Tips for How to Succeed in Coding Interviews

Tips for How to Succeed in Coding Interviews

Lessons Learned from a Twitter Engineer. What are the best tips to succeed at a coding interview and get the programming job you've been dreaming of? Watch this video and find out!

Coding interview is a daunting experience. You interview for your dream job, and a random stranger asks you to think on your feet for an hour. You are being put under a microscope, and every comment you make and every code code you write is being analyzed intensely. Beads of sweat drip from your palms, and your mind richochets everywhere. How do I solve this problem? Will my approach handle all edge cases? How many minutes are left? What’s the facial expression of my interviewer?

I agree. It’s not an easy experience. It’s tough.

1. Come up with a game plan

Before you start writing code, you should come up with a plan on how to tackle the problem. You should spend around 5 to 20 minutes on this portion. Typically my game plan involves drawing diagrams and doing test examples. For instance, whenever I get a graph problem or a recursion problem, I like to draw a tree to identify the different states that I will be visiting and the order of states that I will be visiting. More importantly, drawing these trees highlights any logic I may need to perform, such as backtracking.

Coming up with a game plan has several advantages. First, the interviewer can inform you if you are heading in the wrong direction. If so, you just saved yourself 30 minutes from writing all that wrong code! Second, it is easy to pinpoint what data structures and variables will be needed to solve the problem.

If your initial game plan is not the most efficient, that is okay! Do not worry about defining the most efficient solution early on. This is because it is better to have a working code than a broken code or even worse no code. This tends to be the downfall of numerous interview candidates.

Once you have implemented your game plan, you can come back to refining your approach to be more optimal.

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