Coding Interviews: What you need to know

Author name
Katie Smith, Assistant Director, Counseling and Programs, Duke University Career Center

Thumbnail Recently, 2015 computer science alumnus YJ Yang spoke to a crowd of students on coding interview strategies as part of the Fannie Mitchell Expert in Residence Program.

During his time as a student, YJ navigated technical interviews with companies of every size across the country, completing internships at a small local startup and Microsoft, as well as regularly contributing to freelance and open-source projects. YJ is about to launch his career as a front-end engineer at Scaled Inference, a startup in Palo Alto.

YJ compiled some great tips for students preparing for coding interviews- here are some highlights:

  • Investigate what types of stacks (technology platforms/software, etc.) a company uses so you can see talk about your own skills in relation to what they use.
  • Most technical questions will address data structures (e.g. linked lists, hash sets/maps, trees, and graphs), algorithms, (e.g. Big-O, searching/sorting), platform-specific (e.g. What will the result of this JavaScript code be?), and design (sketching how to implement a functioning program such as hangman).
  • Coding in interviews is usually done on a shared online document (phone interviews), or on a whiteboard (in-person interviews), be sure to practice!
  • Discuss your ideas out loud! It’s important to try to silence your inner voice and verbalize your process as t much as possible.
  • Ask questions! Interviewers intentionally give problems with incomplete preconditions and it’s important for you to ask questions to define the terms.
  • Always offer to test your solution!

Our full notes from YJ’s presentation (SlideShare)

See the full presentation (Google Slides)

Behavioral and traditional interview questions are important too! If you want to talk more about interview prep, call and schedule an appointment with a career adviser, 919 660-1050.

Keep an eye out for more Fannie Mitchell Expert in Residence events on CareerConnections, under Career Events.  Create an Event Agent by running an Advanced Search, for Category: “Career Center Event” as well as “Fannie Mitchell” in the Name field.
Once you select “Search” you can choose “Email me new events for this search.”