I’ve a confession to make.

When I interview people, I absolutely love “writing code on a piece of paper” kind of puzzles.

And before you start throwing rotten apples at me while righteously screaming, “I can be so much more productive in my favourite IDE,” let me explain why.

Look, I’ve seen your CV, and unless you’re a fresh graduate straight out of the uni, your CV says that for years some people paid you to write some code.

This means if I build a comfort zone around you, with sufficient support and guidance, with your favourite IDE for your beloved programming language, with precise requirements, and comfy deadlines, and enough people between you and production servers, you will be able to produce some results.

I already know that from your CV, and I don’t need to spend precious face time to verify that.

What I don’t know, and what I want to know, is how you behave when you’re outside your comfort zone. And making you scribble some code on a whiteboard or on an A4 sheet is my favourite way to figure that out.

Although, take my words with a pinch of salt. Aside from occasional forays, I’ve spent more than two-thirds of my career in various flavours of electronic trading. And so, while it is different elsewhere, but in this industry, when we’ve got to choose between someone who is an okay-ish person with stellar technical skills and someone who is a competent technician with an awesome personality, no debate, we’ll go for the latter.

This is because sometimes markets go wild, and systems go haywire, and opportunities arise from nowhere, and tasks have to be completed yesterday, and we need to onboard the technologies that nobody in the house has the slightest clue about. And you, yes, you have to rise to the occasion and improvise the solution, all while keeping cold-headed composure and maintaining the standards of craftsmanship and quality.

This requires character, and I want to learn yours.

My day job is not solving algorithmic puzzles with pen and paper, and neither is yours, and that’s precisely the point. I want to get you to unfamiliar territory and see how you navigate it. I want you to struggle because I want to know how you struggle because I want to be aware what to expect from you on a tough day.

I’ve seen people who said they’re looking for a challenge, and then when facing a rather miniature puzzle challenge, went full-on kernel panic, breaking pens and sweating profusely.

I’ve seen people who advertised themselves as team players and then tried to bullshit their way through, all while adamantly refusing to ask for help or admit being wrong.

I’ve seen people who just happened to be good at puzzles, and that felt like a waste of time and required improvising some alternative way to assess them.

I’ve seen quite a few people who looked cool, and then got hired, and then proven themselves to be really, really awesome.

Oh, and by the way, if you feel like Crypto Algo Trading in the Amsterdam area sounds like a cool thing to do, we are hiring!

Writer of code, developer of stories, drinker of coffee, runner of marathons, dreamer of the better world