My short bio: I am mostly a software engineer, but I've also done project management, worked at bootcamps to grade students' work, give them mock interviews and teach them how to interview. I currently work with multiple agencies in which I give technical or behavioral interviews to candidates and evaluate whether they'd be a good fit for my clients' positions.

EDIT: I've submitted additional proof to the mods at 11PM CST

Comments: 526 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

aqg10186 karma

What is something that is done by most candidates that is a complete deterrent in getting them hired? Also, in your opinion, what is the most common misconceptions candidates have about hiring managers?

CriticDanger384 karma

1- When they are asked a question they don't know the answer to, and they respond "I didn't learn that, we don't use that at work, only in school" instead of "I don't know"

2- Most hiring managers are actually more interested in soft skills, professionalism and attitude than they are technical skills. Even if they are giving you a technical interview, they are evaluating soft skills more (the way you answer, how you act when you don't know the answer, etc.)

Calmdownplease201 karma

On point 2 you are spot on. Technical skill is a barrier to entry but once a candidate hits a baseline it’s all about personality and attitude. Very technical people often disregard the latter or believe lots of the former can cover for deficiencies in the latter.

Source: I hire technical people

CriticDanger99 karma

In the companies I work for, they have a minimum standard for communication/attitude. They would refuse a 100x coder if those things were subpar. The reason is the coder will need to interact with customers and the company has to protect its reputation.

tossme6862 karma

I agree that soft skills are a top priority but some people just have crummy people skills and still make good employees. I have a few guys on my team that are excellent technicians and they are fine people-wise if they know you and it's one on one. They are horrible in front of a customer and they know it but on the back end they are better than most. The simple solution was to not make them leads and let others handle the customer, then I can tell them what needs to be done and they are good. In addition these guys are probably some of our happiest employees, they don't want a promotion they like what they do and are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to changes in technology. I don't want an entire team of people like this but there certainly is room for this type of worker.

CriticDanger16 karma

I agree. Its just the specific roles I hire for are client facing.

Blender_Render67 karma

I’m always a fan of people that are willing to say, “I don’t know”, instead of giving me a list of excuses as to why they don’t know, because 99 times out of 100 I don’t care why you don’t know.

In interviews, “I don’t know” needs to be followed up with something like, “…but if that was something I was tasked with figuring out, I would take ownership of the problem, research it to the best of my ability, ask for assistance from my team if needed, and develop an appropriate solution.” A single answer like that isn’t too alarming, but more than one situation like that begins throwing up red flags.

Outside of interviews, if that statement comes from one of my workers it usually needs to be followed up with, something like, “…but let me look into it and see if I can figure it out.”, or “…do you want me to look into it and get back with you?”, or “…Do you need me to look into that? Is that my new priority?”

CriticDanger38 karma

Correct. When someone is testing your knowledge, "I don't know" is great. If someone is asking you for something because they need knowledge or help, then "I'll find out" is perfect!

cutelyaware32 karma

Most times I've been interviewed it's by someone who doesn't want to be doing it. When I tell them I don't know something, I get the feeling that it's a minus for them. The best technique I've found is to wait until they ask I have any questions for them and I ask some more polite version of "Why should I want to work here?" Maybe just "What do you like best about your work?" Then I just sit back and really listen. The better the job the more they'll try to sell me. And once they're trying to sell me, I pretty much assume they want me.

CriticDanger48 karma

Most interviewers aren't really interviewers (they're devs forced to interview, but they really just want to go back to coding), sometimes they don't even really care.

Another issue is...bias is a HUGE problem in interviews, in the vast majority of interviews you've had, the interviewer decided if you passed within the first 5 minutes (and I'm being generous), and they're just passing time with the rest of the interview.

To be a good interviewer you need to fight your own biases constantly and stay as objective as possible, with objective metrics. As I'm sure you know, most don't do that.

cutelyaware10 karma

I agree with everything you say, including about biases, but I don't understand your point. Everything you describe are things that candidates should at least be aware of. When a candidate myself, if I can't get the interviewer to show some interest in what they're doing, then I likely don't want to work there.

CriticDanger5 karma

There's not much you can do about an unenthusiastic interviewer unfortunately, you could email someone else in the hiring process, but companies typically don't believe candidates much.

RubikTetris5 karma

Regarding point 1, what do you propose they say instead? I think it's prefectly fine and understandable that someone doesn't know everything related to programming. I think these answers are much better than bullshitting.

CriticDanger6 karma

Its fine if they say they dont know.

RubikTetris6 karma

That’s so petty, there’s litterally no difference. God I hate corporate IT this is the exact kind of bullshit that made me go the entrepreneurial way in programming.

I wish you could explain exactly what is wrong with these answers.

CriticDanger20 karma

The difference is whether they're defensive about it (hurt ego) vs accepting that they don't know everything.

erisod71 karma

What's your favorite programming interview question?

CriticDanger39 karma


SuperSneakyPickle7 karma

Can you give us a few other interview questions that you've asked before?

CriticDanger24 karma

"What are the main reasons to do code reviews?"

"Would you use version control on a solo project? Why?"

"What are the first things to look at to improve the performance of a slow query?"

reverendsteveii13 karma

so the whole team is sure they can understand at least the broad strokes of what I did because anyone could end up using or altering that code later

Yes, to bookmark feature adds, refactors and release candidates

indexing and am I pulling only the data I need for this operation

When can I start?

CriticDanger12 karma

Send me your resume, you never know ;)

wardevour2 karma

I can't imagine not using version control anymore. I don't even start a game of dwarf fortress without initializing a git repo

CriticDanger2 karma

That's hilarious. Now I'm imagining a hiring manager checking out a github's profile and being impressed by the activity, then see a bunch of DF saves.

-TheTrash-66 karma

Hey! Which questions would be a must to ask an employer before taking the job or during the interview? and for a potential employee?

CriticDanger134 karma

There are a ton, here's one I can think of:

"What are the most important attributes a candidate needs to have for this position? What do you value the most?"

Maybe also:

"What worries you the most about me for this position?"

Then you can answer why that you're not that bad at that thing.

lovelove4968 karma

I have heard counter arguments about that second one as it leaves the interviewer thinking poorly about the candidate once the interview is over and focuses on the negative. Why do you like it?

CriticDanger19 karma

That's a good point. If you don't have a good rebuttal, then that could definitely happen. If you're confident on being able to give a good answer to it, go for it, if not, /u/NOODL3 's alternative question would be a safer bet.

Puzzleheaded-Buy-68762 karma


How often do you interview candidates who have no background in Computer Science and IT and are self taught developers? how often do such people meet the expectations?

Thanks for answering.

CriticDanger56 karma

Pretty often. Their abilities vary widely, some of them are actually extremely good. Some of them also have very little knowledge of course. I would say the range is wider for self-taught people.

quickdraw690613 karma

What percentage of positions you screen for accept self-taught candidates, and what percent of positions where the job descriptions states a requirement of a degree (w/o stating "or equivalent experience") would in fact consider an un-credentialed autodidact?

CriticDanger10 karma

Well, 100% of my positions accept self-taught developers. A degree is seen as a bonus.

TestingSubject2 karma

Hello! I was wondering if it is better to list an unrelated degree or just not list my degree on the resume for these kind of tech-oriented positions?

CriticDanger5 karma

A degree is always better than none.

hipster_deckard43 karma

How would you react to the fact that Behavioral Interviewing is a pseudoscience, unsupported by empirical evidence?

We need to start embracing evidence-based HR.

CriticDanger19 karma

I actually agree with your link. The questions I ask are not really the same, they're more things like:

"What are the biggest impacts you’ve had on your last engagement?"

"As this is a remote position, communication is very important, could you give me some examples of when you were a great communicator?"

"What about conflicts, have you ever had a conflict at work? What happened, and how did you handle it?"

No weird questionnaire or anything like that.

BestPseudonym5 karma

How is somebody expected to respond about things like “conflict in the workplace” when nothing comes to mind? I feel like I’m being punished for having no conflicts to talk about. Things are pretty smooth for me. Seems to me that I’m just expected to make up some scenario to brag about how good I am at communicating and it’s exhausting.

CriticDanger7 karma

How many years of experience do you have?

BestPseudonym3 karma

About three and a half years.

Maybe I’m just over analyzing what a “conflict” is? I really cannot come up with a scenario where I’ve felt there was a conflict. And then I worry that interviewers will infer that there have been conflicts and I’m oblivious or something.

CriticDanger3 karma

I'd say it's rare to have had nothing happen in 3.5 years, but it can happen. In that case I'd ask about personal conflicts potentially. I've honestly never had a candidate tell me they had no example, but the candidates I interview have at least 5 years of experience.

BestPseudonym3 karma

I understand the need to probe interviewees this way but man I dislike the canned questions. My best interviews have been ones where the interviewer just had a conversation with me.

I know your goal is not to make the interviewee comfortable but, as a former and future interviewee, I highly recommend that approach it you can make it work. Get the answers to your questions in a less quiz-like way. I think you’ll learn more about a person through conversation than through canned questions. I know that for me, if I’m comfortable I’m just going to give you the honest answer instead of the one I prepared by looking up “common behavioral interview questions”.

Not that I’m an expert about interviewing but I felt the need to ramble, I guess :)

CriticDanger3 karma

What questions would you ask then?

epl142 karma

I was a developer/manager for 35 years at one retailer, retired, and am about to interview for a part-time contract developer position at another retailer. What advice do you have for me?

CriticDanger41 karma

If you've been in the field so long, I'm sure you'll do fine. Make sure you're ready to answer specific questions about the tech stack the position uses, and refresh your knowledge of fundamentals (big o, algorithms etc.) These are rare questions for contracts but they can still happen!

tripodeye28 karma

Best career seeking advice for someone who graduated without any internships or stellar side projects?

CriticDanger65 karma

Honestly, get some side projects going. You can make a simple, somewhat useful side-project in a couple days of work. If you spend a week or two making a few of those, and you get a better job as a result than if you didn't, your future self might end up 2x as wealthy due to those few weeks you spent. Why? Career growth compounds, especially early on, getting a good early start accelerates your career.

NullRad5 karma

Lol, I was passed up for a position at TriVaGo in 2014 because I didn’t have any “public facing” git projects.

The interviewing dev said “You should expose some of your projects. You would be a great addition, but we are looking for people who contribute to communities.”

I literally laughed at him, flew back to Köln, and accepted a position 25 minutes away from my flat. Bullet dodged.

CriticDanger9 karma

You probably dodged a bullet, fuck Trivago, there was a time every thread on Reddit mentioned it as some lame ass meme without realizing they were promoting the company. I can't stand it since then lol

Frajer22 karma

What do you recommend for getting an entry level job/getting their foot into the field?

CriticDanger24 karma

Start coding for fun and find a project to work on. Try to build a real project, something that could be useful to someone, maybe something that you can monetize, having real projects with users can be very attractive to potential employers.

If you still enjoy coding at that point start applying to jobs and see how many interviews you get, if you get very few interviews, get someone in the field to review your resume/portfolio.

reilly300022 karma

I’m a competent and versatile developer, and have generally done really well in interviews and on take home projects but completely botched my first two technical interviews. Right now I’m working through Cracking the Coding Interview. Is there anything else I should be doing to practice or prep? I have a couple interviews this week and feel like I’m still woefully underprepared for a white boarding session. Mostly I experienced blank brain syndrome, where I couldn’t really focus on the problem or remember basic syntax.

CriticDanger13 karma

What helps the most for that is practice honestly, you just have to keep practicing.

Also keep in mind the soft skills during whiteboard interviews, you want to always be describing your thought process, ask the right questions to the interviewer, etc.

love_idol21 karma

I am currently a Computer Science student. What would be your advice to get hired for a position in a company in the future?

CriticDanger28 karma

My advice: Learn to ask the right questions. The more specific the question you ask, the more valuable the answer you will get. Here's an example to replace yours:

"I'm a CS student living in X country and interested in working in (big/small) (tech/nontech) companies, what advice would you have for me to obtain a position?

Foursmallhats18 karma

I currently work in career services at a small university. I do all of the mock interviews in our office with students, where I go through common interview questions and give them advice on how to answer them. I also serve on search committees for the campus pretty often. I LOVE doing both mock interviews and interviewing folks, but those are both pretty small parts of my job. Your job sounds like a dream for me. I had no idea this was even a thing! How can I do what you do? Is this a common job that I have just never heard of, or is it pretty niche? What sort of job titles would I look for if I wanted to apply to positions like that?

CriticDanger3 karma

I think its not a common job at all. I didn't apply for it, I was contacted.

TADodger13 karma

Why are interviews conducted *SO* badly?

CriticDanger2 karma

Knowing if a developer is good or not is extremely hard, there are so many skills needed, and we don't really have any research that proves the best way to interview candidates.

Kejjden9 karma

Where are you even finding coders to interview?

CriticDanger4 karma

I don't look for them myself generally, someone else does that, but I do refer senior engineers to the companies I work for sometimes. Either friends or people who contact me for interview training but whom have the right skillset for these positions.

barricuda6 karma

Do you ask different questions or look for different skills or qualities between graduates of 4-year degrees vs bootcampers vs self-taught? How do you tailor your interview process between the three types of education?

CriticDanger7 karma

I might ask more fundamentals questions to people with a 4 year degree. Someone who did a bootcamp might understandably not know all those answers, but if someone with a degree doesn't know these, it is a red flag.

Forke5 karma

What tech stack would you recommend upcoming graduates learn in terms of just being the most hireable?

CriticDanger6 karma

Front-end devs with React seem to be in huge demand for some reason, node.js too, and Python seems to be making a comeback for traditional software role.

Arandmoor2 karma

and Python seems to be making a comeback for traditional software role.

It's because python is incredibly well developed and mature for distributed processing and rapid prototyping, so it's a very strong sell for development on contanerized applications.

It also helps that it's one of the go-to languages for machine learning and other AI solutions.

CriticDanger2 karma

I'm definitely rooting for Python. It was mostly used by academics a few years ago but it's finally picking up for a lot of other things.

Mariko23344 karma

As someone who doesn’t have a degree in development (got a BS in mechanical engineering), but is interested in getting into the field, do you feel as though I can still be a competitive applicant? Also, what can I do to make myself a strong applicant when missing the degree?

CriticDanger7 karma

Once you have multiple years of experience your degree type will matter a lot less. It matters at the start, but an engineering degree is a good one to get in the field too. Just ensure you have a good github with side projects and learn the fundamentals, and practice algorithm questions.

caks4 karma

Thanks for the AMA very informative. I am a STEM PhD with 4 years or research experience in my field (designing and implementing algorithms and methods in physics) looking to transition to an ML role. I have limited experience in ML but have a very solid understanding of the theory. Unfortunately due to my contract I find it very hard to have ML side projects, but I am decent at using TF/PyTorch. I have been able to get a couple of interviews for ML roles but still no offer.

My question is: what should be my main strategy during interviews? Rather, I know I should be showing them I am fully versed in ML but I am not entirely sure how to do that without their prompt.

Is there anything I can ask/say that will allay their concerns about my background?

CriticDanger2 karma

The interviewers should ideally be asking you without you having to bring it up. But sometimes they just don't. In that case, you could try to bring it up somehow, maybe at the question stage, you could ask them "Do you have a concern about my skills in X? Could I describe a project I did using that skill?"

Onlyhereforthelaughs3 karma

I heard a resume tip a while back that you can insert keywords that would be looked for in a candidate search, and hide them using white text. (So, in-between the lines of your resume.)

Would/does this work, and have you ever seen it used?

CriticDanger6 karma

It works for crappy companies who filter candidates by how many keywords they have. But, is that where you want to work?

JethroFire3 karma

Is it appropriate to ask about salary?

CriticDanger0 karma

Depends, ideally you want to wait until you get the offer, but if the interview process is really long I'd generally ask for a range early in the process as I don't want to go though 4 interviews just to reject the job due to low salary.

trabbaro3 karma

What kind of money does tech interviewing pay?

CriticDanger4 karma

Nothing crazy, about the same hourly rate a good freelancer dev would make coding, but you can't really interview 8h/day, your head would explode.

trabbaro6 karma

> you can't really interview 8h/day, your head would explode

I know. I've tried.

"Hey, we're doing an interview event. We need you to interview 4 people in a row, take a one hour break, then interview 4 more."

I pity the last guy because I was not functionally there.

CriticDanger10 karma

The opposite is horrible too. I interviewed 8h for Amazon. At lunch time I asked if I can eat and they looked at me as if I had 2 heads. They continued to interview me as I was eating lunch. Crazy

trabbaro7 karma

For what role? And when?

Interviews for devs at Amazon, today at least, are 4 1-hour interviews with a break in the middle (typically). It's all remote so the candidate is at home. There have been huge changes made in the last 5 years to improve candidate experience.

INTERVIEWER experience on the other hand, well that's not improved much, lol

CriticDanger8 karma

That was 10 years ago in Vancouver. I sure hope that's improved since!

AggTx193 karma

What are your thoughts on the leetcode style of interviewing used at FAANG and basically every other tech company?

CriticDanger3 karma

I think they focus way too much on one skill that is basically the result of grinding incessantly. I think it's fine as one part of the interview process but it shouldn't be the main focus.

robertbieber2 karma

I think it's fine as one part of the interview process

That's exactly how they use it though. It's not like you figure out a O(n) algorithm for some obscure problem and they just hand you a job

CriticDanger2 karma

I haven't interviewed with Big Tech in a while but when I did every technical interview was an algorithmic problem on a whiteboard, except for maybe 1 with the hiring manager. They really didn't ask me much about my experience, how I'd model a database, OOP or any of that. This was with Amazon, FB and Google.

robertbieber3 karma

Were you a new grad at the time? They don't generally ask systems design questions at that level because it turns out new grads don't have a ton of experience and you're mostly hiring for potential at that stage. At higher levels, it's going to be a key component of the interviews

CriticDanger2 karma

Yes I was a new grad, that was over 10 years ago.

KindaAlwaysVibrating3 karma

How often have you given a candidate a thumbs up even though they weren't able to come up with a solution to a coding question?

CriticDanger7 karma

Very often, personally I don't value leetcode mastery that much, I'm more interested in the candidate being able to explain concepts.

IAmAModBot2 karma


CriticDanger3 karma

I've sent additional proof through the link provided.

prophet0012 karma

So is it like a side-hustle thing for you, and does it make as much as moonlighting as an engineer would?

CriticDanger4 karma

The hourly rate is good but you can't really do it 8h a day, it does get exhausting.

lgamble09292 karma

I've just completed an amazing coding boot camp and am applying for jobs. I also understand that I am not the smartest person in a room of developers. I am going to flop in interviews where they ask me to code and solve problems because It will either take me FOREVER to figure it out, or I will get super flustered and miraculously forget. My question is:

How do I prove to these people that I am worth the investment?

I work hard and I will eventually figure out any problem put in front of me. I may not be able to tell you how to fix the issue right NOW, but I will tomorrow!


CriticDanger3 karma

I worked at a bootcamp and a ton of our students got placed into good jobs.

Just keep practicing, try doing mock interviews with peers, keep solving problems.

Phealael1 karma

Any advice for someone who has been programming for ten years, has strong full stack technical ability and excellent soft skills along with experience managing/mentoring teams both large and small and is just completely and utterly sick of it? I can't find a single posting I'd be interested in and I can't imagine how I'll succeed in an interview process for a job I genuinely don't want without lying and I refuse to do that.

CriticDanger1 karma

Are you sick of other things in life too, or just programming specifically?

One thing you could do is pivot to a non-programming role in the tech industry.

Phealael1 karma

Totally fair question but what I'm sick of is agency life specifically and the thanklessness/inadequate pay for leadership positions and alternatively the unfair time constraints and cluelessness associated with scoping work out. Every agency I've been at has lied about future potential and utilized manipulative tactics to move goal posts on expectations and never meet the requirements I have as someone just starting out with a family.

CriticDanger1 karma

Oh dude, agencies are a nightmare, you're not supposed to stay there more than a few years after college lol. Get the hell out of those :P

estranho1 karma


CriticDanger2 karma

Usually those will have specific communities where they hang out, maybe a language-specific job board or a forum where you can advertise.

Or, just make the job fully remote, you'll be inundated if you post on a few remote job boards.