There seems to be some dispute about this question on if it's relevant for this site or not. I'm of the impression it can be, as the overall question boils down to:

Is this task really that hard? Or is it a good one that really shows if you can come up with at least simple algorithm and implement it?

However it was closed with the comment:

Put on hold. This is not a site where we review your interview questions. This is arguably not on-topic on any of the sites in the SE network but perhaps one of the chatrooms on SO or Programmers will be a better audience.


Are reviewing interview questions for a postion and dictating if they are too hard off topic? Can we improve the question to make it on topic and if so, how? I feel it's at least salvageable, but not sure how to do it.

  • It think some downvoters/close voters mistook this for a StackOverflow-type question asking how to actually find the second biggest number without sorting an array. Part of the problem is the title of the question "Interview live-coding - Find Second Biggest number in array" - it looks off topic even before you click on it to read what it says.
    – Brandin
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 15:06
  • Question is Reopened now
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 17:11

5 Answers 5


I edited the question to focus on how to determine if the coding task is too hard, and reduced the emphasis on the specific task of finding the second largest number in the array. This hopefully makes it applicable to a broader set of scenarios, as determining a "reasonable" degree of difficulty for interview questions applies to several jobs.

I have also cast the 2nd reopen vote.

  • 1
    This edit, and now the most recent really opened it up I think...
    – Neo
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 17:12

I don't really want this site to become a, "what do you think of this interview question?" which is basically what that is.

The core is basically:

  • "We're using this question, is it too hard?"

We could have literally thousands of equally useless questions about that sort of thing. There are books on this subject, especially for software engineering.

In my opinion in order for this to be a good question it needs to be something more like:

  • "How can we evaluate whether or not a technical question is too difficult?"

and all the specifics of this exact question removed. That can be meaningfully answered, though with difficulty.

  • 1
    Hah, looks like great minds think alike. :) I edited the question along these lines (somewhat). I came here to post a reopen-request, but found out @Draken beat me to it, and there have been a few answers as well.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 16:34

This site is about the workplace, not about specific jobs. If a question requires domain expertise -- in programming or plumbing or dentistry or any other non-HR field -- then it isn't a good fit here. The best places to get help on your programming problem are technical sites and our chat room.

The questions about interview questions that work well here are the ones that are more domain-independent -- what questions can I ask to evaluate how someone makes snap judgements (for a job that requires that), how can I evaluate someone's reliability, how can I screen for creativity, etc. (All of those would need to be developed more; those are just summaries.)

  • 2
    It's true that we're more on the IT fields, however if we use that too much, we would end to be seen as "the IT workplace", which is not what we want for the workplace.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 15:56
  • It would be hard to be more domain-specific than this question (currently still open): workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/102256/…. We really don't seem to require domain-independent questions and answers as far as I can tell. Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 15:19
  • @JoeStrazzere fortunately, the community put that question on hold in under four hours. Unfortunately, three people answered it. Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 15:47

IMHO, it is definitively off topic as stated, we can't tell someone if that task is a good one to test people without even the job (Developpers ? Beginners ? Seniors ?), it's more about opinion than anything.

At best we could reformulate the question in a very generic way :

What criteria can I use to evaluate if an assignment is a good one to test interviewee ?

Some sample of objective arguments that could be given in answers :

  • People that are considered competent in the company for the same level of job can solve it fast enough.
  • The assignment evaluate something related enough to the job, for instance the exemple given by OP has little use if the job you candidate is to be a DBA or system guy.
  • People that made through it have less problems to handle tasks that before that tests existed.

What is or is not a suitable interview question is very much a workplace issue.

I've seen questions about interview questions from the point of view of both the interviewer and the interviewee, though more often from the point of view of the interviewee. I assume there are more interviewees than interviewers, and the interviewers tend to be more experienced, and therefore have less need for guidance.

A Workplace search for "Interview Question", produces 4,669 results. Those on the first few pages that were closed were typically closed for being opinion based or company specific. There does not seem to be any general rule that the appropriateness of an interview question is automatically off-topic.

The only thing about this question that is unusual is that evaluating the appropriateness of the question requires programming experience. I don't answer questions about employment law and custom in India, not because I consider them off-topic but because I do not have the background knowledge to contribute. I suggest that participants who do not have the background to answer this question should do the same.

  • Isn't this site about the workplace, and not how to get into a new workplace? I know its splitting hairs, but as a couple others have stated I would hate to see this site become "*How do I answer this interview question?".
    – Neo
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 17:11
  • @MisterPositive About half of the first page of the active questions list is about getting, leaving, or changing jobs. Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 18:16

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