Technical interviewing takes skill and is actually a skill in itself. In this AMA-style discussion (now on-demand!), experts helped jobseekers problem-solve their way to nailing their next technical interview. Keep reading for candid and actionable advice from the experts.
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I think it’s important to note this is a multi step process. It’s not a one and done situation. I would read and reread the job description, do some research on the company, and review the fundamentals of your own technical specializations. For the more personal side, practice talking about your professional background. I recommend Interview Kickstart’s Technical Interview Checklist.
Consider the stages of the interview ahead of time. First, you have a phone screen, a sort of a “tell me about yourself and why are you applying.” Then, there’s usually a take-home assessment, which is preliminary and usually done through a test coding platform or a shared doc. From there, you’d have an on-site or in-person evaluation where your programming skills are assessed in real time by an interviewer.
If you are on the Hired platform, you could take advantage of assessments to showcase your skills to employers. A lot of the companies on our platform prioritize candidates who have taken these Hired assessments. Keep in mind that this doesn’t replace a coding interview and is more of a preliminary screen.
In an ideal coding interview, you are given a problem, or an unseen question. The interviewer wants to see whether you can design an algorithm or a recipe that correctly solves the given question by relying on fundamental computer science principles and problem solving strategies. Your solution also needs to run fast, take the least possible time, and use very little space.
Once you have designed a correct and efficient algorithm, you have to implement it in the programming language of your choice with a high probability that the code would run correctly the first time you execute it. They’re testing your problem solving ability and your coding fluency. Both of these depend on knowledge of computer science fundamentals. That’s how I look at the structure of a coding interview.
It would be to your advantage to consider the state of the market. Look at the time we’re in right now. This is a great time to take advantage of the downtime and prep. Take the time now to land an interview you really want. It may benefit your career in the long run to invest time and energy up front. When I say timeliness, I’m talking about the recent layoffs folks have been experiencing and the impact of that. Really consider if you have free time and do the prep work. We have a great eBook on layoffs and how to bounce back better than ever.
The reality is that competition is high. People share frequently asked questions online on platforms like Leetcode. Everyone knows what questions are likely to be asked and they’re not easy to solve. Prep is necessary, otherwise you’re going to stumble on the spot.
There’s a misconception that interview prep is a waste of time because you basically have to memorize the solutions to those frequently asked problems. If you prep the right way, it’s an opportunity to relearn the fundamentals of computer science. Preparing properly increases your chances of getting multiple offers and thereby a significantly higher salary.
When you start a new job, you have that confidence in yourself because you cracked the interview based on your understanding of computer science principles. You become a better engineer as a result of preparing in the right way.