The Problem With “FizzBuzz”

The first time I saw it, I was already rattled. I left from my home in Davis for San Francisco with plenty of time to make it even with traffic (an extra 90 minutes over what even the most pessimistic traffic forecasts gave). I was 10 minutes late, stress levels through the roof. It was unseasonably warm in SF that day and I ended up walking half a mile in the [relative] heat to get from parking to the interview.

I walked in and was grilled. My stress never came down; I don’t think my heart rate did, either. At this time in my career, I’d already provided solutions for Cal-Fire (as a one man scrum team) and the California Community College Tech Center (as lead developer). They gave me FizzBuzz, to write in my notebook. I got Fizz and Buzz without thinking about it…and completely forgot there could be a FizzBuzz result. To no one’s surprise, I didn’t get the job.

I’d already had community college board members bitch and moan and put down my entire dev team on a call. I’d been yelled at by clients; been called names and had my integrity, quality, and knowledge questioned when the client “couldn’t” pay her bill (<$400 while running two storefronts and having just bought a brand new Audi TT); I’d had a hyper-egotistical CEO ask me to lie to investors—I didn’t—and demand impossible deadlines). For whatever reason, I was rattled and missed a branch.

I don’t even recall what that job was anymore, and today I would know ahead of time and refuse the interview based on their reliance of code examples that only test whether you’ve seen the question posed while you’re crotch deep in an already unpleasant situation. IMO we both lost out over this question, and hiring managers continue to.