Preparing for job interview

This is a discussion on Preparing for job interview within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; I went for a job interview today and it didn't go so well. One of the interviewers red a long ...

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    Preparing for job interview

    I went for a job interview today and it didn't go so well. One of the interviewers red a long question and had me write a program to solve it. I could have done it if I was at a computer but they wanted me to write it on a white board and I got nerves and froze up. It was embarrassing. Is that common for interviews? I'm not use to writing programs while people watch me, and especially when it's not on computers.

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    Sounds like a test to see how well you do under pressure.

    Not fun at the best of times.

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    I've gotten that at just about every single programming job interview (I've been to about 5). I don't find them difficult, though. I like to think out loud, too, and I think they like that, too, to get an insight into your thought process.

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    That's what the guy said when I took a minute to think "tell us what your thinking?"
    I talk in my head but I can't verbalize it to other people

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    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    Yeah most job interviews will have some form of that. Just practice (by doing more interviews), and you will get better at it.

    What I don't like is when they expect you to write picture-perfect code on the white board rather than general pseudo-code. Most of my interviewers were okay with me writing pseudocode, but I had one or two interviewers in the past who were extremely picky and wanted to see every single semicolon in its place on that white board. That was annoying, and I would never expect that if I were an interviewer.
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    This is where "proof of ability" pieces can be vey helpful...

    Each programmer should write some sample aps in their chosen field and have them ready to present at job interviews. As I mentioned in another thread, many years back we had a couple of guys apply for a job where I was working... one came in with a folder filled with diplomas... very impressive stuff... the guy we hired showed up with just a CD in his hand. On the CD he had a fully functional network management package with his name on the opening screen...
    Wanna guess who we hired?

    You can short circuit a lot of the testing and awkwardness of the interview if you can show them right up front that you know (at least) enough to write simple working applications...

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    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Pseudocode is all that should be required. We have compilers to help us with the syntactical sugar and C++ is not all that pretty to write down verbatim. The only reason they would ask questions like this is to watch you work through the problem and analyze how you approach it. Do you get analysis paralysis and get stuck on one item and are unable to move on? Do you only see the trees and not the forest? Do you know where to go get the answers or do you already know the answer? How do you approach the problem and do you analyze other approaches? Perhaps you read a book somewhere with one solution or a book that presented several solutions. This in itself would tell me if you are continually improving your skills either through personal projects, reading books, or researching on the internet.

    I like asking questions like these and often do because it is far more telling than simply asking one liner questions like "Describe a constructor and what it does in C++". Watching someone work through a problem and commenting to them throughout the process and then analyzing what they did and could have done at the end is extremely valuable in an interview. Knowing C++ means nothing if you cannot apply it to real world problems. Understanding object oriented programming means nothing if you can't dissect problems into separate objects and various design patterns to facilitate the creation of loosely coupled code.

    I'm sure they were not looking for perfect C++. I can't see how that would be valuable in sizing you up as a candidate.

    Let's say I asked you write code to sort items numerically but you are only allowed one pass through the list or array. Don't worry about perfect syntax and feel free to use pseudocode. If you need to draw up some brief UML or diagrams to assist you feel free to do that as well.

    By watching you work through this problem I could immediately size you up, determine your level of experience, and possibly mentally place you where I think you would fit in the studio. There is no right or wrong here but there are several approaches and all of them have good and bad ramifications. The best thing about these types of questions is they usually apply to all levels of developers and you do not feel as if you are insulting more senior devs but are at least still holding them to the same standard of your more junior devs.

    As an exercise I challenge you to find a question like this and ask one of your friends whom you feel is a very competent programmer and you will see just how valuable this type of question is. If you asked a question like that on this forum you would get a thread that probably had over 100 posts with 50 different approaches to the same problem.

    So, just for kicks, if I asked that question in an interview what would be the first couple of things you would ask me? Would you ask me any questions or you would you just dive in and start writing pseudo code?
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 02-26-2011 at 12:17 PM.

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    That weird Java guy xniinja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommonTater View Post
    As I mentioned in another thread, many years back we had a couple of guys apply for a job where I was working... one came in with a folder filled with diplomas... very impressive stuff... the guy we hired showed up with just a CD in his hand. On the CD he had a fully functional network management package with his name on the opening screen...
    Wanna guess who we hired?
    I'm gonna say the one you said you hired.

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    Programming Wraith GReaper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xniinja View Post
    I'm gonna say the one you said you hired.
    Lol, indeed! You said it!
    Devoted my life to programming...

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