Software engineering is a fascinating field. Others may not agree, but I believe that there is a bit of art in the way you approach problems and create new solutions. Of course, learning the fundamentals is crucial, but the ability to understand how to apply these fundamentals and how to use them to innovate is not always teachable. That's one reason why diversification matters, so we can have points of view from different backgrounds tackling a problem. If it all came back just to fundamentals, why would that matter, right?
This subtle part of our scientific area makes the beauty of our interview system. You have the opportunity to show on the spot that you are different, that you have that "it" factor. And if you do, the job is yours. Depending on the interview, the questions can be more or less complicated, the number of steps might change, but the bread and butter never changes. And it never changes because it is good and it is fair. Which other areas a self-taught person could beat an MIT student in an interview because they were able to handle themselves better under pressure, for example? Not a lot that I can think of, for sure. Especially not coming right out of college, when you don't have a lot of experience to show off.
Few months ago, my brother, who is an economy student, participated in an interview with a bunch of other candidates. They all did a virtual conference where they answered questions like "What's your level of English?", "How good you are with Excel?" and "Tell me a bit about you". Although the last one can create a little bit of separation, what could you possibly be expecting to hear from a candidate that will make them the perfect one for the job?
Coding interviews sure require knowledge. You better know your way through lists, trees, graphs, stacks, queues, and so on, but I better rely on my knowledge than my ability to tell a bit about myself. Coding interviews are the best at something we desperately need in Brazil, equality - I would not lose the opportunity to criticize my own country, c'mon.
Equality is what sets it apart, actually, because when you put everybody on the same level of competition, the diamonds in the rough shine brighter.