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There’s a special game hiding in the Uber app that only some users get to play

Uber Recruiting

The battle for top-notch tech talent today is incredibly fierce. With no shortage of established tech players and burgeoning start-ups in Silicon Valley, many companies have come up with increasingly creative ways to identify and lure competent engineers.

In one of the more clever strategies we’ve seen to date, Uber has reportedly been trying to recruit engineers by sending Uber passengers in-app coding challenges while they’re en route to a destination. Originally reported by BusinessInsider, the thinking behind Uber’s recruiting scheme is rather simple; the company targets geographic locations that tend to have a high density of engineers (i.e. Seattle, Boston, Austin) and randomly throws out a coding challenge via the app. Following that, the company patiently waits and sees who decides to take the bait.

WARNING: Anyone can access sensitive info on your iPhone without even unlocking it

“We are always looking for new ways to reach potential candidates that want to join our team and help us solve interesting problems,” the popular ridesharing company said in a statement. “If you’re in a place where a lot of people work in tech, you may see our ‘Code on the Road’ challenge within the rider app. The option to play gives interested riders the opportunity to show us their skills in a fun and different way – whether they code on the side or are pursuing a career as a developer.”

As for the challenge itself, Uber’s ‘Code on the Road’ game is comprised of three questions which one person described as “generic coding interview questions.” So while the questions are seemingly not the type one would encounter when interviewing at Apple or Microsoft, it’s still a clever way to self-select from a pool of users who a) want to work at Uber and b) are interested in solving a coding challenge when in transit.

One such question, as detailed by Twitter user Joshua Debner, reads as follows:

You are helping design our dispatch system. When a trip is requested, you need to return the driver with the shortest ETA. If a driver canceled, the next driver with the shortest ETA out of k ETAs is dispatched instead.

Which data structure would you use to store the k drivers and dispatch the driver with the shortest ETA?

a) Array

b) Heap

c) Hash Table

d) Binary Search Tree

Interestingly enough, Uber isn’t the only high-tech company that relies upon recruiting strategies that are a bit off the beaten path. As we highlighted a few months ago, Google has a somewhat secret program wherein it will offer users who type in particular types of tech related web queries a coding challenge in an effort to recruit talented engineers. Upon selection, a chosen candidate is given 48 hours to solve a programming challenge. If completed successfully, more challenges are issued. After solving five problems, candidates are then asked to submit their contact information and a more traditional recruiting process begins.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.