I was reading Joel on Software earlier today where he lamenting the fact that many programmers lately don't know how to use functional programming, recursion, or pointers.

However, in the same article, he pointed out that these concepts are not used in many programming jobs.

He discusses several exam questions that he faced in college. It occurred to me that it would be useful if StackOverflow Careers had some sort of process for distinguishing between people of who different skillsets within the topics covered on StackOverflow.

I know that I'm already identified as a top NN% poster on a few topics, but I've been wondering if it might be useful if some sort of battery of tests could be used by StackOverflow Careers candidates to distinguish their knowledge. One of the most frustrating things I've encountered from recruiters is being asked to take a test that is used only by that specific recruiter. If there were some test that I could take to illustrate my competence on StackOverflow Careers, that might be a worthwhile endeavor.

Allow me to point out the fact that many of the questions a candidate for a job would be expected to be able answer have already been answered several times over on StackOverflow; and thus a candidate couldn't prove his competence by answering the question on StackOverflow again to earn a badge, but it would be useful for an employer to know that candidate X is able to answer such questions.

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    There are a lot of ways to implement something like this. Can you think of one that is fair, useful and least corruptable? Also, do you think there are more effective ways to stand out in order to get the interview, leaving the proving you're smart part for the interviewers to decide on their own? Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


Arguably, it's already been done. From your Careers profile, a recruiter can click on your SO account link, and see if you've got what it takes. I'm not sure if adding artificial tests is going to add anything to what's already there, to be honest.

I mean, if I'm applying for a job in (say) Java, and my CV says "Java expert", but all my questions and answers are in .NET, doesn't that already tell the recruiter enough?

(Or maybe I'm not understanding you correctly)

  • I have never had an encounter with a recruiter, but how many of them know to check the "knows functional programming" box if they see that the candidate has lots of great Haskell answers?
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 11:08
  • @balpha, perhaps naively, I presumed that the recruiters who were up-to-date enough to know that careers even existed would also get their list of keywords right :)
    – Benjol
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 11:32

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