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I have read in a few places that publishing programming problems/puzzles/exercises from interviews is not nice with the company, but I have recently had a few interviews where I faced some interesting problems I really wanted to discuss with those who could have solved them better.

Do you think that is fine if I don't copy-paste these exercises but try to "make my own version", for example rewriting it a bit so the whole point will be the same but in another format? Also if I didn't mention the company itself, not even the fact the problem was asked on an interview, would it still be a bad thing to do?

Thanks in advance!

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 6 '11 at 0:42

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Companies like to challenge the candidates on the interviews, but with having heard about a problem makes it much-much easier to solve, that's why I thought to ask. –  Aston Jul 5 '11 at 20:35
I do believe this is a valid question to ask. Honestly, I'm excited to hear about what questions you wanted to talk about. I love hearing about interview questions. Nonetheless, I think this belongs on programmers instead of SO. –  Corey Ogburn Jul 5 '11 at 20:38
I was in a similar situation recently, interviewing with a large social networking site (no, not that one). I decided to simply ask the company it would be OK for me to publish one of the problems and the solution on my website. They agreed. I think it's just common courtesy to check with them first. –  Mike Jul 6 '11 at 1:41

6 Answers 6

Yeah, its fine. Its not like they've got intellectual property rights to basic coding problems.

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I'd agree that as long as you present the problem using your own example wording/coding its different to copying their test down and publishing it. After all, if you had spent money devising tests for programmers, and someone published it, and so in effect people had all the time in the world, and great answers were formed and people could do the search of "Programming test, company x" and find all the answers, Id be mad from a company perspective too.

However, I have to confess the best tests I sat were written papers not on a computer, so you couldnt compile and check your code, no help files, google, no command completion, you had to demonstrate fundemental understanding and sure, I would be safe to say, I had errors in my code, but, every coding test I've taken I got very high scores, I do think there are some simple but great puzzles to solve for interviews and maybe if you collected a bunch together you could even sell some of them to companies for ideas for their coding tests.

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I'm going to quote Peter van der Linden here:

There's no harm in revealing these "secrets"—the kind of person who reads this book probably already knows enough to be hired by a good software company...part of what you look for when you interview people is not just what they respond with, but how they respond. - "Expert C Programming, Deep C Secrets"

The kind of person who makes it to page 278 of a book called "Expert C Programming" is probably not going to be stunned by any programming puzzle.

If you're writing puzzles on a blog or a discussion board, consider your audience. The average programmer doesn't go on stackoverflow unless they need help. If people regularly read/reply on a technical board, they must have some deeper interest in the area, and thus are the audience that you're looking for.

Furthermore, companies want to see how you think and not just see if you can find the answer. I'm sure we've all heard of the "Thinking of a number between 1 and 1000," but in an interview, if someone asks you "...between 1 and 500" and you know what binary search is so you solve it, nobody is going to tell you "woah, hold up, have you heard of the 1,000 variation before?"

Discuss away :)

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Absolutely it is fine. I wouldn't mention the company name, though. That way anybody trying to do the search-engine-trick the night before and interview won't really get much out of you.

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+1 -- I think this is the most important part: not to mention the name of the company. It's rude to the people who interviewed you, as it forces them to research new interview questions. –  flodel Oct 31 '12 at 1:04

I know that some companies put you under NDA for the interviewing process and any posting of the questions would break that contract, plus they probably ask you to not taint the process by releasing their methods so that's definitely "not nice."

Therefore I recommend that you pay attention to what you signed and be cautious to not plagiarize.

Other than the legal aspect I don't think that it's a question of being nice or that there's any moral twist.

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Yeah if I signed an NDA there would be no question regarding what I can and I cannot do, I'm asking this simply from a moral perspective. Thanks anyway. –  Aston Jul 6 '11 at 9:56

If the problems are interesting and other people could learn a trick or two from them then you should definitely publish the problem and present your solution to it.

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