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ThoughtWorks

Did any of you have a technical interview with Thoughtworks? What kind of questions did they ask? I'd love to work there, but I'm kind of scared of the interview. Those guys seems to be very good and their selection process is very tough .

Boris Bergman
Monday, December 01, 2003

A friend interviewed for them. They'll assign you a code problem you have a week to complete.

Walter Rumsby
Monday, December 01, 2003

Did that. Now it's the next step - actual technical interview. Would appreciate any info about it.

Boris Bergman
Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I heard that it's pretty thorough - working through programming problems on a whiteboard in front of a panel of developers, etc. It's not a process that suits those who aren't confident.

By the way - I couldn't help but notice that most of the people they are hiring are for their Banglore office.

Yes folks - bodyshop type software jobs - even the ones with the "elite" software development firms are slowly but surely slipping away. If you're a code-monkey working in a western country for a consulting/bodyshop outfit (PWC, Deloitte, Accenture, EDS, etc) you should be very, very scared.

Burninator
Tuesday, December 02, 2003

or if you work for an 'elite' software company such as microsoft or oracle you should also be worried.

i
Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Also be prepared for two written tests:

1) A very interesting "logic" test that is programming language independent; it will require some pretty good programming skills to finish this

2) A standard intelligence test (can't remember the name)

Fun stuff if you like problem-solving but it can be intimidating if you don't have a great deal of confidence, IMO.

Doug BadBlue com
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I worked there for a couple of years.  The intelligence tests consists of a test with something like 60 multiple choice questions that you are given 8 minutes to complete.  Answering all questions is not expected and is very rare.

The logic test is a language independent test with 12 questions (some of which have multiple parts).  Really all you do is trace a flow of logic based on rules and getting a register in a proper state.

Then it is just random interviews with whoever they can find.  Expect a lot of discussion about process.  Be informed about agile processes, in particular XP.

Oren Miller
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

How did you like working there? Is it as good as it seems? ;)

Boris Bergman
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

That depends on who you are and where you are in life.  Keep in mind that it is a consulting firm that gets work wherever it can.  So you will need to be prepared to travel and not always to galmorous places, sometimes for extended periods of time.  Other occasions you will go to great places with very cool people (they have some big project in London, for instance).  Working at client sites is very common, so athmosphere can vary depending on the type of client you work for.

An earlier person correctly pointed out that much of the highering is in Bangalore.  This has been true for the past year.  Much of the focus at the company is to offshore much of the software development (they say per clients requests), and have the so called architects and business analysts operate out of the U.S. This is mostly experimental and its expansion hinges on the sucess of this model.  I personally this model is more beffiting a company like Accenture than TW, but there are parts of TW that would like to be more like Accenture.  Other parts of TW are more favorable to gelled teams that work in close physical proximity (which is also what I favor)

There are really many great things about the company, and some annoyances.  In general it is a fun athmosphere with lots of young really technical people, although the company is a little older now and hiring more traditional business types in an effort to grow the company.  I think overall you will find the work environment considerably better than most, with many opportunities to express yourself.  There is also a burgeoning open source community there which TW ecourages and supports.

Oren Miller
Thursday, December 04, 2003

My recent experience interviewing with Thoughtworks established that most of the advice on this topic is correct. Sadly I was unsuccessful getting past the first face-to-face interview and logic tests. :(

I first had a telephone interview with someone from their HR department. It was fairly standard stuff - why do I want to work for TW, dev tools / IDEs I've used, what was the most important thing I learnt from my last job etc.

Second came the coding exercise (sent out to me straight after the telephone interview). I had a choice of three relatively easy problems to solve; all were algorithmically oriented but still anchored in real life problems.

My advice to anyone embarking on the coding exercise is that simplicity is king (as you'd expect from an Agile company). For those who missed it the first time: simplicity is king. Really, I can't stress it enough. I was shot down for my use of abstractions because my interviewers disagreed that the problem warranted the complexity they introduced (not much IMHO) - and we're not even talking about throwing GoF design patterns at them either - just partitioning responsibility, a couple of classes where they though there should be one. Also, they give you sample test data and for the problem I attempted one piece of it was incorrect so make sure your tests pick this up.

Next came the first and last time I stepped into their office. I was subjected to a two part assessment test for about two hours - the first being a 12 minute dash to answer such questions as "The meaning of subjective is a) the opposite; b) the same; c) not related to the meaning of objective" and "If Bobby can buy 12 cookies for $3.60, how many cookies will he get for $9.00". Some of these questions were so moronic I had to read them several times to make sure I wasn't answering them incorrectly and some were so hard I just left them. Apparently they don't expect anyone to finish them. Personally, I hate these sorts of tests, I find them mildly patronising and they are often peddled by people ignorant of the faulty science they are based on - I'm sure you will hate them too.

The second part of the assessment test had 12 questions further divided into several styles of questions. They all involved either following an (often self-modifying) flowchart and filling in registers or taking registers where you know the end or partial end result and need to make a decision on aspects of the original starting data through backtracking of flowcharts and logical inferences based on assumptions you are told you can make. All quite challenging stuff and unlike the first assessment test I think this is at least relevant to the task at hand (well, I hope TW doesn't code like this).

Then came the face to face interview. I was lucky to speak to two great developers with whom I suspect I would have thoroughly enjoyed working. They didn't want a regurgitation of my CV, just a developer to developer chat about what I'd been doing, what I've enjoyed, what I'd do different next time in projects past etc. We must have only spent three sentences in the whole hour on the coding exercise but I'm not sure that's standard - other interviewers may focus more heavily on that.

All in all I'd say my interviewing experience with TW was positive and it's my opinion that when you feel positive about it even when you didn't get the job then it indicates a professional approach by the employer.

The only annoyance was that I was shot down mostly for my coding exercise yet we hardly covered this in the interview - surely they knew this before they announced they were "excited" to bring me in for an interview.

Thoughtworks reject
Friday, July 16, 2004

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