I have been programming for over 30 years now. I've developed numerous applications and worked in several programming languages, operating systems and hardware platforms. Recently, I interviewed for a regular 9 to 5 with a startup company that vaguely seemed promising. I did an online chat that asked me a bunch of silly questions and a few programming questions. They liked my answers so they had me go to their office for an in person interview that took four hours. I haven't interviewed for a job in over 15 years.

I had to spend an hour with each of their 4 developers. The questions went from simple to hard. Throughout the process, I found it difficult to organize my thinking and it felt like someone had a gun to my head. The questions were very computer sciencey and you'd rarely encounter such problems in the real world. Nevertheless, they were somewhat simple like counting the nodes in a tree with any number of children and squaring a list of sorted integers while keeping it sorted.

I generally understood how to do it, but I struggled with the details and kept getting confused. As I worked through the problems, I couldn't recall the last step. I've always had problems with my working memory, but in this case I was exceptionally bad. I suspect that most of it is age related. Does age affect your programming ability?

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Justin Cave, user40980, Doc Brown, Robert Harvey Mar 3 '16 at 6:48

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    My father (who wrote the first commercial French compiler, PAF, in 1958-60) did code till his 70s.... – Basile Starynkevitch Mar 3 '16 at 6:07
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    Mostly, what you're describing in your question is the byzantine process that we call the modern-day job search. Everyone participates in it; nobody likes it. But it's all we have. – Robert Harvey Mar 3 '16 at 6:47
  • Age comes in different forms to different people. Memory is a typical problem for many. I surely learned faster when I was younger. Especially the simple things you just need to memorize. On the other side experience makes it easier to learn more context and complexity related things. A healthy lifestyle helps a lot. There are a few dietary supplements (also part of healthy food) that could help. Maybe do some research for Nootropics (there are different types, from vitamins up to ADHS medicamentation, I would avoid the latter) – thorsten müller Mar 3 '16 at 8:22
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    Been there. Don't despair. I had an interview four years ago with a top company, solved their problems pretty easily, but my presentation was disorganized because I was out of practice interviewing. Also failed an interview at another top consultancy. A year later I got recalled by both, spent some time thinking about my failures and how to improve, got two offers. If you haven't been doing much thinking about algorithms lately, brush up. – kevin cline Mar 3 '16 at 8:27
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    It's just that most of interview for technical jobs sucks. Either questions are too broad, either they are too technical (like what method of which class i have to use in this version of that library to do that...). Because either they see only the development part of being a developper, or they see only the theory, the things that you study, but never use in loooot of case. How much (%) of developper did even has to develop a stack ? But let's be honest, testing a developer is not an easy thing either way. – Walfrat Mar 3 '16 at 13:07

Age changes how you think. Positive? Negative? Who knows. But we change our perspective as we age. As a general trend, the older crowd is better at working the big picture, while the younger crowd is better at working the details. I find typical business culture reinforces that trend.

I once talked to someone who went through Navy boot camp in his mid-30s. I asked him how he survived it. He said that the age was a mixed blessing. He had much more trouble with the physical demands of the training, but he was far more prepared for the mental games they play with you there than any of his younger cohorts were. He could rise above them, if you will.

If a startup is subjecting you to 4 hours of testings to see if you're "good enough" with 30 years experience, turn it around. Treat it as 4 hours to get to know the gang, and show that you're not really all that worried about whether you can answer some textbook problems. 30 years of experience will never be demonstrated in 4 hours of coding tasks, but can show through in 4 hours of chatting with the dev's.

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    Unfortunately, I have met guys with 20 years of experience who would not pass an entry-level coding interview at selective companies. They got hired on once upon a time on their diploma alone. – kevin cline Mar 3 '16 at 8:24
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    @kevincline Then I assume that they would have a remarkable time demonstrating their value during their interaction with the devs – Cort Ammon Mar 3 '16 at 14:05

Yes for some persons while they are being aged things go off from our mind, but sure they will work once they get a glimpse or a small recall, its natural and never worry of it, stay cool and enjoy your life try recalling your basics with programming....I suggest you to count from number 1 to 100 and then vise-versa 100 to 1, then try counting with multiples of 2, with multiples of 3 and it goes on like this(_all these are to be done when you are relaxing or when you go to bed at night-may increase your recalling capabilities and make you strong more than today _)

  • Better yet, count from 0 like they've been doing the past few decades. – Glenn Randers-Pehrson Mar 3 '16 at 21:54

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