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Coding Interview Advice From Experts

Coding interviews are a challenge. If you want to ace them, then you’re going to have to put the time into doing your research and perfecting your soft skills, as well as your coding skills. Here is some advice from industry leaders on how to ace a coding interview.

#1 Practice in a realistic interview setting beforehand

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Mock technical interviews are the best way to get acclimated to the interview process. You’ll solve coding problems like data structures and algorithms in an environment designed to simulate a real interview, without the high stakes and stress. A mock coding interview will also help you to determine where your weaknesses are, so you can focus on improving them before the real thing.

For example, Pramp offers a platform for software engineers and developers to practice coding interviews, including specialized technical interviews like systems design and front-end interviews. When you can do a run-through of an interview with a partner who will give you feedback before you have to meet with the hiring manager, you’ll have a much better chance at performing with confidence and having a successful interview.

Contributors: Valerie Streif from Pramp

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#2 Formatting and Spatial Awareness

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The lack of spatial awareness demonstrates candidates will suffer with issues when navigating through deeply nested code.

I find nothing more cringe-worthy than to see poorly nested HTML, CSS, and JS code during a technical interview.  The lack of spatial awareness demonstrates candidates will suffer with issues when navigating through deeply nested code, i.e. finding that elusive closing tag.

While it's easier to maintain a flatter JS code structure thanks to ES6 async/await promises, that's generally is not the case with HTML. Navigating the open and closing tags of proper HTML structure can be daunting, yet manageable with practice.

Another benefit of having a solid HTML structure is the ability to fully utilize CSS's positioning rules: flexbox, CSS-grid, position, transforms, display, floats, etc. They all require a solid understanding of the HTML structure beneath it—awareness that only comes from the discipline instilled by proper spatial awareness in code structure. 

The takeaway here is, format your code, guys. Nothing spells noob more than poorly-formatted code. Having that Prettier plugin is not going to cut it. I still see candidates make those mistakes as they live code—especially when the entire document formats on save!

Contributors: Art Longbottom from Origin Code Academy

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#3 Show Off Your Problem Solving Skills

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Your ability to write code is not the only important skill you need to show off in an interview. A savvy interviewer will want to understand how a candidate would respond when facing a problem that they don’t know how to solve. We want to understand how the person thinks about solving a problem and what their range of experience is for solving it. In particular, it’s beneficial to show your willingness to ask questions and probe the goals of the exercise, your willingness to listen carefully, and then finally whether you’re open to coaching. Interviewers will often provide feedback and see how the candidate responds to that feedback.

Contributors: Marielle Smith from GoodHire

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#4 Skill, Experience and Excitement

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Interviewers want to hire someone who is going to both be successful at the job and enjoy doing it. They go hand-in-hand -- if we’re considering two candidates who have equal coding skills and experience, we’re going to hire the candidate that openly expresses their excitement and interest in the position, and that they’re passionate about the work they’ll be doing to support the company’s mission or product. If you want the job, make sure you say “I want this job, and here’s why....”!

Contributors: Marielle Smith from GoodHire

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#5 Study from a coding book

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The best advice is to run through a book like Cracking the Coding Interview or The Elements of Programming Interviews. Both books have a training schedule that gets results whether you've got a week or a year before your next interview.

Contributors: Adam Conrad from Anon Consulting

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#6 Get used to writing code with pen and paper

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I can't tell you how many interviews I went to where the interviewer asked me to solve a problem in code, but required me to write the solution on a piece of paper.

For example: Write a SQL query that updates all rows in the Cars table where the model is Ford. Give me a computer, and I can type that out in seconds. Forced to write it out, and I would balk. There's just some mental block there that interviewees have to be prepared for.

Contributors: Cody Swann from Gunner Technology

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#7 Never plagiarize

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We give paid homework assignments to interviewees - Create a React Native app that displays the time in 10 different time zones. Something really easy but will force the candidate to prove they know what they say they know. The problem is, a lot of candidates will have someone do it for them. I don't mind at all if they use open source or research the solution and take code snippets from elsewhere, but when someone does the work for you, we find out because we walk through the project with the candidate and ask specific questions about their thinking.

Contributors: Cody Swann from Gunner Technology

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#8 Brush up on your coding skills

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It’s always a good idea to brush up on your coding skills before sitting down for a technical interview. Sites like Codewars are helpful because you can work with others on coding challenges in a number of languages. While some people use it tolearn a language, many developers use these sites to perfect their skills and expose them to new methods.Also, sometimes in technical interviews, there will be a single question that seems extremely difficult. In these cases, you usually aren’t expected to finish the entire question - but you should try your best and include a brief explanation of how you would have finished it if you have more time. In these situations, it’s important to stay calm and confident in your skills.

Contributors: Payne Richards from Codal

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Written by Zak Parker

Article Writer, Pianist, Internet Marketing Enthusiast; I delve into a variety of creative mediums and take advantage of what they have to offer. With experience in SEO, Dropshipping, Affiliate Marketing and Advertising, I'm a plethora of general marketing knowledge and enjoy helping those new to the game get their foot through the door. I'm always excited to hear of the latest method, or if the chance presents itself, create my own.

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