Performing in a Coding Interview - dummies

Performing in a Coding Interview

By Nikhil Abraham

Part of Getting a Coding Job For Dummies Cheat Sheet

You’ve filtered coding job postings, networked with dozens of people, created a great portfolio site, and finally landed one or more interviews. Use these tips to maximize the chances of turning the interview into an offer for employment:

  • Prepare diligently: Review the company’s website, blog posts, news releases, tweets, and any other social media to learn more about the company’s culture, technologies, and past clients. For public companies, browse annual reports to get a sense for past performance and future strategic goals.

  • Advocate for yourself: You know what you want and why, so make sure you communicate that to your future potential employer. Think about why you want to work at the company, which product you’d be most excited to work on, and what you want to spend the next few months and years learning technically. If you don’t have any preferences or thoughts, it can be hard for an employer to believe that you’re excited about the company and that you’ll have the motivation to keep learning on the job.

  • Sharpen technical skills: Assessment of technical skills are the big part of any coding interview, so review code for programs you’ve already built and make sure you understand why you made certain decisions and used certain technologies. A big part of your job will be deciding what tools to use and when, and employers want to see as soon as possible your thought process on how you choose your tools.

    If you’re asked a technical question and you just don’t know the answer, be upfront that you don’t know (no one knows everything). But then do your best to reason and think out loud to drive to the best possible guess.

  • Show your fit: Many candidates are technically competent but fail the fit interview. Make sure you understand before the interview the company’s culture and values so you’ll have time to see whether you’ll fit in.

  • Ask questions: Demonstrate your passion by asking questions that are not answered on the company website. Your interviewer has likely just spent thirty minutes asking you personal questions, so feel free to ask some personal questions of your own about the role, the work, or the company.

  • Follow up: After the interview is over, your interviewers will categorize you as a definite hire, possible hire, or rejected candidate. Many people fall into the possible hire category, and following up with your interviewers can increase your chances of receiving an offer. After your interview, send a short email thanking your interviewers, reinforcing your key skills, and addressing any weak areas that came up during the interview. Additionally, include a brief reference to any personal interests you shared with your interviewers to help them remember you.