Technical Interviews

Body language (photo 2) | At breakfast, Lucas was communicat… | Flickr
Actual footage of me preparing for tech interviews!

In this blog post, I will talk about my experience interviewing in this tech field! Prior to the tech field, I worked in marketing so the only interviews I did were non-technical. Or at the very most, technical in the sense that they asked me if I knew how to use the basic features of Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel. And I also remember one marketing agency I interviewed for, they asked me to sell them a pen! Just like in the movie Wolf of Wall Street. Although I am thankful that I am no longer doing those types of interviews, technical interviews are another type of beast.

When I did my coding bootcamp, the instructor warned us of the infamous coding interviews. It wasn’t until about 2 years later that I actually experienced it. It was around the end of 2020 and early 2021 when I was applying for internships did I experience real coding assessments. Typically companies will send you an automated coding challenge that you have to complete in like 1 hour. If you pass that round, then you move onto live interviews where an interviewer will ask you some questions about your background, maybe some technical questions about the technologies you have listed on your resume, and then lastly some form of a coding challenge. I remember my very first coding assessment. I believe it was for Palantir Technologies, who are known for their very difficult coding questions. I was so nervous but thankfully the interviewers were fairly nice. I don’t remember the exact questions but it was something about finding a value in a sorted 2D matrix. What I learned for this interview was that you always need to say what is on your mind, even if it may not be right, you have to tell them what you are thinking and they may even help you to complete the problem.

Fast forward to 2021 and I had gone through various coding assessments and live coding rounds for Summer 2021 Software Engineering internships. Two that really stand out to me and that I would like to share are for Workday and Walmart. Workday was 2 technical rounds. Both rounds involved asking me questions about data structures and algorithms, debugging problems in JavaScript, and trying to solve an algorithm problem. Walmart was 3 technical rounds that started with an online automated coding assessment. The next round involved a take home assignment to build an app that did XYZ, which I had to present to the interviewers. Lastly, the final round consisted of a very difficult algorithm problem that I had to solve in front of an interviewer. For Workday, I was able to solve all the problems that they asked, but for Walmart, I was not able to figure out the question in the final round. I ended up getting an internship offer from both places. I learned from these experiences that yes sometimes companies will search for the candidate that can solve everything almost perfectly, BUT at the same time you are competing against other people and if other people can’t solve it either, then you still have a great chance. Attitude is also key. For Walmart’s final round, I had no idea how to solve it, but I kept a positive attitude and kept trying different solutions.

I’m by far an expert in doing these technical coding interviews. I still have so much to learn. But from my experience, I’ve seen that every interview is different depending on the position/company. If the position is a general software engineer, then mostly likely they will test you on those algorithm questions to see how you think and problem solve. But if the position is like a front end engineer that is more closely related to web development, then it may be different. For an Adobe interview, I was asked to fetch an API in React and display the results onto the page. No leetcode style algorithm questions.

Technical interviews are so stressful! My advice to anyone out there reading this is to stay positive. So many times I felt like an idiot because I couldn’t solve a coding question. But from everyone I talk to, even ones at top tier companies, they say it’s all part of the process and they struggle with those algorithm questions too. The interview process is often all based on luck. It really depends on what the interviewer wants to ask you and also how you compare to the other batch of candidates in your pool. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just keep doing leetcode and practicing the technologies that you have listed on your resume.

I am graduating in June of 2022 so I have started job search for full time opportunities. I am currently in the interview process for Amazon and Microsoft. I will keep you all updated about how they go, fingers crossed!!

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