I have had a fair number of interviews in my career. Not because I suck. No no don't get me wrong. After college I needed a job immediately, as student loan payments pile up and my used Honda Civic lost a vital part per week and as my weak human body demanded food on daily basis, time was of the essence. So I created a profile on every job board known to man and hit the phones. 20+ interviews later I landed a job. And boy, what a journey that was. The second time around it only took 3 interviews. See, I don't suck that much. So here I will compile the top 10 questions that I simply hated, some are tech related, some are not, and I'll further dive into why and such. Enjoy!
#10 - Implement a linked list
It's a simple question, yes. Very simple. A group of nodes, each with a data value and a pointer to the next node in the sequence. Why I hate it? Because the last time I created a linked list, was right before a midterm.
#9 - Read this manual on the healthcare revenue cycle.
...this 20 page manual. Well I read the manual, and by the time I got to page 10, highlighted a few key sections, and drew up flash cards to study, it was time for the interview.
#8 - "You have 7 items, and 3 weights, and 4 of the items are really 9 items, minus 7..how many golf balls am I thinking about?"
Alot of times I see a job post, I visit the website, check out the source and try to figure out at what level of awesome they are. Alot of times, the awesome isn't there, and I figure, this site could use some work. I then head to the interview and all 5 immediate questions were puzzles you can find in the Sunday morning paper. If the job was for a puzzle website, then yes, I am wrong in that case.
#7 - Have you used "AwesomeNameHere.js" mixed with a splash of md5script?
Not to sound cynical. Too late I know. One major reason I hate this question, is because I work on the sites I'm given. Most of the time, I don't need to add any new hot keyword scripts to make the sites run. And if I need to, I'll spend a few hours Googling it, I'll create a few examples and we're in business. The assumption that if you haven't used the latest and greatest js library than you are not a talented developer is stupid.
#6 - Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don't know where I see myself in 5 days if I don't land this job. My true answer to that question is "Writing software somewhere". I like software development and I plan on being an old man one day and doing the same. Maybe that's a good answer to that question? :/
#5 - If your business team was having an argument, what would you do?
"..uh..let them figure out a solution?" Wrong. The correct answer was step in with my infinite bag of awesome and show them the ways of the code.
#4 - Name 3 things you are bad at
Seriously? I worked so hard to nail this interview, and now I have to derail myself? I hate this question because everyone will always answer it the same way. "I work too hard sometimes". "I like to get the job done no matter what". "Me flunk English? That's unpossible".
#3 - Do you mind working long hours?
...yes I do. Very much so. But if I have to I will.
#2 - "So I have all these pointers right.."
I've gotten more pointer questions in interviews than I have in school. I work with c#. If I ever work with a pointer, I'm doing something wrong.
#1 - Let me take over your computer and type the problem in notepad. The problem? Write a function that returns true if a singly linked list has a cycle.
And I allowed it to happen. Received an early morning call. Woke up in a haze, as usual. Loaded up my computer and was told to download some 3rd party desktop sharing app. Weird..but alright. I need the job. Afterwards the interviewer launches notepad and writes down, yet another linked list question. After an hour of back and forth the interview ends, and that was the only question asked. I did not get the job.
In all honesty, coming up with interview questions is a difficult task. Personally, it took a good amount of tries before I realized I was heading in the right direction with what I was asking. And I learned that the questions above aren't going to help me in any way figure out if a person can create software.
Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.
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