To stay ahead of the game Facebook needs to recruit programmers of exceptional talent and one of the methods it uses is open to all comers.
In his latest book, The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else George Anders draws attention to the way Facebook uses fiendishly difficult programming puzzles as part of its recruitment process.
Facebook's strategy to identify hidden talent this way isn't new. It dates back to 2006 when Facebook was still a start-up and was an idea hit upon by Facebook's rookie chief technology officer Adam D'Angelo and originally implemented by engineer Yishan Wong.
While Facebook still use traditional selection and interview techniques for finding new employees, taking its programming test is an alternative route for those who might get overlooked in this process due to having a patchy resume.
The online test, which can be tackled in a choice of C, C++, Java, Python, Perl, Ruby, C# or PHP, is freely available and it's an easy concept. According to the Facebook Programming Challenge page:
Take the timed challenge. If your code passes the test, you will be contacted for a telephone interview.
However this is not an easy challenge.
There's no room for cheating by teaming up with other bright minds. If code is too similar to another submission both will be disqualified. And it's a one-shot chance. If you fail the test you can't retry it.
The test, which is now hosted by Interview Street which also has developer hiring tests for other companies, takes 1 to 2 hours and you are warned to make sure you have enough time to complete it as once you log in with your Facebook account to take the test you can't back out. There is however a sample test available to try out the environment without spoiling your chances.
There's also a Facebook page with an archive of recruitment puzzles, but currently its grading robot is down. Visit instead the new Puzzle Master page for information.
Facebook Programming Challenge
Facebook Puzzle Master page
Excerpt from The Rare Find on Business World.com
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