Coding interviews are no picnic. The stress of creating a real-time coding solution in 30 to 45 minutes to compete for full-time work or consultant opportunities is stressful. Even the most experienced developers dread them. However, there are ways to better prepare for this technical interview practice. As a technology recruiting firm, we’ve seen the good, bad, and the ugly play out in hundreds of coding interviews. Here are some tips to help you stand out in your next coding interview.
Do Your Prep Work
Do you have a computer science degree? When did you graduate? If it’s been a few years, we recommend brushing up on the coding fundamentals. Interviewers will expect you to have a strong command of algorithms – even if you are applying for a front-end development position. If you want to prepare for specific coding interview questions, “Cracking the Coding Interview” is often pointed to as an excellent resource, strengthening candidates’ ability to write brilliant algorithms in real-time.
Additionally, refresh yourself with recommended coding styles. Over time, it’s easy to develop idiosyncratic coding habits that, though functional, are difficult to read. That’s especially important because most interviewers can’t spontaneously create test cases to verify every possible solution on the spot. If your work is complicated and unclear, a cleaner and clearer solution created by another candidate can beat yours.
Pick the Right Language
Traditionally, interview advice from technology staffing firms encourages candidates to cater their responses to a company’s predominate languages and tech stacks. A coding interview is different. Always lead with your strength. If you were an ambidextrous pitcher, you’d use your dominant hand to ensure an MLB scout sitting in the bleachers sees you at your best. Take the same mentality into your coding interview. Most interviewers will allow you to work with your preferred programming language, so pick whichever language you know best that offers a wide range of library functions and data structures.
Go Hands Free (If the Interview Is Remote)
If a whiteboard interview is on-site, then you just need to bring yourself because all the necessary supplies are provided. However, if you are completing your interview over the phone, you’ll need extra equipment. Why? Ever tried writing code while holding a phone simultaneously? Candidates who have tried to hate the experience. It slowed them down, distracted them from their solution, and made it harder to communicate their thought process. Unless you really trust your computer’s microphone, avoid using that as well. Find a reliable Bluetooth headset and free up your hands for rapid typing and your brain for providing clear explanations.
Talk about Your Solution While You Code
Your interviewer can’t read minds, so you need to vocalize your thought process as you work. For most people, this habit doesn’t come naturally. They want to hammer out code and present the solution at the end. Nonetheless, companies want to know your thought process along the way so they can decipher your understanding of the solution and determine that you can independently get from Point A to Point B. By explaining your rationale and the advantages of your way of writing code, you elevate yourself above the competition and help your interviewer imagine what it’d be like to work with you.
Catch Your Errors Before Your Interviewer Does
With a time limit to answer coding interview questions, developers write code more haphazardly than they would otherwise. Because of that, mistakes easily happen. If you catch a mistake during your coding process, address the issue but don’t waste too much time trying to fix it. Give yourself some QA time at the end, demonstrating your commitment to quality – even when you’re working on a test problem.
Want to prepare further for your traditional interview and coding interview? Our technical recruiters are thorough, briefing you on the company of your dreams. Contact us or search our jobs to take the next step in your career.
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