Ryan Bigg

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On coding tests

27 Jul 2021

As you might know, I’ve been job hunting recently. I’m at the part of this step for some companies where we’ve had our initial conversation and now they want me to do a coding test.

But that’s okay, because it “should only take up to 3 hours to do”. Now let’s theoretically say that I’m talking with 5 companies now. That’s 15 hours of my time, that I have to pull out of work, life or sleep, to do these coding tests. All to prove to them that I can code!

This strikes me as odd because I’m pretty sure I can code.

I’ve been employed as a developer in one way or another since 2004. That’s 17 years! I’ve had to pass other coding tests in the past to get some of those jobs. I had a lot more free time in my youth and wasn’t such a crotchety old man like I am now.

I’ve written books where I try to teach other people how to code. If I don’t know how to code, how could I teach other people to code? Mystery!

I’ve recently released a 6-part screencast series where I demonstrate my ability to code in not one, but THREE different languages AT THE SAME TIME! I’m clearly not a 10x developer. Maybe a 3x developer?

I’ve even made the codebase from that screencast series completely open source.

I’m also responsible for maintaining the 12th-most-downloaded Ruby Gem – i18n. Yeah, this is code that I’ve (unlikely) written or (likely) vetted & approved that’s probably running in your Rails application right now.

But no, these things don’t count for anything in the interview process. Maybe I’ve gone too far down the path of tying my self-worth up in these things. The way I feel is: if you don’t value these things I’ve already done, then you do not value me.

I can read the replies now:

but how do we know that you really know how to code, according to our 100% bias-free baseline?

We have subjected our other developers to this antiquated hazing ritual so why shouldn’t we subject you to the same?

Fact is, you don’t. Some people can code really well in interviews and have had lots of practice answering how exactly you go about reversing a purple linked list uphill both ways in the snow. Some people struggle with the pressure of developing something completely solo and then having that scruitinised in an hour-long live-code-review session.

I’m personally done with being hazed in this way. You know I can code. I have proven this with my long tenure in this industry and the stuff I’ve put out in the world.

Let’s just get down to business. I’ll happily trade labour for dollars. Hold the haze. Use the books, code and screencast I’ve already put out in order to judge my abilities.