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Ask HN: Who wants to practice coding interviews together?
55 points by Kortaggio on May 6, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments
Hi guys, I'm a full-stack web developer who's currently applying for full-time jobs, and I'm looking to brush up on my technical interview skills. Is there anyone in a similar position who would be interested in practicing together? This way we can mock interview each other and offer each other feedback.

I find that live problem solving in front of another person is very different from standing at the whiteboard yourself which is why I'm reaching out to you guys. I'm currently in Toronto but am open to practicing remotely as well.

More about my background: http://www.kortaggio.com

Contact me via email: bill.mei [at] kortaggio.com




Most of the questions in your interviews are not actually technical, unless your interviewing google or something. Here was my approach and I got a very large pay bump as a result :)

Sit down and list all your projects you completed at your previous jobs. These will give you a great refresher and are going to be your talking points. Have both good and bad points ready. The bad points are for curve ball of questions like, "whats you're weak point." It will also show you can reflect and improve.

Go crazy lining up interviews, that's one great thing about our industry, no shortage of companies to interview with.

A few hours before each interview, look at the job description for clues. You'll pick your top three things that you feel would make you a great fit for the company based on your past experience. "Need to be able to refactor", hey that's all I did at x company for y time and of course the project was successful based on z metric.

That was mostly it, of course it helps to do a quick refresher of tech specific interview questions from google. This is mostly to boost your confidence and to keep you from feeling too nervous.

Good luck!


If hes applying to engineering positions, any company worth anything will definitely give a technical interview. Practically every company I interviewed at (in TO, NY, SF, LA) had atleast a 30min tech interview or exercise.

Let alone the onsite- where you are guaranteed a few tech sessions.


What kind of a job does this apply to? I and every single friend of mine that went through interviews for tech companies had to go through multiple rounds of technical interviews that mainly involved problem solving, followed by like one non-technical interview.


I applied to full stack positions for mid to senior level. Some do go into technical questions, that's what the brush up is for, however they usually target exactly what was in their job description.

If you're an engineer I'm assuming you can usually fight your way through a problem they give you. A lot of places I interviewed seemed to do the same thing -> (man I have an interview, better google a few questions to ask them).

The important part is that you look at their job description, you will usually cover 75% of the interview preparing like that.


This is true for smaller companies, that hire for targeted roles, take the time to write good job descriptions and may even think a bit about what they are doing, because every person they hire makes or breaks the company.

The moment a company enters growth phase and they need a lot of talent, nearly everything goes out of the window. Most (not all) job descriptions become generic and less thoughtful and they resort to generic technical questions in interviews, simply because there aren't that many candidates who have relevant backgrounds (e.g. I need someone to work on deployment systems, but you have payment systems background) and they can't wait forever.

Obviously there are exceptions on both sides, but this is generally how it pans out, in my experience.

(Source: Years of hiring in the Valley, and now running http://InterviewKickstart.com)


In North America at least, any good tech company worth working for will ask you to write code on a whiteboard or computer. I am not sure where do you interview.


Northern Virginia, yes they sometimes do. I got more of the language specific questions though. "In C# what's the difference between static and const."

When I interviewed google, they wanted me to code something up for them. In California, again I had mostly language specific questions. I did get more logic questions though. It varies from company to company.

Most engineers I talk with though, don't struggle with the problem solving. It's the soft skills and being able to confidently respond to typical questions that they had a hard time with. Easy fix if you do what I suggested.


The "I did X that caused Y, which is a percent of Z" is probably the best ways to frame your experience on a resume.


> These will give you a great refresher and are going to be your talking points.

I actually make it a point not to delve too deep into a candidate's own projects. I would rather throw them an unfamiliar or (slightly unfamiliar) idea and have them work a solution with me.


The best way to practice interviewing in my opinion is to just do it. Go to your LinkedIn and send a boilerplate message to all the recruiters that have ever contacted you:

"Hey this sounds interesting. I'd love to learn more."

The next week will probably be one of the busiest of your life, but you'll come out of it with confidence in your interview skills hard earned by hours of talking with crappy companies that you would probably never want to actually work for, but are just using for interview practice.

If you are in a high demand job market like NYC or SF it is likely that you will also come out of that first week with multiple job offers that you end up declining because you didn't really want to work for those companies in the first place.


+1

Also realize the limitation of doing this: You'll get "practice", but you won't get "feedback". If you practice with a bunch of B and C companies, but end up getting rejected from As, then you won't know why that is happening. At that point, you may get tired of interviewing and would end up taking something that's suboptimal. So guard against that.

If you want to work at an A company, then I'd say at least some of your practice interviews should also be with A companies.

Even then, you won't get the raw, uncut, deliberate feedback that you want. For that, you want to practice with seasoned interviewers. Use something like us (http://InterviewKickstart.com) or what Aline does (http://interviewing.io).


Ask for the feedback. Sure, you may not get it, but asking costs nothing and can get you something.


Facebook for example is actually pretty good about giving feedback. (Google, not so much.)


Thank you for posting this. It seems it's easy to find friends to do interviews with, but it is not. When I was looking for a job, following are the services I have found. Some of these may help (not affiliated with either):

1. Pramp.com: Practice technical interviews

Downside: Not very effective if you find an interviewer that is casual. Conducting interviews is a skill. The interviewer needs to have a good command over the problem and its nuances.

Upside: free

2. http://Interviewkickstart.com: Full-on practice and mock interviewing. Run by a former Director of Engineering.

Downside: Serious cash

Upside: Very effective

3. interviewing.io: Chatroulette for technical interviewing. Run by a recruiter? engineer? Can't tell.

4. https://careercup.evisors.com/search: Careercup used to be awesome, but it seems a bit bloated now.

Hope this helps!


Interviewing.io is a company started by a recruiter who used to be an engineer.


Founder of interviewing.io here. I'm an engineer who did recruiting for a few years to understand how exactly hiring is broken. interviewing.io is my attempt to fix things.


Hey csthrow42, Can I follow up with you in person? Got a related questions to ask.

Here's my email: davidglbr@gmail.com


Would anyone pay real money for technical interviewing as a service? I've done 370 SWE interviews for Google, and I think I am pretty good at it.


People are already paying real money for this.

[0] http://www.careercup.com/resources#mockinterviews

[1] https://www.interviewcake.com/

[2] http://interviewkickstart.com/

If you ask me, I think its a bit ridiculous that this industry exists, But as someone who is actively seeking a job I completely understand the need for it because you get such little feedback from real interviews.


it's like people paying for test prep classes. personally I'd never pay for it since there are free books available everywhere, but looks like there's demand for it


Sure you could get the information for free but it's much more motivation for me to really learn when I'm spending my money on it.

Books don't give the same feedback that a live person could. Especially when you have a question and don't have the right terminology to search for it (that's getting harder with how good searches are getting).


Yes! At http://InterviewKickstart.com, we're always looking for seasoned interviewers. Please send me an email: soham@interviewk...


Contact smaller companies that may not yet have full time programmers/IT staff but are looking to hire their first programmer.

Now, how you accomplish it is another problem altogether ;-)

But seriously. I was trained in how to interview from a company that consults on interview practice. I'm sure the trainer mentioned that they provide it as a service, so there is an existing market.


I just wanted to laugh with you about Laszlo Bock's recent post, citing "The one true expert, Nelson Abramson."

https://plus.google.com/+LaszloBock/posts/avZNRFzW8f9

If I were Nelson Abramson, I'd be quite tempted to put that reference on my resume.


I wouldn't. But what I would pay for is a book on how to give interviews that extract useful, predictive information from candidates. That doesn't seem to exist now.


You don't. You give work sample tests. See eg http://sockpuppet.org/blog/2015/03/06/the-hiring-post/


If you're wanting to practice coding interviews with someone remotely you're welcome to sign up for a free account on my site to use the collaborative editor and chat functionality.

https://interviewer.io


I'm close enough with my previous coworkers that I have them interview me. It's nice, because sometimes I forget talking about something and they can remind me to talk about X, Y, Z because they are familiar with my work.

It seems like you are a college graduate but have enough relevant experience to ask those you have worked with before.

I concur with others, too, saying to interview at companies you are not too interested in. It's as close as you can get to reality. Also, if you do get offer(s) you can use those as leverage to an increase compensation for the companies you do want.

You have a lot of experience for someone just out of college - hopefully you interview at a company that recognizes your work. There are some companies where the interviewers just fires technical questions one after another, and do not care about your background. You may want to think twice about those companies before accepting.

There will probably be people who balk about wasting the time of your interviewers. To them...meh. Improve your workplace so that you are not on the list of 'non-interesting' companies. This would also give your company a chance to impress a candidate and possibly change their mind and take your offer...or it will reinforce their perception of your company.


I would love to do this. I am a hiring manager, and would love to be on the other side of interviews myself so I can learn more.

Anyone that's interested can reach out to me: kevin@mattermark.com


This is an excellent idea. Browsing your site it seems you really can do the job so if I was to interview you it will be talking about those projects.


Work on changing your attitude, an interview is not a challenge for you to succeed and surpass at.

An interview is a dialog, do you really want to work for those people and with that product? Can they convince you to spend your time and efforts?


For the life of me, I can't decipher if this comment is actually suggesting what it seems to be suggesting.

There's plenty to say about technical interviewing as it exists today, but it seems remiss to suggest someone wanting to practice doing technical white-boarding beforehand is somehow undermining the process.


Practicing technical interviewing is undermining the persons ability to pass an interview.

You can be 110% technically profeccient, but thats not going to get you the job.

Just look at any enterprise, big name company, 90% of people employed are not technical - yet they got a job. Probably more payed than code monkeys.

They didnt waste their time practicing technical questions.




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