Idiot Coworker Got A Job At Facebook
One of my clueless coworkers got a job at Facebook as a "machine learning software engineer". This is the guy who wanted to use machine learning on a project where we had no training data set.
I asked him how he got hired.
He said "I practiced algorithm interview questions for 6 months."
July 12th, 2017 7:25pm
1. Useful advice. I bet you could do the same if you put your mind to it.
2. I see no evidence the coworker is an idiot.
July 12th, 2017 7:41pm
How does that make you feel? This person is an "idiot" (in your viewpoint anyways) but is working at Facebook while you toil away for some shithole.
July 12th, 2017 8:29pm
He isn't an idiot, in the sense that he got a higher-paying, higher-status job.
He is an idiot, because he doesn't know anything about writing software that works. He was attempting to use machine learning without a proper training set, on a problem that wasn't suitable for that approach. He was attempting to pad his resume with "machine learning" experience, but all he was doing was plugging mangled data into a Python library.
Yeah, I could put months into cramming algorithms. I'd rather put the time into my game projects. (I've been slacking on that.) Even if I did succeed, I'd probably wind up getting the Michael O Church treatment if I did get a job at a big tech company. (I'm pretty sure this guy would have voted against hiring me, if he was interviewing me.)
The lesson is that I shouldn't look towards "job at big tech company" as a reasonable goal. My analysis of the few times I did interview at such places, the people doing the interview didn't strike me as world class talent (and I have worked with brilliant people a few times).
Maybe if I was unemployed again, I'd put time into cramming algorithm questions. I still think bootstrapping a business is a better use if my tie. In my last job search, I got rejected most places without even a technical interview.
July 12th, 2017 9:36pm
It also shows that algorithm interviews are pretty useless. It's too easy for someone to game them by practicing.
So the big tech companies are filled with people who crammed algorithm interview questions, but don't necessarily know how to write software.
July 12th, 2017 9:37pm
So he didn't have a training set and he was trying to develop an accurate regression or classification model? How is that even possible?
I see your point.
July 12th, 2017 9:56pm
His solution was to get a small sample of data and we manually classified it.
It didn't work. I recall one example where he tried using it and the results were garbage.
July 12th, 2017 10:03pm
"It also shows that algorithm interviews are pretty useless."
Perhaps useless for the employer, but not for the employee, correct?
And as far as the employer, Facebook seems to be doing great and is highly profitable with all their idiot developers who don't know anything, correct? So it is not so useless for the employer either.
It seems it tests whether the employee is willing to do anything to succeed, including cheat and bend the rules.
Isn't that a valuable skill set to have an Facebook? Isn't it reasonable that they have an interview process in place that tests for that quality?
July 12th, 2017 10:10pm
Tech giant interviews are basically standardized tests.
They have shortcomings, but they're better for hiring at scale than whatever FSK's idea of how to conduct a proper interview would be.
July 12th, 2017 10:24pm
I think it depends on a lot of factors, which FSK overlooks.
July 12th, 2017 10:31pm
> It also shows that algorithm interviews are pretty useless.
No, it doesn't. If you gave 99.9% of the population a copy of Cracking the Coding Interview and a year of time to study they would still fail a Facebook coding interview.
If someone succeeds at this it means they will *probably* be qualified to contribute meaningfully at Facebook
July 12th, 2017 10:41pm
I agree with Wabi
Certainly reasonable for FB prefer the "idiot" who knows the algorithms to "idiot" who doesn't
July 13th, 2017 12:19am
July 13th, 2017 12:35am
A guy that has been programming since the TRS-80 days and doing stuff with the web since 2000 and runs his own startup is taking off seven months to try to get a job at Google?
I’m not sure exactly what is wrong with this picture, but something feels wrong.
July 13th, 2017 12:36am
Google is a big company, once you've had a taste of the freedom of running your own business working in a big bureaucracy would be very frustrating.
July 13th, 2017 6:35am
"The lesson is that I shouldn't look towards "job at big tech company" as a reasonable goal."
The lesson you need to learn is a little self-promotion isn't a bad thing, it's no good being a genius if nobody knows about it.
July 13th, 2017 6:36am
Nice rationalisation you did here, FSK.
July 13th, 2017 7:07am
"This is the guy who wanted to use machine learning on a project where we had no training data set."
Can you elaborate? You had no data at all for the project?
July 13th, 2017 7:07am
OK, I read your previous answer.
"His solution was to get a small sample of data and we manually classified it."
Which may be your best choice if you are realistic about the confidence intervals of the resulting classifications.
"It didn't work. I recall one example where he tried using it and the results were garbage."
And what was the alternative solution that you proposed?
July 13th, 2017 7:12am
My proposed solution was to explicitly program the rules, rather than using machine learning. I was overruled, so I didn't implement it.
I still think cramming algorithm questions for 6 months is a poor use of my timr.
July 13th, 2017 7:37am
They might ask about the long arrow operator in C++. Like, instead of obj.ref().ref().ref().ref()->operation(), did you know about the obj--------->operation() operator? If not, you're a fail, with all those 6 months going down the drain.
July 13th, 2017 8:11am
There's a long arrow operator in C++?
How do you keep count of the dashes?
July 13th, 2017 8:38am
>> There's a long arrow operator in C++?
Nope. But there's "--" and you can overload it to have dereferencing behavior.
So x-----> is actually ((x--)--)->
The magic of C++ B-)
July 13th, 2017 8:48am
But that doesn't mean you SHOULD.
Because it's cruel.
July 13th, 2017 8:53am
I was never asked about such BS during an interview, and if I were, I'd take it as a red flag. Google or no Google.
July 13th, 2017 8:54am
"My proposed solution was to explicitly program the rules, rather than using machine learning. I was overruled, so I didn't implement it."
Where would the rules come from? Did you have a theory about the simulated system?
July 13th, 2017 8:55am
July 13th, 2017 9:09am
Sure. But just like outsourcing, it's cheap. And defective.
July 13th, 2017 9:15am
Heh. Notice the guys putting white-boards up at each end of their desk, to try to get some privacy.
July 13th, 2017 9:16am
>> The design reflects Facebook’s emphasis on openness and transparency. It is set up to encourage collaboration and speed
Well, communists too tried some experiments to bend the individualist human nature into joyful collectivism. This shit will fail just like those attempts, hopefully with less victims.
July 13th, 2017 9:18am
>> No walls inside an entire building engineered to facilitate a new way of doing work.
>> Other major Silicon Valley firms such as Apple and Google are planning futuristic workplaces, too.
No clothes is the next step. Nothing encourages transparency and collaboration more than nudism at the workplace.
July 13th, 2017 9:20am
And rectal probes. Who wouldn't take a rectal probe in exchange for $120k?
July 13th, 2017 9:21am
Someone else had already implemented a rule-based program in SAP or Siebel or something. It mostly worked. I wanted to translate it to Python (what most people here use) and then improve it.
July 13th, 2017 9:49am
Ah, so your colleagues wanted to put "machine learning" on their resumes and you objected.
July 13th, 2017 9:50am
>> Well, communists too tried some experiments to bend the individualist human nature into joyful collectivism.
Storytime: Team building at work. All of us wearing t-shirts with the stupid company values. This one guy from Beograd suddently laughs out loud. "This is worse than during Tito".
Just look at those images from Facebook HQ. Posters everywhere with company logos and slogans. One image with a slightly large girl on a treadmill desk(!?) besides a poster "Move fast and break things"... Jebus... talk about indoctrination. A chalkboard wall full of platitudes and an edgy meeting room called "death star".
FSK your friend is "really" lucky to work at Facebook. I hope at least he gets a good salary.
July 13th, 2017 9:58am
That's what I thought. He just wanted to pad his resume with "machine learning" experience. I've seen that many times before, someone ruining a project just so they could pad their resume with something trendy.
He was the lead, so I only objected mildly then went along with his plan.
July 13th, 2017 10:01am
He isn't moving. He's working out of their NYC office, which is probably similar. He actually has a private office here. I have a big cubicle in a 12 person room.
That's why I say a job at many big tech cos isn't necessarily a prize worth 6 months cramming interview questions.
July 13th, 2017 10:04am
That Facebook office is a nightmare. Look at the height of the ceilings. It's not human-scale.
July 13th, 2017 10:08am
Google offices in London are nicer.
July 13th, 2017 10:16am
There's also a jar of ointment for those probes?
July 13th, 2017 10:57am
Certainly no idiot has ever in the history of the world been given a job he doesn't deserve and isn't qualified for. I'm sure all of CoT agrees.
July 13th, 2017 1:59pm
> That Facebook office is a nightmare. Look at the height of the ceilings. It's not human-scale.
The office ceilings are too tall for you?
July 13th, 2017 11:14pm
Oh, you bet. EVERYTHING anyone says bounces up to that reflective ceiling then down again. It's an echo-chamber with a 1/4 second delay. Horrible for communication, contemplation, or mind work.
July 14th, 2017 7:48am
That room says "everyone in this room is an unimportant replaceable cog in a company that doesn't care about you."
July 14th, 2017 7:50am