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satanir

So frustrated - damn those interviews!

13 posts in this topic

Need to blow off some steam... Here we go:

 

I'm the goto guy, been the goto guy my entire professional career. I'm the one they come to when need to solve something - design, bugs, algorithms, whatever you need - I always have the answer. And I'm getting paid a lot to do that, which probably means something.

 

Then there's interviews. I've done a number in the past year, just because, to keep in shape. And they all sucked. No real reason for that - they ask me questions I should have answered without hesitation, but nothing - blank mind. And whenever the interview ends - I go out and the answer immediately pops in my head.

 

Last one was 2 days ago. Sucked big time. And now I'm frustrated. The problem is I'm over-confident. I'm used to being the smartest guy in the room, I forget that I actually have to make people who don't know me see that. I'm too smug at interviews, like I'm doing them a favor I'm coming. Not really know why I'm frustrated, given that I'm an idiot.

 

I have interview for a job I actually want in 2 days, so frustration is bad. And here's why I'm going to own it:

- I never really cared about the other jobs, so didn't really bother with interviews.

- I will not be smug for an interview I actually care about.

- I will not be a smart-ass for an interview I actually care about.

- I'm the goto guy.

 

Feel much better now...

And BTW, I like the forums here because they make me feel humble. A lot of smart people hanging here, a lot of things to learn. I don't get it in my day job anymore.

 

[EDIT] Just re-read it. Hope I'm not coming off as an ass. I'm really not.

 

[EDIT2] re-re-reading it, that's the problem. I'm not going to own the interview just because. I need to prepare, do some exercise, sleep-well the night before, come focused. I knew you guys would help smile.png

Edited by N.I.B.
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Here's a bunch:

- Define an architecture for immediate messaging system that minimizes server load (I actually think my solution was better than the answer suggested by the interviewer).

- Reverse the order of a singly-linked-list. Easy, expect when I they asked me to write the code my brain decided to shut-down. Completely shut-down.

- Efficient algorithm for updating file-indexing service when files change. I actually got that right pretty fast.

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goto is evil

goto is nostalgic. I started learning BASIC on Amstrad CPC64 when I was 8 - the most beautiful spaghetti code I ever saw.

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- Reverse the order of a singly-linked-list. Easy, expect when I they asked me to write the code my brain decided to shut-down. Completely shut-down.

 

The only one I could answer. My solution requires a printer and a mirror.

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- Reverse the order of a singly-linked-list. Easy, expect when I they asked me to write the code my brain decided to shut-down. Completely shut-down.

 

The only one I could answer. My solution requires a printer and a mirror.

 

SNode* pPrev = NULL;
SNode* pCurr = pRoot;
while(pCurr)
{
     SNode* pNext = pCurr->pNext;
     pCurr->pNext = pPrev;
     pPrev = pCurr;
     pCurr = pNext;
}
pRoot = pPrev;

10 lines of code. I knew the algorithm, had a writers block when needed to write it down.

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I'm guessing from context that these interviews are job interviews (very different from what I initially assumed).
Since this is about job interviews, I think it would be a useful addition to the Job Advice forum (so I'm moving this there).
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You seem to be finally realizing that job interviewing in the IT industry is a completely separate skill. Totally unrelated to the technical prowess you possess.

 

 

Since it's a skill, this means you can get better at it. You just need to work on it (as on any other skill).

 

As you already figured out, sitting in your chair at work, writing the code in your IDE, under the daily routine (coffee + music) is anything but even remotely comparable to the stress of having to "code" while standing in front of the person you never saw before, on the paperboard using a highlighter (or pen&paper).

 

It's great you realized something is wrong and it's even better that you figured it out while still having the old job. Trust me, you don't want to find that out when you're out of the job and doing the interviews (and waiting days/weeks till they schedule another round).

 

Now, I recommend doing a search and spending an evening or two with researching for what kind of questions are usually given at interviews (or just grab a book - plenty of those out there).

Then, grab a piece of paper and a pencil, and start coding on a paper. No IDE. No google. No music and no coffee.

This may take anywhere between 10-40 hrs of raw hand-writing, but you will get better at it.

 

What was the last time you spent a full hour writing just using your hand ? I found out my hand hurts like hell. Better to be prepared for things like that, than figuring them out when being stressed out at the IW.

 

 

Now, coding on paper is still way, way easier than on a big board with the highlighter. On a paper, you see easily 20-50 lines of a code. Not so much on a big board, where you gotta use bigger letters so that the interviewer can see it from distance.

There's no delete / enter on a paper with a highlighter.  It truly sucks doing a typo during an interview, but you just gotta embrace the feeling and go with it, completely ignoring it.

 

 

To improve the skill further, there must be someone in your room, could be from your family or a friend. It's ok they don't know sh*t about IT. During an interview, you will be given lots of "why" questions  anyway, so it's best to be prepared to be constantly interrupted, while you're trying to figure out how to insert a damn line between two lines already written on the big board.

 

 

 

10 months ago, when I was changing jobs, I did insane amount of interviewing (it's practically like two full-time jobs) and had a chance to really up the skills of interviewing, since some companies had 5-8 rounds of technical phone/online/on-site interviews.

 

 

In this world, no one really cares if you have the skills. But can you sell the skills you don't even have ? That's what really matters, regardless how crazy it sounds at first...

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Whenever asked to talk through your thought process......DON'T.  Solve the problem quickly and then go over and expalin it.  Much quicker and much more flawless.

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Interviewing is a skill like any other -- really a mix of both soft and hard skills. To be good at it, you actually need to practice. When I've been between jobs and preparing to interview, the first thing I do is re-read "Programming Interviews Exposed", just to recollect all the things that slip your mind about the process when you've been sitting at one desk for years. After I've done that I re-evaluate my resume -- make sure its current, that it reflects by best work and qualities, that it's still visually pleasing, contemporary (not to follow fads, just to not look dated), and highly scan-able. Then I prepare for the actual phone screen and interview processes by writing out answers for the types of questions I anticipate being asked -- For me personally, writing helps me collect and organize my thoughts. The idea is not to have a canned response for those questions, but to have my thoughts close at hand if I should be asked a similar question. I do this for both hard and soft questions. Everything from "Tell me the 3 pillars of OOP, and give an example of each", to "What's your favorite language and why?" to "Why do you want to work here?" to "What kind of compensation are you looking for". Questions of all stripes, usually between 20-30 of them. I also practice those logical brain-teaser puzzles that used to be popular (but have thankfully waned), and the type where you're meant to puzzle out a reasonable order-of-magnitude answer to a question you're not likely to know the answer to by inferences based on given or observed information (stuff like "Estimate the total number of K-12 students in the US" or "Estimate the number of gas stations there are in the state of California" -- lateral thinking questions), which I like a lot better than the former. I also code up a random sampling of whiteboard coding questions, and make sure I'm abreast of the latest programming languages, changes, and techniques.

 

Honestly, I think one of the worst things you can do in an interview is to take too long to start answering a question that ought to come out naturally. The only worse things are to lie to sound better, rush into the wrong answer, or to give one that's not been thought out at all. Being a dick in any way is up there too. But taking too long to think about straight-forward questions are the one that will get you turned away even when it maybe shouldn't (unlike the others) so its especially tragic to fail at it, I think.

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I actually did 7 interviews with 4 different companies since my original post, and I passed them all.

 

The major difference between those and the interviews I failed a long time ago was graphics. I'm a graphics guy, and was interviewed by other graphics guys. All interviews started with questions about graphics, which I know really well. It made me more relaxed and more confident in answering general questions. Also, after the first 2 interviews, I realized that the beast is not that awful.

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