They aren't a real 'programming' problem. No one is actually trying to accomplish the thing they are talking about. They might be a real 'job acquisition' problem, but, as such, they don't belong on SO.
  2. The posters very frequently mangle them beyond recognition. OK, to be exact, I can't distinguish between the possibility that there are some interviewers asking some really, really, stupid questions out there and this claim here.
  3. There seems to be a whiff of 'Help me get this job I'm not qualified for.' about the business.

What do others think about this?

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closed as off-topic by Undo, Martijn Pieters, Shadow Wizard, 3ventic, ɥʇǝS Jun 30 at 2:11

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Your attitude is just fine –  random Jan 10 '11 at 0:37
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3 Answers 3

As I understand it, interview questions are usually asked on SO after they have been asked on the interview. And they are useful for both the asking person and others. They are not that artificial, and even when they are, they are also a good help for extending your knowledge. Maybe interview questions should be (automatically?) moved to http://programmers.stackexchange.com/ .

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If they're technical programming questions they should stay on SO. +1 for the rest of your answer. –  Lance Roberts Jan 10 '11 at 1:27
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You mean to say that people really ask these questions as part of a job interview? Maybe that's the root problem... –  Kevin Vermeer Jul 18 '11 at 5:48
    
@Kevin people tend to ask many types of questions, some of them being non-sense. For example, such questions are asked to see how the candidate is capable of dealing with non-sense. –  Eugene Mayevski 'EldoS Corp Jul 18 '11 at 12:07
    
@Kevin - Such questions are VERY applicable to interviews. You can't present interviewees with real-world programming problems characteristic of your company's needs because there's probably a lot of domain knowledge you'd have to first communicate to the interviewee before asking how they'd solve it. Even after communicating it, they haven't necessarily had enough time to "grok" it when you ask them to start solving the problem. "Interview questions" present a problem devoid of domain knowledge requirements & small enough to solve in the short amount of time available in an interview. –  phonetagger Dec 2 '12 at 19:35
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I would say it depends on the question. In your mind, delete every reference to "interview"; pretend that it's an actual question that was never asked in any interview.

Is it a good question? Yes: Keep it. No: Close it.

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I think some interview questions are very useful. They typically are focused on either a neat trick or how to best solve a problem. Assuming the asker does not butcher up the questions (as you mentioned), these types of questions are good for answerers because all the relevant details are actually included. For me, I like them because they are no the standard "My code does not compile, here is one unrelated line, why is this?".

I do think the concern that I don't want to "help someone get a job they are not qualified" is legit. However, you can't tell from a question if that is the case or if the person is generally trying to learn. Plus it is doubtful that this person will get a job because the memorize a specific interview question but there is good change that by you answering it, many people can learn.

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