How to Prepare for Your First Coding Job Interview?
Coding job interviews can be more demanding because you’ll need to show what you know. Empty words just won’t do the trick.
Before you step into an interview, there are qualities you should work on and procedures you should undertake beforehand. These procedures will aid in smoothening your stiffness in the interview room and make your experience more seamless.
What to do beforehand
Sleep – sleep deprivation is dangerous before and interview as it can leave you embarrassed while looking for words to express yourself. A tired mind also makes for a clumsy one which ends up making simple mistakes you wouldn’t otherwise have done. Sleep offers the rest needed to keep you sharp and prepared to tackle any challenge they throw at you without fear.
Proprietary information – look up the company and understand everything about it. With such information, you can tailor your answers to support their goals and core values. It would also make you look more invested and interested in the company. Knowing their domains of work and initiatives can also help in predicting the kind of questions that they would ask during the interview.
Mock interviews – doing practice by yourself may not be enough preparation. Recreating the interview setup helps build up confidence and gives an idea of how the room will be. It also helps in memorizing the answers to common questions that you don’t think to answer when by yourself. Make sure to look for a good partner to play the interviewer and good questions that challenge you.
Work samples – any work or projects that you have previously undertaken will serve well as a showcase of your skills and knowledge in coding. Coding is more practical than most other jobs and, therefore, requires proof of ability rather than words only. They also set you apart and place more of the employer’s consideration in you. Don’t show any work that isn’t yours or you don’t understand, it might cost you if your competence is tested.
Practice makes perfect – you may be asked to code during the interview, it would be nice if you knew how to do it. Look up problems and try to solve them before looking them up. Only look them up after making your best efforts. You should also try and solve the problems on a time limit. Such a skill would come in handy in the interview, where your time is limited. It also betters your spontaneity.
Qualities to showcase
To achieve this, you have to have your affairs in order before and when you get to the interview. You have to supply an answer to the questions asked without hesitation. Looking at the ceiling and scratching your head to remember things doesn’t quite spell organization. It is advisable that you come up with a structure for answering questions instead of mumbling and saying ‘uummm’ when asked a tricky question.
Adequate prior preparation is a prerequisite of a successful interview. It brings a certain degree of confidence when one has done their due diligence and is ready for an interview. To help also in becoming more confident during the meeting, practice the question-answer session with someone serious while answering them aloud.
The ability to solve problems quickly and effectively is an incredible asset that all companies require and desire. You should be spontaneous and simple in your thinking if presented with a problem. Looking up common programming problems will help you in acquainting yourself with their solutions and how they may be useful in your interview.
Show them that it would be your delight to work in such a company. Real enthusiasm goes a long way to convince than a smiling façade with no zeal. Think of something that excites about anything related to the interview and show interest in it. A passionate interviewee makes for a convincing one. Be careful not to bring it up too late: they usually rank you within the first ten minutes.
Be aware of your surroundings when you enter the room. This helps in creating a sense of familiarity rather than awkward alienation. You should also focus on the interviewer’s body language cues that would tell whether you are doing it right or not. When aware of your environment, you will know whether you should change your approach or take it up a notch higher. You also have your own body language, which the interviewer also reads. Be sure to convey a positive message of confidence and interest rather than indifference and distraction.
What helps with building confidence and self-assurance before the interview is preparation. Knowing what you can expect, at least in some aspects, can take some of the pressure off. So, here it is. An overview of how your interview can look like that will help you prepare for that occasion.
Typical Interview Structure
Every company can adapt the interview question according to their needs. However, the most common interview structure goes like this:
For this portion of an interview, you should expect questions about:
- data structures
- the specific technologies
- frameworks (depending on which framework they use in that company)
For algorithms and data structures, you should’ve been using Learneroo, Hackerrank, and Leetcode. You can practice daily with Leetcode even during the applying process to bring your skills to perfection.
An interviewer can assess your knowledge by letting you run the code (in an interactive tool or IDE). Another scenario is to ask you to write the code without much guidance on a whiteboard or Google Doc. Be prepared for all of it.
If you want to practice specific questions for each, the links will guide you to lots of questions that you can use, as well as appropriate answers.
In this part of the interview, you’ll be asked to design the system and architecture for a specific product like a search engine or a social network.
Don’t worry if you struggle with these questions because even the professionals find them difficult sometimes. There are some parts that you’ll know, like databases, cache, DNS server, load balancer, and so on.
What will help you out is to ask the interview questions about the system that you need to work on. Their answers will give you some guidance and help you to carry out the task.
An engineering manager at Facebook was kind enough to create an open-source page with insights into how to approach the design interview questions so head to Github and read that section.
A perfect employee isn’t the one that just has all the answers. He is the one that is also a pleasant and communicative person that shows ambition.
Here are some behavioral questions you can expect as well as how to construct the answers:
– Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
Focus on an example in which you were faced with a challenge, and you managed to provide your employer with a solution. You can also give an example of a mistake that you made during your studies. However, you also need to explain to them in detail how did you manage to fix that mistake. For example, you sit all night until you perfected the code, and you actually met the deadline.
– Give an example of how you set goals.
The answer to this question can even be how you managed to get this job interview. Explain how you set your goal to work in this company and directed all of the efforts to gain skills and expertise that will get you this interview. List the courses that you took or the tasks that you practiced.
– Give an example of how you worked on a team.
You can easily use an example from your college years here, especially if you don’t have any prior work experience. Put the emphasis on your organizational skills as well as your desire to help your team members. For example, say that a professor gave you independent work within the team project, but you suggested that you meet up and help each other out.
– What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
Every employer wants an employee that can manage his/ her temper and cooperate well with others. Give an example in which you handled the disagreement by giving a strong case and suggesting a compromise.
Remember to research your area of expertise. Look at the latest news on any projects or breakthroughs to keep abreast of the information that may be important during the interview.
Work on a good first impression. Proper grooming, etiquette, and civility all play a vital role in the image created the first minute into the interview. Ensure that your conduct from the time you enter the company’s premises till the time you leave is commendable. Punctuality should also be a top priority if you are to show the seriousness with which you take the interview. Remember to also be honest and genuine in your interview. As humans, we are inclined to primarily judge a book by its cover, so make yours as intriguing as can be. You only get one shot at it, don’t mess it up.
Some Final Thoughts
As intimidating as the interview can seem, once you face the first one, you’ll realize that there is nothing to fear. These preparation questions will get you all set to face your interviewers and amaze them.
Before you go and start practicing for the interview, there is one more crucial thing that you need to remember. That is, you don’t have to know everything. It is okay if you don’t know the answer, but you do need to show the will to learn.
About the author: Daniela McVicker is a contributor to TopWritersReview. She graduated from Durham University and has an MA in Psychological Science. Perfecting her skills has always been her goal so Daniela is inspired to know as much as she can about different subjects.