Tried And True Techniques To Prepare For A Coding Interview
Coding interviews are a mixed bag. It depends on the company, the interviewer, your skill set, etc. Theres no silver bullet for acing the interview, no matter how much we wished. It essentially comes down to how you prepare.
This may seem trivial, but youd be surprised at how many candidates wait till the last minute to start laying out their plan. Here, weve outlined the top 5 things you should do to prepare for the interview.
Heres what well cover today:
Dont Forget The Soft Skills
Mastery of coding challenges is only half the battle in coding interview preparation, so dont forget the soft skills. Throughout the entire interview process, including the technical coding interview, there are a lot of things that interviewers are looking for besides your ability to code. These other skills have to do with how well you communicate your thought process, collaborate, talk about the problem at hand, your leadership skills, your drive to learn, and generally speaking, how nice you are. Soft skills are often overlooked by candidates and can be deal breakers for a lot of coding interviews.
A company thats worth applying to will want candidates that have strong soft skills, sometimes moreso than hard skills, because they show how well a person can grow within the company and develop those hard skills over time. This is especially the case for junior software engineers.
When you practice your code challenges, see if you can buddy up with someone and take turns doing mock interview. Practice talking through the coding problem as you work, asking questions, giving each other hints here and there, and revealing your ability to lead, collaborate, and persevere through the coding test.
How To Prepare For A Coding Interview In 10 Steps
Many employers perform coding interviews to ensure you’re fluent in the coding languages they use and have the right technical experience. Coding interviews focus on your computer programming skills and your training in information technology. Knowing what to expect in a coding interview helps you answer questions successfully and effectively demonstrate your knowledge. In this article, we explain what a coding interview is and how to prepare for one.
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How Would You Handle Working On A Team With People From Other Departments
During a programming interview, youll take technical tests or complete technical interviews. You can use these opportunities to showcase your soft skills as well, such as providing examples of your interpersonal and communication skills.
ExampleI work well on teams, including ones with non-tech members. I find that these groups can produce products and solutions that a team of like-minded people may not consider. I also enjoy meeting new people and considering other angles to the projects we work on together. I have worked on teams with only programmers and mixed teams in the past, and feel the mixed groups were often more innovative. I would welcome an opportunity to work on this type of team.
Some Points Foryour Preparation Strategy For Coding Interview
1. Mock Interviews With Friends: You can form a mock interview group with friends to interview each other. You can give feedback to each other and improve your technical skills as well as communication skills together. Always make a group of people who motivate you to improve yourself and gives you the right advice.
2. Create aList To Track Your Mistakes: Create a list to track mistakes you have made while solving any problem so that you do not repeat the same mistakes during the interview. Also, keep track of mistakes youve made while making projects and how you resolve them so that if the interviewer asks about them, you can easily explain. Many companies take behavioral rounds and one of the famous questions is to tell about your mistakes/failures, so you can also write down the answer to these questions as it is hard to come up with the proper answer at that time.
3. Start Timing Yourself: You should be able to solve the problem under a given timeframe in the actual interview. You can improve your efficiency by solving as many problems as you can.
4. Solve Targeted Questions: Solve questions of the company youre interviewing for, using sites such as Glassdoor, GeeksforGeeks, etc. Talk to friends who may have interviewed at that company before.
5. Make Cheat-sheets and Flash Cards for Revision: Make short cheat sheets for problems you have done before and concepts with which youre not very comfortable. Use them to revise problems quickly later.
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Improve And Maintain Over Time
Once the rust is gone, and youre fully prepped, it is dead easy to keep your CS and interview skills sharp: solve one coding question per day. Ive been doing this for the past 3 years or so, and Ive realized the following benefits:
The relative time investment is small no more than 3035 minutes per day, on average, and the benefit is immeasurable. Were I to find myself in an immediate technical interview need situation, for whatever reason, I am always well prepared.
If this article helps just one person nail their interview and get a hire decision, mission accomplished. I hope you enjoy the content below. Have fun studying, and good luck, wherever your technical career takes you!!
Im a devoted father and husband to an awesome family, and a Software Development Manager and hands-on technical leader and Engineer in my spare time. For more information about me, please visit , or www.booleanzen.com.
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Prepare For The Behavioral Interview
Behavioral interview questions typically fall into one of three categories:
- Past experiences
- Hypothetical situations
- Values-based questions
Behavioral interviews help interviewers decide if youre someone they would want to work with. Reflect on how you react to positive situations or conflicts in a professional setting, and be honest about your past experiences. Essentially, be your authentic self.
Dont be afraid to bring your unique perspective to the table. Go beyond just answering questions. Really listen and respond to your interviewers. Show them that youre engaged and tuned into the conversation youre having with them.
The most important thing to keep in mind for any behavioral interview is that your interviewers want to hire you. If youre enthusiastic about the technology youll be working with, dont be afraid to show it!
If you want to brush up on behavioral interview questions, then check out Grokking the Behavioral Interview to learn more about what interviewers are looking for, and how you can develop the kind of structured responses that impress them.
You can also read up about the key attributes that define the culture at Microsoft.
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Best Tips And Strategies To Prepare For A Coding Interview
Preparation for acing a coding interview starts months before the interview itself. You will have to get the right experience, build projects outside of school, find internships, do mini-projects to solidify your understanding of key concepts, practice explaining code, and a lot more things. We know that its hard to prepare for tech interviews, and we all need some guidance to start preparing in the right direction. To resolve this problem and clear your doubts in this article, we are going to talk about some points which are going to help you tackle the coding interview preparation process effectively. Below are some basic things that a person need to get a job in an IT company
1. Creating a Good Resume: Creating a good resume means your resume should be able to pass the initial screening of an applicant tracking system that is programmed to match keywords from the job description. Your resume should contain only information which is relevant to the job description and that too should be highlighted as the recruiter will go through your resume for few seconds. For example put the job title of the job description right under your name at the top so that ATS ranks your resume higher and the recruiter can immediately observe it.
What Is A Technical Interview
Technical interviews are a part of the hiring process for tech professionals. This process also includes phone screenings and in-person interviews, but the assignments you complete during technical interviews help interviewers evaluate your skills.
Assignments vary by company, but common tasks include:
- Debugging existing code
- Adding a feature to an existing code base
- Explaining the design and architecture of a technical problem
While youll likely be asked to solve a problem, dont worry too much about getting it right. Interviewers are typically more interested in your thought process than your solution.
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Weeks 9 & 10 System Design Interviews
System design interviews are now an integral part of the software engineering interview process particularly if you are applying for a senior role. These interviews have a significant impact on your hiring level.
Learn distributed systems concepts like Cap Theorem, Consistency, Partitioning, Load-Balancing etc.
Look at the course Grokking the System Design Interview for more design interview practice.
As part of your System Design Interviews, you are asked to design a web-scale service. Interviewers are interested in evaluating your ability to describe the different parts of a scale-able service, such as:
- How are web-servers load-balanced?
- How are large files stored?
- How is the network set up for redundancy and maximum throughput?
Youll want to practice questions like:
- Design Instagram
Check out my article the Top 10 System Design Interview Questions for Software Engineers for more example questions, tips, and resources for the System Design Interview.
Accompany Practice With Coding Interview Cheatsheets To Internalize The Must
To maximize what you get out of your practice, I recommend referring to the following coding interview cheatsheets while you are studying and practicing:
- Coding interview techniques – how to find a solution and optimize your approach
- Coding interview best practices – how to behave through the interview to exhibit hire signals
- Algorithms study cheatsheets – covers the best learning resources, must remembers and must do practice questions for every data structure and algorithm
Coding interview techniques
This cheatsheet provides you with ~10 techniques to do the 2 most important things you need to do in a coding interview: finding approaches to solve the problem presented, and optimizing the time and space complexity of your approaches.
These techniques are useful to apply when you are given questions which you have never encountered before, and to get out of being stuck.
Coding interview best practices
Top tech companies evaluate candidates on 4 main criteria: communication, problem solving, technical competency and testing. To exhibit behaviors that fulfill these criteria, I have prepared a coding interview best practices cheatsheet which outlines what you should do before, during and after coding interviews. This is based on my personal experience as an interviewee as well as my observation of top candidates as an interviewer at Facebook.
Algorithms study cheatsheets for coding interviews
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Tip #: Practice Thinking Out Loud
Of course, recruiters want to test your technical and creative skills when they give you programming tasks. But they also want to understand how you approach a problem and how you arrive at a solution.
Thats why its essential to learn how to express your thoughts aloud in an understandable way. A skilled interviewer will also ask you questions to get you talking take this chance to give them insight into how you work and think.
Thinking aloud is a skill you can practice yourself even if it may feel strange at first. To do this, solve a programming task and comment on what you do and think. Also, imagine what questions you might get and answer them, for example:
- What do you think is the problem?
- Where do you see possible edge cases?
- What solutions can you think of?
- What are the benefits of one solution over another?
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What Resources Should I Use To Prepare For A Coding Interview
“Cracking the Coding Interview,” a book by software engineer Gayle Laakmann McDowell, breaks down 189 common technical interview questions and walks the reader through each solution. It also gives tips on how to complete on-the-spot algorithms and how to handle behavioral questions.
You practice your coding skills on LeetCode, a website dedicated to helping tech professionals get jobs. It offers hundreds of test questions and even has a premier membership in which members can filter sample interview questions by specific companies.
Job and recruitment website Glassdoor is a repository for hundreds of sample interview questions that Glassdoor users were asked in their technical interviews.
Applicants can hone their soft skills and get ready for behavioral questions with Educative’s Grokking the Behavioural Interview course.
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Microsoft Coding Interview: Process
Microsoft is always looking for smart people, like all companies. But this company is looking for a candidate who is passionate about technology. During the coding interview at Microsoft, you probably wont be tested on the ins and outs of APIs, but you will have to write code on the board.
During the coding interview at Microsoft, you will first have a brief interview with a recruiter who will ask you a few questions to prepare yourself. Typically, your first interviewer will not ask you about coding and technical questions, but if you are asked about coding and technical questions, they will only serve to prepare you for your next rounds so that you are less nervous in the next round.
You will have the coding interview at Microsoft at the office itself, unlike many companies where you are interviewed in a conference room. But if the Covid-19 continues till your interview, you can have a virtual interview where you give an interview on a video call, but the entire process remains the same. On the day of your interview, you will have 4 to 5 interviews. Make sure to be nice with all your interviewers as they can fight for you to be hired or not.
Know The Company And The Interviewer
Do your research on the company. Find out what technologies and frameworks they use. What are their five year initiatives? What markets and domains do they work with? Research gives you not only good talking points and shows your interest in the company, but also helps you pinpoint where your skills align with the job requirements.
While researching the company, look up your interviewer on LinkedIn. Knowing a little bit about this individual can help you tailor your answers in a way the interviewer will best understand. For example, an HR director may not understand technical jargon whereas a lead software engineer would welcome it. Lastly, know the interviewerâs name and use it somewhere in the interview. Remember that youâre speaking to another human being, and using someoneâs name shows respect and expresses interest in possibly working with this person.
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Build The Hard Skills
Get in the habit of regularly doing code challenges. Its a much more effective way to prepare for coding interview questions than trying to cram a bunch of studying in before the big day. Its important to schedule time each day to attempt at least one code challenge. Youll get better at solving them, and youll also get better at outlining your process and speaking to it. A few great websites to help you practice code challenges in varying degrees of difficulty include LeetCode
These code challenges help build the essential hard skills you need to perform well in a coding interview technically. If youre applying for a mid-level position as a software engineer, youll want to feel pretty solid with these types of practice problems in your interview preparation. If youre gearing up for your first technical interview as a junior engineer, youll want at least some exposure and practice with these.
Explain Concepts Out Loud
Coding concepts are challenging to explain, especially when speaking to someone unfamiliar with the field. When a hiring manager wants to learn about your thought process, they might ask you to explain concepts.
Before your interview, explain complex coding topics out loud to a friend. When explaining concepts out loud, it is easier to recognize how well you grasp a topic and what you should review. Explaining concepts ahead of time helps you grow confident in verbalizing your techniques.
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