My Very First Technical Interview
Feb. 27, 2018, 8:18 p.m.
One month ago, I had my very first technical interview for a Software Developer internship. To preface this post briefly, I am not a CS or engineering major but I have taken some fundamental CS-courses.
I came across the company’s website after using their product and genuinely enjoyed using it. I remember thinking to myself, wow this is actually a sick add-on! I am a huge productivity fanatic -- so naturally, I looked the company up and found an opening for an internship opportunity.That night, I stayed up late to draft a cover letter to match the company’s tone of voice and philosophy.
To my surprise, I received a response within 3 hours that they would like to start the interview process. I felt ecstatic and nervous at the same time. It’s my first technical interview and I did not want to appear like a fraud. The interview was scheduled to be 5.5 days from when I first sent the application – and this meant I had 5.5 days to prep for it. The interview was conducted on Skype and it consisted of two parts, general questions and technical problems.
The first thing the interviewer mentioned was that he enjoyed reading my cover letter and asked me to elaborate on how I got into programming. I had come pretty prepared for this interview, and this question was the classic “tell me about yourself.” The rest of the questions were about the projects I had worked on in the past, my contributions to it, and my interest in programming. I also liked that my interviewer tailored his questions for me based off my resume and cover letter, making it more of a conversation than question-and-answer.
After the series of soft skills questions came the dreaded technical questions. I spent endless hours preparing for the technical interview. I reviewed my data structures and basic algorithms, did practice problems on LeetCode, and watched videos to learn some new algorithms (in case I am asked knowledge-based questions).
At that point in time, I had probably: 1) internalized every single Reddit thread about technical interviews on /r/cscareerquestions, 2) sounded insane from all the thinking out loud I did in public while trying to solve a problem, and 3) annoyed every single friend I can think of who is a CS major for technical interview pointers (pun intended?).
The technical part of the interview went as smoothly as I could have imagined it to go. The interviewers started off by stating that they were looking for my logical reasoning and thinking process when I was solving these problems (which was normal in a technical interview).
Overall, I enjoyed the technical interview a lot. I came out of the interview (Or rather, I closed the Skype call) feeling thrilled that not only had I just went through my first technical interview, but I also didn't bomb it!
I have seasoned CS friends who said it would be much more intimidating to do white-board interviews in real life, which is probably true. But, I think I went into the interview prepared and had the mindset to learn as much as I can from this first (and hopefully not last) experience. I had to consciously treat the problem as any other problem I would be solving by myself, except with strangers observing every line of code I write.
Regardless of the outcome for this interview, I feel extremely grateful and content with my first interview experience. I took away lessons I can apply to my future interviews. I prepared for the interview to the best of my ability and I believe that is all I can do on my part.