Top critical review
Perpetuates the insanity of programmer interviews. Resist if you can.
July 23, 2017
As programming interview prep books go, this one is currently the most popular of the bunch. It's OK, in that you'll find material to practice for the whiteboard interviews that are prevalent at big tech companies. But let's be honest: this whole ecosystem is toxic. Here's a lady who worked for a few years at Google (that's right -- she worked for a *few* years, and only interned at those other big names she mentioned), and has parlayed that rather limited work experience into an entire lifestyle business, where she coaches programmers on how to pass interviews. That should tell you something important: the interview-prep industry has completely decoupled itself from the actual job of programming!
I've been writing software for a long time, and I'm competent at my job. I've worked at some well-known companies, and I've interviewed a LOT of people. But I'm here to tell you that even I can't pass one of these interviews without studying. That's a bad thing. If the goal of an interview is to identify competent programmers, we've gone far, far off the rails with these kinds of interviews.
But of course, that isn't (entirely) the author's fault. She's just a cog in the machine, and profits by perpetuating it. Because the presence of books like these create a vicious cycle: prep book gets written; interviewees study/memorize answers; interviewers make questions "harder" to compensate; new book gets written! It never ends. The grinder continues to turn, and whereas ten years ago you could get a good job with some string or linked-list manipulation questions, now you've got people who consider whiteboard coding of topcoder elite questions to be the baseline measurement of programmer competency. That's nuts.
You'll even run into lazy interviewers who take questions directly from this book, which is the ultimate in stupidity: if "good" candidates have prepared from the book, and you ask questions directly from the book, what are you really accomplishing, other than a test of memorization skills? And yet, this is distressingly common. I've seen it myself. I've had recruiters from major tech companies send me pages from this book so that I can "prepare" for their interviews. What now?
This kind of crap only stops if the more senior amongst us simply *refuse* to do it anymore. New grads have no leverage, so it's up to the rest of us to stand up and demand change. If you work at a company, please, INSIST that your interview process avoid questions from this book. If you interview programmers, please, stick to questions that demonstrate actual day-to-day work competency. And yes, if you're interviewing and you have the leverage, stand up to companies that try to abuse you with this kind of demeaning nonsense.
If we are to be professionals, we have to demand the career respect afforded to professionals. That includes not being treated like children when we are interviewed.