Job Search Tip of the Week #40 (2017)
Caressa Moy | October 2, 2017 | 9:00 am
Can You Code on Command?
Preparation is essential for any interview. And if you work with code or are a developer, the interview process is more than simply discussing your résumé and experience: You also need to be ready to code on demand.
What to expect
Having a general idea of what to expect is the first step. You might begin with a phone interview or online application; either of these can include coding questions and tests, such as live code debugging.
When the time comes for an in-person interview, you’ll likely meet with multiple people. These individuals might include other developers and hiring managers. You could be asked to demonstrate your skills again, this time on a whiteboard or laptop.
In addition to your coding skills, you also need to consider the types of questions you’ll probably face. Jumping into C++ author Alex Allain points out typical types of questions:
- Brain teasers. Allain notes that although “the ‘aha’ question, the deductive reasoning problem, and the more open-ended questions” can be difficult to prepare for, your best bet is to practice and try to show off your problem-solving skills. Walk the interviewer through your thought process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Language questions. Brush up on the main languages that you use for coding. If possible, find out which ones the company primarily uses so that you can focus on those, but be prepared for questions about other languages as well.
- Coding questions. To prepare for these types of activities, brush up on your skillset through reading or online practice. And try not to focus on small errors; rather, your goal is to show that you understand the fundamental ideas behind the task and can work under pressure.
How to prepare
Now that you know what to expect, how can you prepare? Consider polishing your knowledge with a book, like one of those listed at Coding for Interviews, or with free online coding challenges at sites such as Cprogramming.com or CareerCup.com. Or, join a programming group at a local university or enter an online competition for practice coding under pressure. Be sure to practice with a whiteboard, so you aren’t too reliant on your machine.
Remember, interviewers want to know how you think. They want assurance that you’ll be able to deal with unexpected events and work under stress. You can put their minds at ease by engaging the interviewers. Talk out loud as you code so they can follow along with your problem solving process. Show initiative by asking questions if something isn’t clear, and test your code to show your attention to detail. Don’t hesitate to express your enthusiasm about the work and point out your special interests.
Finally, be sure to talk with your CTC staffing specialist about the company you’re interviewing with. We’ll be able to give you information provided by the hiring manager about the company’s goals, specifics about the position, and more that will help you prepare for a particular interview.
For more tips on how to tackle the technical interview, visit our website.
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