Killer Interview Question: Can You Code With One Hand And Draw With The Other?

Another addition to the killer interview questions collection: Can you code with one hand and draw with the other?

Sketching picture from Shutterstock

Yes, that sounds donkey dung insane, but it actually happened. Harshal Chaudhari was interviewing for a software developer position and was asked to solve a coding challenge -- reversing a linked list -- by writing the relevant code with his right (dominant) hand while also drawing a tree with his right hand.

Some interview questions are so weird that the only sensible response is to say "No", or at least to ask how this could possibly be relevant. This feels like one of them,

How would you answer the question?

The 17 Most Bizarre Tech Company Interviews Ever [Business Insider]


Comments

    My response - draw the tree with your left hand first, then do the coding with your right second. They didn't say anything about what order? or at the same time / concurrently? Neither job will be done as well or as timely, if you have to constantly switch between tasks regardless of whether they are logical or creative processes.

      Good point, if this was the exact question they asked then it doesnt mention anything about concurrently.

    Possibly a trick question.

    I know someone in HR, and they always ask a question that they want the answer to be "No". They're checking if they're willing to stand up to managers/supervisors if they're asked to do something unreasonable.

    It's the 2nd interview. First interview is always with the department. If the pass that, the 2nd interview is with the HR people

    "by writing the relevant code with his right (dominant) hand while also drawing a tree with his right hand."

    this would be difficult, drawing and typing at the same time with the same hand, may want to fix that

    This may be a way to figure out if you are one of those people who has both an artistically creative and mathematical brain and are able to solve unrelated problems in both hemispheres at the same time. Or perhaps they want to see how you perform in an environment that may be full of distractions.

    I think that people that can code well AND have strong artistic ability may be a rarer breed compared to those who have one skill or the other.

    Edit: I think I would have said, "Nup... but I can do this" and proceeded to pat my head whilst rubbing my belly.

    Last edited 14/08/14 9:26 am

      Is it wise for me to ask if they're wedded to pop science ideas of left/right brain divisions?

        Ah, I hadnt realised the left brain/right brain idea had been debunked, just did a little reading. Thanks for the heads up. Its still quite possible that this was what the interview question was about though.

          From a review of Elkhonon Goldberg's The New Executive Brain http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/85233130:

          "Everyone has heard the old story about being "left-brained" or "right-brained" where the left hemisphere is the logical side and the right hemisphere is the intuitive side. The true difference is more subtle than that. The left hemisphere has many neurons that connect to their close neighbors. It can pick up new behavior very quickly. The right hemisphere has many neurons that connect to far off neurons. It picks up new behavior more slowly than the left hemisphere. If the left hemisphere is a tightly woven net, then the right hemisphere is a much larger, courser net, with many scattershot branches.

          They both function the same way in recognizing patterns, but when given a new task to learn, the right hemisphere is most active to begin with. New activity is captured and seen using the larger net. Then, as the task is learned and understood, activity migrates from the right hemisphere to the left. What was previously understood in an unformed, loose way, is seen and codified on the left hemisphere, which can recognize the pattern immediately the next time it sees it and deal with it appropriately.

          This approach gives the brain the best of both worlds; an immediate loose understanding of a situation, and an efficient grasp of a well known situation. When modelling neural networks on computational platforms, it turns out that this combination gives very effective performance. It also explains how damage in the right hemisphere can be absorbed without obvious incident, while damage in the left can be so crippling; the neural network on the right hemisphere can route around the damage and heal without losing already acquired knowledge."

          Last edited 15/08/14 7:50 pm

    "Are you asking whether I can or whether I will?"

    I like when potential employers ask stupid questions like this
    So I know exactly what to avoid and save myself months of grief
    Life's too short to waste with fools

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