Uber is trying to recruit engineers by randomly sending a coding game to play during rides

Uber has found a novel way to tempt engineers to work for the fast-growing startup, confirmed the taxi-aggregator service to Business Insider. The taxi-hailing app Uber is reportedly recruiting engineers for its platform by testing their coding skills through an in-built coding game, which pops-up during an Uber ride.

Joshua Debner, a Microsoft engineer took an Uber in Seattle to meet a friend when the new notification popped up on the screen.

Uber wanted to play a coding game called “Code on the Road.”

It’s not clear how Uber knew that Debner was in any way involved with coding, as he has never spoken to Uber or a recruiter, or submitted his resume to the ride-hailing company. He has also not used his Microsoft email address on his account, or used Uber for Microsoft business, nor was he going to or leave from the Microsoft campus.

Uber maintains that it is not using individual information to classify recruits, but identifying geographical areas where tech jobs are concentrated to find potential candidates and let them play the game.

“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,” an Uber spokesperson said.

The fact that an engineer like Debner saw the test means it’s working at finding out prospects that Uber might have missed.

“We are always looking for new ways to reach potential candidates that want to join our team and help us solve interesting problems. 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,” a company spokesperson said. “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.”

If they accept the test, the rider is offered a game that consists of three coding problems, each with a 60-second countdown, and scores them based on their answers.

Debner said that the questions he responded to in the “Code on the Road” challenge were very generic coding interview questions and not personalized to his skills. Instead, it appeared like an easy way to find candidates who might be interested and hadn’t thought of working at Uber before.

“I think it’s kind of a crapshoot either way,” Debner told Business Insider. “I don’t know if answering a timed 60-second quiz in a dark Uber when the driver is trying to talk to you is the best way. If someone passes all of it, it’s kind of like a free phone screening.”

If they are worthy, the app prods them to click a button to get in touch.

Just to see what would happen, Debner did hit the prompt to submit his results to Uber. The company sent him an email that contained a link for him to apply if he’s interested (he’s not), but he hasn’t heard from them otherwise.

While Debner is just a Microsoft employee who is in Seattle, Uber has been running the hacking challenges in cities like Seattle, Boston, Austin, Portland, and Denver that have a huge number of tech workers.

Uber is not the only Silicon Valley giant, which has found an inventive way to hire people. It has already programmed an #UberBot to challenge programmers on Codefights. Similarly, Google offers at least one person a job when people search for certain programming-related terms through its own secret programming test.

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