By January 10, 2019

Coding Interview: My 5 Top Tips To Succeed

In this video I'll share my best tips for nailing and succeeding at a coding interview. After all, you should definitely prepare for a coding interview if you're serious about getting a programming job.

What are the best tips to succeed at a coding interview and get the programming job you've been dreaming of?

Watch this video and find out!

Transcript Of The Video

Jason Humphrey: This video is all about how to find success in coding interviews, or what do you need to do to find success in this?

Coding interviews can be very tough on you sometimes. There's nerves, there's uncomfortableness, there's those awkward silences and pauses. Things happen, they don't necessarily feel easy all the time, and so I wanna give you some tips and things to think about to make sure you find success in interviews for yourself.

The first is, and you would think it'd be the most easiest, 'cause I talked about this in the Coding 101 video, but be personable. Far too often, people come in and they aren't real with me, I'd like to say. They are trying to be prim and proper and they're trying to be the person who everyone thinks they want them to be, and they're trying to be something they're not. And then they forget to be personable. They forget to be a human. They forget to crack a joke. They forget to have a smile. They forget to have good body language. They forget all these subtle things that, in a normal conversation out in public, you shake someone's hand, and you wanna be personable and you have that good charisma, that you do all the time, you forget about in interviews.

The first tip to success in an interview is to be extremely personable. At the end of the day, I want to work with someone that wants to work with me. I want to work with someone that is personable. I want to work someone that I enjoy going to see every day.

The second one is to have confidence in your answers. It sounds to easy, it sounds so subtle to do, but it's actually harder than you would think. People far too often will answer questions not confidently to where they will question themselves at the end, like “I think that's right,” or “Yeah, something like that.” Or they'll just sometimes have a verbiage that shows like they wanna say something to make it sound like it's okay not to be confident. ‘Cause they're not totally sure but they wanna give a good answer.

Don't worry about that. Confidence is you knowing the outcome and if you already know what you know, just say what you know, and move on. And leave it at that because that's gonna come off way more confident than anything else. That's easiest also a way for me to say it without getting on a whole spiel, which I could easily do.

Soft skills, this is the third tip to interviewing success. Almost anyone with some legitimate technical ability can get … Just a little bit technical ability and technical expertise, just a tiny bit, can get a job if they have all the soft skills in the world. And I still believe that true to this day.

My third tip is soft skills, and let me talk about a couple of the soft skills I hope to see you portray, because I found that they are the most impactful soft skills to portray, to talk about, to have on your resume. First is problem-solving. Pretty sure for it, right, as an engineer, you need to be a problem solver. Second is teamwork. That soft skill is very key because more often than not, teams and specifically, new engineering roles are on bigger teams. They're getting bigger and bigger, and so being able to work on a team and play for the team and be a team player, and not to be an individual contributor will have a big difference on you.

Critical thinking, not necessarily just problem-solving but now critical thinking. When you get a critical problem that's hard, it's very important … It's still different problem-solving but very important for you to be able to communicate and talk about.

Time management. Showing that you, as an engineer, as a developer, can manage your time, 'cause a lot of jobs now have days where they let you work from home. And if I don't believe that you have good time management and that you can handle that on your own and you can't manage your own time to get stuff done, and you can't talk towards that, well, that's a problem. And especially if I'm trying to give you some responsibility to be on your own and I don't see good time management skills with you, that's a problem.

And last but not least, soft skill is communication. Far too often, we hear the [inaudible 00:03:59] of “They're just the developer, they can't communicate,” or, “They don't know how to do emails, or they don't … Don't fall into that wayside. You should have good communication. That is a soft skill that all developers should be working on, myself included. I am working on communication all the time. It's not as easy to be able to communicate to people what you're seeing, what problems they are, what don't you get about a story, how to work better, how to just be a team and communicate. It's a hard soft skill to master, let alone talk about and show on your resume. But if you can work towards it, it can be extremely help you be … Help you be extremely successful in coding interviews. Being personable, confidence in your answers, and soft skills, are probably three of the top for you to know. If you stopped watching this video right now, make sure you just take those three away.

If you wanna see success, if you don't have the soft skills, you don't have the confidence in your answers, whiteboarding. Whiteboarding is another thing for you to master or get good at to handle whiteboarding questions, and those generally involve around the critical thinking we were just talking about, or they revolve on some type of coding problem if you've practiced or have the ability to do them, you'll see them on the whiteboard more often than not.

And so, I'm going to do a video on whiteboarding later so I'm not gonna go too crazy in depth on tips in whiteboarding, specifically. But just know that if you want to find success in interviews, whiteboarding's another good place to start and to try to work on.

The next one, and the fifth one here, is handling the unknown. People far too often don't acknowledge it or let it go and just like “Oh, I'm ready for this.” And, it's a false hope ready that they're thinking because they know that there's a lot of unknowns and they just don't acknowledge them, so they just don't, and they go in and assume whatever they have is enough. But you should be able to handle the unknown. If you want to really find good success in interviews, handling the unknown questions and the really difficult ones, the ones where you're just stumped, knowing what to do and how to handle that, is key.

And let me give you a couple of tips on that right now. First off, asking the right questions. When you're in that unknown situation, being able to ask the right question is key. Also, 'cause right when you freeze, you have a little bit of time to think. Freezing's not fun, I know, but that's when you start thinking about questions.

Another tip in this side of this, is to take a step back from the situation, and think about it, maybe holistically, that 50,000-foot view. Look down on the problem, see if you can see something. Can you maybe break down the problem into smaller chunks? Or, is there something you can do to use any of these combinations between questions, taking a step back, breaking things down, to help you in the unknown?

Last but not least, to help you find success and what you should do for success, is have common knowledge. Oh, that sounds so simple to say but let me tell you this, it's like people forget their common knowledge in an interview. And when I say common knowledge, I'm not just talking about knowing two times two is four, or that what's happening in the news or subtle things in history. I'm not talking about that.

What I'm saying common knowledge-wise is, what does the company do? What does your resume say? What research can you do that should be common knowledge to anyone in the public? What does the job description say? What does the company stand for? What is the interviewee, or interviewer you're gonna talk to? What's their background say? What technology are they using? Who's in your network? Is someone in your network, in this job, can tell you more about this company or job or interview? Any of these things. And that's where I'm saying common knowledge in the area of doing your research, you should be able to find this common knowledge so that you're prepared, so that you don't have to ask a dumb question.

I've always been a firm believer that there's no such thing as a dumb question, until I started getting heavy into the interview game when I realized that people were asking me dumb questions because they didn't do their research. They didn't do their homework. They didn't have the common knowledge I fully expected them to have.

Overall, tips for success for you. Be personable, confidence in your answers, gain the soft skills and be able to talk about the soft skills. Get better at whiteboarding. Handling the unknown. And figure out what the common knowledge is you need to know about this job, this company, this interview, the technology, or the network. That will help you find success in interviews.

Now, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and let me know if you have anything at all, and I will see you in the next video.

About the author

    Jason Humphrey

    Jason Humphrey is an full stack development, entrepreneur and investor. He is a professional programmer and engineer working in Node js, Angularjs, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript/jQuery, Mongodb, and Jive. He is a full stack developer, with a special emphasis on and passion for MEAN stack. You can find more about him on his website.