On the blog Coding Horror, Jeff Atwood quotes individuals as saying that a large number of programming job applicants are unable to implement FizzBuzz. Why Can't Programmers.. Program?

[Quoting Don't Overthink FizzBuzz]

Like me, the author is having trouble with the fact that 199 out of 200 applicants for every programming job can't write code at all. I repeat: they can't write any code whatsoever.

The author he's referring to is Imran, who is evidently turning away lots of programmers who can't write a simple program:

Write a program that prints the numbers from 1 to 100. But for multiples of three print "Fizz" instead of the number and for the multiples of five print "Buzz". For numbers which are multiples of both three and five print "FizzBuzz".

Most good programmers should be able to write out on paper a program which does this in a under a couple of minutes. Want to know something scary? The majority of comp sci graduates can't. I've also seen self-proclaimed senior programmers take more than 10-15 minutes to write a solution.

Are a large proportion of programming job applicants unable to implement FizzBuzz (or a similarly simple task)?

  • 19
    The "large proportion" might need to be defined if you want a definitive answer on this. 199 out of 200 not knowing the modulo operator does sound ludicrously high May 6, 2016 at 11:10
  • 8
    @MikeyMouse even if you don't know the modulo operator, you can still work out the remainder using the standard arithmetic operators without too much difficulty, which makes 199 out of 200 even more ludicrously high.
    – user18604
    May 6, 2016 at 14:01
  • 26
    This is just a mixup of claims. The original source (Imran) only says "The majority of comp-sci graduates can't implement FizzBuzz in a couple of minutes". That's very different from saying 199 out of 200 programmers can't implement it at all. The '199 out of 200' comes from Joel's entirely hypothetical analysis of recruting, and says nothing about FizzBuzz. May 6, 2016 at 16:29
  • 15
    Something to keep in mind--those same applicants apply and fail time and again and thus get way overcounted compared to their prevalence in the population of "programmers". May 6, 2016 at 22:56
  • 22
    Just to call out one detail, "on paper". The difference between writing code with pen and paper, and writing code using the tools of the trade, such as an IDE, or even just a compiler, may be pretty significant. I've always found evaluating a programmer based on the ability to write code on paper akin to evaluating a carpenter based on the ability to pound nails with a chicken bone.
    – femtoRgon
    May 7, 2016 at 2:36


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