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Programming interview tips

Try to open a dialog with the interviewer when asked a question. Let them know what you are thinking. Suggesting a slow or partial solution is better than nothing or silent or nervous. Just let them know that the solution is not ideal. Try to mention as many observations about the problem as possible. Or provide any ideas you have that might lead to a solution. Nice interviewers will give hints if you appear to be stuck.

Often, you will be asked to write a program during an interview. Sometimes you are asked to write programs on a blackboard or on a sheet of paper rather than on a computer, let alone Google and Internet. It is good to get practice with writing code on the board in order to be prepared for this.

Here is a list of "do's" and "don't's":

  • Don't be nervous and never give up! This says nothing good about your problem solving skills.
  • Don't just sit in silence while thinking. The interviewer has limited time to find out as much as possible about you, and not talking with them tells them nothing, except that you can sit there silently.
  • Ask for clarification on a problem if there is any ambiguity
  • Let the interviewer know what you are thinking
  • Try to provide multiple approaches to the problem
  • Bounce ideas off the interviewer (such as data structures or algorithms)
  • If stuck, don't be afraid to let them know and politely ask for a hint


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