As much as developers hate them, and as critical as the industry has become of them, the whiteboard technical interview is still a tool that many companies use in their hiring process. Failing the technical interview can be mortifying, but lots of skilled developers fail the whiteboard every day, usually because they didn’t take the time to get themselves sufficiently ready for the day. Here are some tips and strategies to help you prepare for and survive your next technical interview.
Hit the Books Early and Often
Technical interviews are high-pressure scenarios that are typically timed. If you struggle to remember an algorithm, the interviewer(s) often push you to guess your way through, which means you’ve ruined your chances from the start.
Developers should study for a technical interview well in advance. Don’t cram at the last minute, but take time each day to solve two or three coding problems focusing on:
- Trees, focusing on binary search trees
- Big O notation
- Hash tables
- Object oriented design
- System design
- Binary search algorithms
- Merge sort and quick sort algorithms
- Breadth-first and depth-first search algorithms
- Linked lists
- Bit manipulation
You never know what type of problems you will be presented within a technical interview, but according to Medium, Skillcrush and other tech sites, these are the most common areas of focus. Doing a little bit every day ensures you won’t get stuck cramming at the last minute.
If you’ve immersed yourself in coding problems in the weeks leading up to the technical interview, you should be sufficiently prepared for whatever is thrown at you, but you’ll need to physically and mentally gear up for the big day. Get plenty of rest the night before the interview.
The day of the interview eat a healthy breakfast and bring a bottle of water with you. Most companies will offer you coffee or water, but take one along, just in case. And it should go without saying that you should be five to ten minutes early for your technical interview to get things started on the right foot.
Listen Carefully But Ask Questions
When the first problem is stated, listen carefully and write it down. If you need clarification, ask for it. Some interviewers will state the problem in a confusing manner on purpose to see if candidates speak up. The goal is to solve the problem, and if you need to ask a few questions in order to tackle the solution, do it.
As you begin your work, don’t be afraid to talk it out. You don’t have to stand there in silence. Working through the solution out loud provides interviewers with insight into your problem-solving process. Finally, let your personality show through as you work. Remember that interviewers hire people they like, so don’t be too stiff or standoffish.
If you are an IT professional looking to grow your career by seeking new challenges with innovative companies, the recruiters at Talon want to hear from you. We can match you with a position and an employer that will help you utilize your talents and achieve your professional goals. Contact us today to start the conversation.