Your First Coding Interview
One of the lesser discussed aspects of being a programmer is how difficult the interview process can be. You’ve compiled thousands and thousands of lines of code, you’ve launched your websites and adjusted accordingly, you’ve questioned existing software and thought of how you might improve upon it, but you haven’t sat in a chair facing a software engineer, a database administrator, or a UI designer, and suddenly… it’s all blank.
It’s all sequences of numbers and lines of code, and you hesitate, and worry, and forget your own name when shaking their hand (hopefully you’ll never get that far), but nonetheless, it can be an intimidating experience.
At least you’ve entered the room, hopefully… hopefully with a portfolio of your work with you. You’ve researched them, ideally, but unless they really, really want you, they haven’t offered you the same courtesy.
They want you to prove your worth… And they will bear down upon you with questions. They’ll audition you, interrogate you, task you with basic programming exercises, but ultimately, if you can demonstrate your ability to pass these basic obstructions, they’re just like any other team-oriented environment. They want to know if you’ll fit in.
They want to know if you’re compatible with their company ethos. Some are tight-buttoned, stiff upper lip, cold, mechanical drones, others, well, as long as the project is complete, you can sacrifice all the company cats you want. So, Soft skills, or emotional intelligence comes into play, and suddenly you’re sitting down without a pen and paper, without a keyboard and monitor, and there is a person opposite you deciding whether or not you’re suitable for the position.
One of the shortcomings of the various online resources offering to teach the nuances of coding is the fact that it’s often just numbers and words on a page, as opposed to sitting opposite a tutor running you through a trial interview, or even a potential employer considering your value to their company with a view toward future projects.
So, you must consider the basics of interview etiquette- be punctual (that goes without saying…), be polite and courteous, be engaging and responsive towards their questions, be pro-active with any tasks or puzzles they might put to you, and use them as an opportunity to showcase you. At the end of the day, you’re competing against several other candidates and you’re all there with the same purpose.
As such, it’s imperative to consider how valuable potential employers consider the written and verbal communication skills of those they consider hiring.
So, you’ve survived the several interviews , and hopefully you acknowledge the importance they place on team integration. They want teams of coders, programmers and designers to be compatible, for the sake of their end product, as well as their own sanity.