What To Do If Youre Stumped By A Question Or Feel Like Youre Not Connecting With The Interviewer
If you sense that an interview isnt going well, its a great time to pause and check in with your interviewer. Heres how we recommend you do that:
If an interview is not going well, be honest! I am quick to say when I don’t know something and try my best to be vocal about how I would approach something. Ask lots of questions. Think of the interview collaboratively. The interviewer, more often than not, wants to see you succeed, and wants to know what it’d be like to work with you. So, treat them as a friendly coworker. – Sarah , Frontend Engineer at Splice
Cadran , Software Engineer & Founder at Elpha shares some important reminders from the hiring managers perspective. If you feel like its not going well, it may have more to do with the hiring manager than you think!
You can also ask to take a short break!If you’re stuck , it’s OK to ask the interviewer: “Can I have a few moments to think?”, or ask for a restroom break. Have water nearby, taking a mini-break for water can help. – Lirida , Founder and CTO
Youll get through it. And once you do, itll be your turn to ask the hiring managers any questions you have for them. We recommend choosing a few from the below list!
Congratulations Youve Landed A Job Interview Now What
First off, lets just put it out there – a technical interview is a stressful situation, no matter how experienced you are. Its ok not to know everything and its ok to make mistakes.
Ive had a couple ofbad interviews in the beginning of my career. Ill never forget the one where I had a complete blackout andforgot all the technical phrases to explain about my projects. Yes, it happens, but Ive learned from those experiences that the right preparation makes all the difference.
To own the interview, you need to practice every aspect of it, from introduction to coding questions. Focus on practicing your abilities to solve problems effectively and talk with confidence about yourself.
In a technical interview, youll probably have to solve a problem by writing code, but they didnt bring you in to do just that. The company wants to see how you think, act and code its on you to communicate it.
In this article, Ive spread out my tips across a timeline leading up to the interview: week, day, minutes.Plus, what you can do right after to improve yourself even more. Interviewing is not an easy process and my #1 tip for balance is to keep your cool before as well as after every interview.
Key Topics During The Interview
- About yourself. Past experience.
Usually an interview starts with an acquaintance. At this stage, they look closely at you, assess the overall adequacy and look for clues for further conversation. Ideally, you need to have real projects with your participation behind you. Educational projects, the code of which is posted on the github, are also suitable.
At this point, be prepared to answer the following questions:
- Whats the last book on programming you read?
- What are you most proud of as a programmer?
- What is the most difficult problem that you solved in a previous project or training project?
- How did you test the code to work?
- How was the development process organized at the previous site?
- Why did you leave your previous job?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Create multiple projects on github
- Answer the questions described above for yourself
- Get to know extreme programming ideas
There is a category of tasks that has been fashionable to ask in interviews before when the company wanted to hire front-end developers. Microsoft was the first to ask this, then many others followed suit. Here are some examples:
- Why are the hatches round?
- How many tennis balls can the bus fit?
- How many piano tuners are there in the world?
- How to move Mount Fuji?
- If the fuse-cord burns for one hour, then how to make it burn out in half an hour?
Also Read: 3 Supplements That Can Benefit Gamers
- Operating systems and networks
You May Like: Questions To Ask Cfo In Interview
Onsite Interview And Whiteboard Challenge
Now weve arrived at the most intimidating part of the entire tech interview process. At tiny startups, onsite technical interviews might be a lot less formal than at bigger companies. Heck, there may not even be a whiteboard to do a coding exercise on! Still, whatever the company size, it never hurts to do coding interview preparation so youre ready for any situation that may arise.
What to do during the onsite technical interview + whiteboard challenge
1. Ask clarifying questions before you even start writing code.
I appreciate it when someone takes the time to evaluate the question he faces in the interview, says Refael . It shows me that this person is calculated and rather than just writing code, he sees the whole picture.
Ask questions around assumptions of the question, and try to reason about the question from a bottom-up perspective, adds Chris.
2. Talk through your code to give the interviewer a window into your thoughts.
What happens in a technical interview is as much about the journey as the destination. Its designed to test a candidates communication and problem-solving skills, says Refael. More important than the solution is how they work at getting the solution. Can they articulate their thoughts while writing out the code on the whiteboard? Are they putting together a clear response to the question?
3. Speak clearly and precisely.
A few of Chriss specific tips to help your interview skills:
How to stand out in the whiteboard interview
What Does A Coding Interview Generally Entail
Typically, interviews for a tech job start with a casual phone call from the company’s recruiter. Then, the applicant moves on to a technical interview, which usually lasts about an hour and often takes place over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts. It includes a series of technical questions and allows the interviewer to watch the applicant code in real-time.
Questions may focus on the applicant’s ability to build or debug, or prompt the applicant to demonstrate their competence with data structures and algorithms.
This is a chance to show off your coding skills and how you work with others. With the interviewer present, you can talk through your thought processes for completing the challenge, which gives you an opportunity to demonstrate problem-solving skills.
While the interviewer is evaluating your competence in completing the challenge, they are also watching your diligence in checking and correcting the code. The interviewer may assess your logical reasoning, use of best practices, and communication.
In addition to the coding challenges, applicants are typically asked different behavioral questions. Questions might cover the applicant’s experience with various programming languages and development tools and what skills the applicant would bring to the position.
You May Like: Interview Questions For A Cfo
The Basics Of Computer Science Algorithms And Data Structures
Here is the simple question for you are you able to discuss algorithms? Algorithmic techniques and data structures are applied in solving programming challenges. Because of this, tech recruiters might test your knowledge of algorithms and data structures. Questions about algorithms and data structures are an excellent way for recruiters to find an intersection between practical experience and their talent. Sometimes, not being able to answer a question wont affect your performance. The hiring managers simply want to learn about your talent, but you should still prepare. Update your knowledge of basic algorithmic techniques for computational problems frequently arising in practical application. These may be sorting and searching, greedy algorithms, divide and conquer, dynamic programming. This step is especially useful for candidates with less experience and a great talent and understanding of computer science. Even if you dont have a lot of experience, hiring managers can discover the potential for incredible achievements in you.
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.
Recommended Reading: Prepare For System Design Interview
Describe Your Ideal Environment As A Developer
Your interviewer may ask this to determine what environment is conducive to your best work as a developer. Be honest and direct with your answer, while also considering the layout and culture of the company you’re applying to.
Example:”I do my best work in a quiet environment. Despite this, I enjoy working in a cross-functional team that fosters collaboration. I also prefer to work in an open-layout environment that allows me to communicate with my team members face-to-face. This helps me better understand any issues or concerns they have should they arise. Though I prefer communicating in person, I’m also well-versed in various communication technologies that help ease communication from afar.”
Dive Deeper Into The Building Blocks Required To Answer These Questions
After going through a few of the above examples, you have probably heard lots of new terms and technologies that you are not so familiar with. In order to be able to answer these types of questions you will need to dive deeper into a lot of different technologies.
My suggestion is to start with the following videos that provide an overview about how to design scaleable systems.
- Building Dynamic Websites Harvard CS75 by David Malan. The linked video is from lecture 9, which summarizes the whole class, but if you want to dive deeper into specific areas, you can also view the rest of the videos in the class
- Gaurev Sens YouTube Tutorials
- Grokking the System Design Interview . This is a good list of topics that you need to know
Finally, if have enough time and really want to dive deep into system design, then you can read about more advanced concepts at the following resources:
- The High Scalability blog has a series of posts titled Real Life Architectures that explain how some popular websites were architected
- The book Designing Data-Intensive Applications by Martin Klepmann is the best book regarding system design
- The explains how Amazon has built their own architecture
- If you really really want to dive deeper into how existing systems are built, you can also read the published papers on GFS, Dynamo, Haystack, Cassandra, Bigtable, Raft, Paxos, Chubby, Zookeeper, Spanner, Haystack, Kafka, Azure Storage, , Memcache
Recommended Reading: Questions To Ask Cfo During Interview
Ask Interviewers What It Is Like To Work There
Usually, at the end of each interview youll have a few minutes to ask interviewers a couple of questions. This is your chance to learn more about what it is like to work for that company.
It is best to have a few relevant and thoughtful questions prepared for that. Then you wont have to come up with something on the spot.
If youre interviewed by your potential future teammates, you may ask what their team is like, what they are working on, what tech they use, what your onboarding and first tasks may look like, and so on.
If you are interviewed by developers from different parts of the organisation, it is a chance to ask similar questions at each interview to better understand what the company culture is like. For example, what your interviewers like about the company, whether people work there for years, or they leave in a year or two, whether engineers feel they have enough time to write good code and build quality software, how team decide what tech and processes to use, and so on.
Interviewers in general are happy to answer candidates questions. Candidates who ask relevant and thoughtful questions at an interview usually make a good impression on their interviewers as that shows that they are interested in the role enough to want to learn more about it.
Landing A Job As A Java Developer
Although some new programmers might question Javas relevance in todays tech world, its an incredibly popular choice for coders looking to work as a developer. There are more than nine million Java developers worldwide, and more than three billion smart phones run on Java today. The recent success of Java8 is a promising indication that the language will dominate the software development landscape for years to come.
Hiring managers will tell a student that Java is one of the most in-demand skills they can learn. The question is how can students best prepare for the notoriously difficult interview questions when trying to land their first job?
Going in, students should know that they can be questioned on any version of Java to date, and that many developer job interviews are conducted at least partially in writing. This means the interviewee will be expected to perform the answer on a whiteboard or on paper.
Here is an example of how part of an interview might go, and suggested answers:
Q: Describe what all the different parts of the main method declaration mean, and describe what each does.
Q: What is the main difference in fail-fast and fail-safe iterators?
A: Whether the collection can be modified while its being iterated. Fail-fast iterators do not allow this and fail-safe iterators do.
Q: Why is it more secure to store sensitive data in a character array over a String?
Read Also: Questions To Ask The Cfo In An Interview
Five Essential Steps To Prepare For Your Next Programming Interview
There are at least two kinds of programming interviews. One type is where you are asked for details about your prior work experience. The other one is where they put you in a room, give you a problem, and stare at you while you fumble around with markers on a whiteboard for 45 minutes. The first focuses on what you have done in the past. The second focuses on what you can do in the room right now without looking anything up. You should be prepared for either.
How To Do Company Research
The easiest way to evaluate whether youve put enough research into the company that youre interviewing is to consider the following factors:
- Analyze All Online Sources Available – Visiting their homepage is a good place to start, but how about checking our Glassdoor, Twitter accounts, and even YouTube or Instagram? Who are the founders? Who are the people you will be working with? Where are they coming from? Check LinkedIn but dont stop there. Use all your available resources.
- Look At Location – Consider the location that the employer is based in. Do not leave this to the very end when you are staring at an offer, as if it were the barrel of a loaded gun. Be open-minded, but read up about the location properly and with complete sincerity to the role. Ask questions, read city guides, get a feel for the place. There is, of course, no way you can form a complete opinion about a region without visiting in person but at least make an effort to know what the area is like better.
- Communicate Well – Poor verbal communication skills account for over 50% of failed interviews. Most developers are under the false impression that it is a lack of technical proficiency that denies many roles, whereas the actual reason is the inability to prove basic professional interpersonal communication skills.
You May Like: What To Wear For An Interview Women
Preparing For The Systems Design And Coding Interview
At Big Tech and high-growth startups, coding and systems design interviews are common – and fairly standard. A lot of people have asked me for preparation advice for these. Here is what I used when getting ready for an E5/E6 Facebook interview, and the one at Uber – where I was hired as a senior software engineer . It’s the same resources I recommend to people who are preparing for Big Tech or high-growth tech company interviews.
Preparing For The Software Engineer Interview
What can you expect for your interview? Depending on the company, the interview process can include different steps in various orders. But generally, itll look something like this:
Initial phone screen: youll speak with a recruiter who will discuss the details of the role and determine if you might be a good fit. Likely a 15-30 minute conversation.
Technical phone/video screens: these will be discussions with the hiring manager where youll be given coding challenges. You may be given a couple of problems to solve throughout the call, which will typically be 45 minutes to an hour.
Onsite interviews: youll be meeting with potential managers and teammates for a technical portion, a couple of behavioral sessions, and possibly a cultural fit interview. These generally include a system design interview and whiteboarding, where youre presented with a problem to solve in real-time. These can last between three to four hours.
With that rough idea of the process, lets get into interview preparation. Heres your 8-step checklist:
Recommended Reading: Interview With Cfo