By February 7, 2019

Getting Unstuck At Coding Interviews

Getting Unstuck At Coding Interviews

Have you ever felt stuck at coding interviews? Not to blame… We've all been there.

A lot of software developers fear the coding interview process, and, due to that, chances are of them getting it bombed just goes straight up.

If you're feeling stuck at coding interviews, you can follow three easy steps in order to get unstuck:

00:38 Simplify The Problem
01:08 Ask The Right Questions
01:53 Make The Ugly Solution Happen

This is how you get unstuck at coding interviews.

Transcript Of The Video

Jason Humphrey:  There are three things I wanna talk about today, and how they can help you, and it starts with this; understanding the problem.

When you get stuck on a problem, there's nothing worse feeling in the world, right? You're in this interview that could change your life, and you're just stuck, and you don't know what to do. And it's a little bit of a freakout moment in your mind.

So we have to find a way … This first part is to understand the problem. We have to find a way for you to understand it. And there's a couple of different things we can do, right? One of them is simplifying the problem down. So we have that 50,000 foot view, how do we simplify that problem down now? Can we break it up into multiple points? Can we pseud-code it out? That's pretty helpful for actually a lot of people. Could you also take a step back from the problem and think about it a different way?

Understanding the problem though and taking the time to understand it is key, which leads me into my next point, because you need to be able to ask the right questions.

So if you do get stuck, you do have an interviewer who you can collaborate with, and I say collaborate loosely, right? Because they're not gonna actually give you much back, but you can ask the right questions at the right time, much like kids do in spelling bees, what is the language of origin, can you give me a use for it, can you say it in a sentence? All of these things are things you could be doing. So be prepared to ask questions.

I always love asking why, hows, and what. And not necessarily all of them at one time, but things revolve around the why, how, and what very much.

So now that you're trying to understand the problem, you simplified it, you take that step back, you ask the right questions.

Last point of this video to get unstuck is to make the ugly solution happen. People feel as though they need to get the best solution out every time in interview. And that's seriously not the case, because it's more about getting the problem solved than being the most efficient in the world.

Likely when you're in the interview and you solve something, you get the ugly solution working, the interviewer will potentially prompt, say, is there a better way to use, is it more efficient? Which will give you the avenue to refactor your code.

Too many people get hung up with trying to get that best solution so that they don't even then solve the problem, because they're too worried about looking silly or stupid when really, you need to solve it.

So prioritize baby steps and getting it solved and doing pseud-code and writing the first function, and then writing the first variable, calling that variable, or calling that function, and passing that variable in, and getting the constructs up and running first, and making the solution work any way you know how.

Taking that first step is probably the most crucial and yet the most hardest for you. And I understand all too well, because there are times you wanna show off really, like you wanna show really well for yourself and you know you could be better than this, but it doesn't always happen. And so what you need to do is make the ugly solution work, 'cause you know what it is, you just might not wanna do it, but I encourage you to do it, I encourage you to ask the right questions to help yourself get unstuck, much like you're in spelling bee, and then I encourage you to try understand the problem. Those three things can be extremely effective to help you get unstuck.

Now, there is a ton on this topic of getting unstuck, and I wanted to make this video short and to the point to help out, and we 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.