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I work at a young startup that got funded. This startup is based out of a small city. We conducted somewhere between 20-30 interviews for software developers in the course of 5 months. Even though most of the people seemed nice enough and ready to work at a startup, they failed even the basic coding puzzles.

Now, since the first 10 candidates's levels were pretty low. I have simplified the coding puzzles to the point that my first question is: "Given 'n' a natural number, can you write a method that returns the sum of numbers from 1 to n?". Almost every person out of the next 20 interviews failed this question.

I wouldn't mind training a junior or taking an intern if he has the foundations covered. In fact, I did this with one of my friends that joined this company. Now he is doing a stellar job.

Talking with local business owners, I got reprimanded a bit because I ask such "algorithmic questions" and they don't matter when you do the actual job. In my mind, I wonder how you can do your job without knowing how to write a "for" loop. The questions just test that the candidate has a good grasp on data structures, they are not at all complicated for someone that actually does coding. I guide them through the puzzles that they get stuck at (mind you, most get stuck at the sum test) with helping questions. If they fail the test, I tell them on what to improve upon if they want to have another go at the interview (no candidates returned for a second interview).

I'm not going to get discouraged and keep searching, but how do I manage the expectations when interviewing in a small city?