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5 Essential Tips To Ace the Developer Interview

Developer Interview

Are you a looking for a frontend developer job, but not sure what it takes to come out of your interview with flying colors? Keep reading, this may just be the boost that you needed.

Interviews can be a stressful experience to most people. But you can always turn that into a pleasant experience with a little practice. Many developers, dread the interview experience, that involves whiteboard coding, and solving challenging problems. In my opinion, if you are prepared and are smart about it, you can tackle any interview.

Common feedback from candidates “This was so stressful, I don’t like the way developers are being interviewed. I hate whiteboard coding!”

In this post, we will look at some tips to ace the frontend developer interview to land a job.

1. Pick a Programming Language and Master it

StackOverFlow survey of Programming Languages in 2019

Before you go to an interview, you need to pick one solid programming language and be really good at it. Learn it thoroughly and that will be your medium of communication with your interviewer.

You need to write clean, working code during your interview, pick a language and master it.

Pseudocode is sometimes acceptable, but most interviewers will expect you to write clean, working code in a language of your choice. If you are a frontend developer you can pick a language like JavaScript. If you are looking for backend jobs, you can pick maybe Java. This is just my suggestion. There are plenty of programming languages and you should pick one that you like and are comfortable with.

2. Your GitHub Profile and Open-source Contributions

Screenshot of my GitHub Profile Contributions – AdhithiRavi

Contributing to open-source projects can make you stand out compared to your peers in the industry. Companies are often impressed with candidates that have an elaborate GitHub profile, with a lot of activity, projects and contributions. Although this may not be the best way to measure the quality of a developer, companies still look out for developers who are active in the community. This tells the company that you are truly passionate about coding, and you do find time outside of your regular work to code.

Make sure you contribute to your favorite open-source projects. This can even be simple bug fixes, but it still makes you stand out.

Tip: You can ask your company for 5-10% time to work on open-source projects, so you can build your profile during work hours.

On the day of the interview, you can showcase your GitHub profile with plenty of projects and open-source contributions. The interviewers will be interested to learn more about those projects and your work. This means you will lead the conversation and will be at a much better spot, than being asked questions on topics that you are not familiar with. A little extra work from your end on a regular basis, will pay off during your job search and interviews.

3. Know Your Data Structures

Irrespective, of the title you are interviewing for, almost all developer interviews will have data structure questions. Data Structures are the fundamentals of computer science and you are guaranteed to face questions related to data structures and algorithms during your interview. This means you need to master them before you go to any interview.

Some of the common data structures, irrespective of the programming language that you will need to fully understand and learn include:

  • Arrays
  • String
  • Linked Lists
  • TreesĀ (Binary Search Tree, Balancing tree and so on..)
  • Graphs
  • Stacks
  • Queues

With data structures, you would need to understand how to use each one of them, their time and space complexities, and how they compare with one and other. Sometimes you maybe asked to write an implementation of a data structure from scratch, even though most languages support these data structures out of the box. Be prepared for those type of questions as well.

The key here is to understand, which data structure to use for a given problem. This is something you can master, with practice.

4. Behavioral Questions

Just because it is an interview for a developer job, it doesn’t mean that the behavioral aspects are not important. Most developers go to a programming interview, fully equipped to only expect coding questions. But many companies have elaborate behavioral interviews. This is where they find talent that stands out from the rest.

The best way to ace a behavioral interview is to prepare and ask your friend or spouse to conduct several mock interviews at home. Remember, practice is essential even for these aspects of the interview, not just coding.

Define yourself, and identify your strength, weakness, and other qualities that are relevant to the job.

The first step would be to define yourself and write down a bunch of strengths and weaknesses. You obviously know yourself, but you may not give the best answers to the interviewer without a review of yourself beforehand. Jot down all the key highlights from your career, and also the things that didn’t go well. Prepare answers for some of the challenging problems and situations that you have encountered and how you have addressed them during your career.

The way you answer these, help the potential employers understand more about you. Companies look for developers who are empathetic, collaborative, honest and supportive to team mates.

5. Show Your Passion

Show your interviewers that you are truly passionate about your work and what you do. Passion is something that sets you apart from several other developers. Make sure you learn what the company’s vision and analyze how it aligns with your own personal and career goals. Showcase how you are passionate about the job, and how it aligns with your passion.

Employers will be impressed about the research you have done about their company and it places you in a good spot. It shows them that you care about their vision, and not here just to make a buck.

Resources For Learning

There are plenty of resources, to prepare yourself for the programming interview. Here are some of my favorite:

If you liked this post, please share it and you can also follow me on twitter @AdhithiRavi

And Good Luck with your interviews!

Adhithi Ravichandran is a Senior Software Engineer based in Kansas City. She is currently working on building mobile apps using React Native for critical healthcare scenarios. Adhithi is a regular conference speaker at various tech conferences. Adhithi graduated with a Masters degree in Computer Science from the University of Kansas and has been in the tech industry for over 7 years. She has worked on several technologies over the years, and one of her recent favorite is React Native.
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