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I have taken some C and C++ interviews in India and I must say I am quite disappointed by the kind of questions Indian interviewers ask. They expect black-n-white answers to questions and wont accept any middle ground. They try to confuse you for even simple questions, unnecessarily trying to complicate simple concepts. I also fail to understand how they will judge someone as a good or bad programmer based on such questions.

On top I have had argument with atleast 3 interviewers because they asked me a question and then themselves were giving wrong answers to their own questions. Here are few samples of some really bad questions:

  • "What is p in the following C statement: int const* p". The interviewer was hell bent on proving that p was a constant pointer to integer (you can clearly see its pointer to a const integer). I explained the difference but she wouldn't budge unless I explained her all possible expressions.
  • Another guy asked if a pointer should be checked for NULL before deleting it. I told him that C++ standard guarantees that nothing wrong will happen on deleting a NULL pointer. He argued that its a standard coding practice to check for NULL and that C++ compilers are not reliable (in following c++ standard).
  • Another guy asked me a question and then asked whether run-time error will occur or compile-time error. I argued that why would anyone write a code like that and I personally wouldn't write code like that. But he insisted that I choose between runtime or compile-time error.
  • Another guy started asking me how to read command line parameters. I explained him that libC provides convenient faciltity to handle command line parameters. But this guy was hell bent in asking me the syntax of the library facilities. I told him to check libC manual and that it is impossible to remember the API details.
  • Another guy asked me what will happen if for a singleton class, I remove the static qualifier for the instance pointer and instead just used a member variable which is a pointer to class. I said static getInstance method will throw error because static member functions cannot manipulate non-static member variables(in this case the instance pointer). He kept on insisting that I was wrong and that everything will work fine and kept pestering me to explain how. I didn't agree.
  • A classic ridiculous question Indian interviewers ask is on sequence points where they would throw obscure expressions at you (p += ++p * p-- ;) which a programmer will never write and for which behavior is undefined and on top they expect you to come up with perfect answers.

Has anybody had similar interviewing experiences where you ran into argument with interviewer or were faced with ridiculous questions. Please share

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closed as off-topic by Robert Harvey, DeadMG, Eric King, gbjbaanb, Corbin March Aug 12 '13 at 22:31

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

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Reminds me of programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/206840/… that while these are technical questions, it is similar to have the interview go off on a tangent. –  JB King Aug 12 '13 at 21:49
That behaviour is a cultural thing. It's what they do because they don't know themselves or they learned by rote (possibly from someone they didn't fully understand.) If it's reworded to ask a question about why they do that, or what do they think they're gaining then it could be a fit for workplace.se? –  James Snell Aug 12 '13 at 22:12
Your examples are C++ but the core question is not. –  DeadMG Aug 12 '13 at 22:13
You seem bitter. –  Etienne de Martel Aug 12 '13 at 22:18
This isn't really the place for "share your experiences" questions. Try Reddit, or Quora. –  Robert Harvey Aug 12 '13 at 22:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I don't know the answers to all of those questions, and I think you probably have a better knowledge of c/c++ syntax than me, but if I were your interviewer, I wouldn't be impressed with those answers. It sounds like you were trying to show off and make yourself sound superior, rather than display your knowledge.

Some of these questions are good opportunities to show off how you can educate a misinformed colleague without making him feel stupid or angry. If you happen to be wrong about one of them, it would be an opportunity to show off how you can gracefully accept criticism. Both of these skills are more valuable than knowing the answers to these particular questions off the top of your head. There were also some opportunities to have written a short bit of code that proved you right (or wrong), or else to look up the answers.

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I love this answer! Interview questions are about your communication skills as much as (if not more than) your technical expertise. –  reinierpost Aug 13 '13 at 8:04
Appreciate your answer. Thanks for identifying the mistake in my approach to such situations. I will try and correct it. Most interview questions go smoothly. Its only that when you are faced with questions where you differ that you have to deal with issue of how to convince the interviewer without sounding superior. I generally try to discuss rather than argue, but not all interviewers conduct interview like that. One of the interviewers did accepted his mistake, but not all interviewers act so humbly. That said, as one of the comments said its a cultural thing and I have to deal with it. –  nurabha Aug 13 '13 at 15:32
@nurabha If, after attempting friendly discussion, neither "Let's agree to differ" or "Let's check this in a compiler later" are enough to end the conversation, it is time to start thinking about how much you really wanted the job. –  dcorking Mar 19 at 14:55

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