If you are a programmer, you already know that when you apply for a programming job, the interview process is little different than any other technical job interviews.
In this article we will discuss 10 mistakes that you should avoid in a programming interview.
1. No Practice for Writing Code on Paper or Whiteboard
This is one of the biggest mistakes that candidates tend to make. Most of the programming interviews are either on paper or on a whiteboard. Most of the candidates have good practice of writing code on a computer but little practice of writing code on paper or white board.
A candidate who is used to an IDE (or a text editor) fumbles at the very first step of maintaining good indentation on paper. You must know that writing a well indented code is must in programming interviews. Also, while writing code on paper, there is no compiler to help you find some obvious compile time mistakes. Also most of the candidates get nervous while writing code on a white board in front of a interview panel. So, before a job interview, practice a little on writing code on a paper or whiteboard.
2. Don’t Just Memorize Code Snippets
Memorizing solutions to some popular problems is something that many of the fresh graduates tend to do. For example, most programmers know how to do ‘swapping two numbers using bitwise operators in C’. But not all of them know exactly what that code does and what it does to get the job done.
So, memorizing is not a short cut in a C programming interview. Even if you get away with one or two questions, you cannot get pass a complete interview without understanding the fundamental concepts. The key is to understand the concepts behind the programming. It’s not important how many programming languages you know, what’s important is how well you know them.
3. Less Interaction with the Interviewer
If you ever feel that there is something wrong with the question or if you have any other doubt then it is always advisable to talk to interviewer about it.
Even if you don’t know an answer to a particular question, instead of sitting quiet, or answering something totally unrelated to the questions, it is better to come-out honest and agree that you don’t know the answer. But, suggest them some other alternative topic that is related to the original question, and tell them that you are comfortable in that topic.
4. No Practice for Phone Interviews
These days most of the companies tend to arrange a telephonic interview to judge the candidate before calling them up for further rounds. Getting interviewed on phone is totally different than a face to face interview. In a telephonic interview you need to have good listening and speaking skills.
Make sure that you listen to the problem carefully before answering. Interviewers might give you a code snippet and then you have to answer some questions based on that piece of code. It is important to have a pen and paper handy before attending the telephone interview.
Also, don’t answer every question in exact bookish language because interviewer might get an impression that you are actually referring to some material online while you are answering the question.
5. Writing Messy Code
Please do not underestimate the importance of a well indented code. No matter how much you know, no matter how much innovative you are, if you are being judged for your programming skills then the interviewer has to understand your code before concluding anything and if you provide him with a messy code then interviewer might not even want to read it.
It’s not only the interviewer, a well indented code even helps the candidate to write a bug free program. There are high chances that a well indented code will have less bugs when compared to a messy one.
6. Hiding Your Approach
Interviewers are always interested in your approach to solve a programming problem. It is not expected that you would be able to solve each programming problem thrown to you. But, you are definitely expected to have correct approach towards the solution.
For example, if you are writing a program to swap two numbers using C pointers then it’s the correct approach (ie calling a function with address of variables to be swapped and receiving the addresses in pointer arguments) is what matters. The interviewer might guide you if your are stuck with any other problem.
So, it is always advised to talk out your approach while solving a problem. This is a good way to keep the interviewer engaged.
7. Bad Naming Convention for Functions and Variables
No matter which language you use to solve the interview problem, it is always advisable to use relevant variable and function names, as they help in maintaining code.
For example, suppose you have written thousands of lines of code using insane function and variable names. Now, think of some new who is asked to enhance or debug this code. Debugging this kind of code, where one cannot even understand what variables represent, would be a big nightmare.
Interviewers may or may not consider this as a negative point but it’s always good to be on safer side. Moreover, you will never be appreciated to write function name ‘func’ when you can use a name ‘swap’ for writing a function to swap the values of two variables.
8. Resume Filled with Technical Stuff You Don’t Know
This is another big mistake that beginners tend to do. In order to get their resume short listed, candidates list out various programming languages, and technology name that they don’t even know properly. Though this might land you in front of an interviewer but rest be assured that your experience will not be good. Within minutes into the interview, the interviewer will come to know about your level and skills.
9. Being Under-confident
As with any interview, self-confidence plays an important part in programming interviews too. It happens that sometimes interviewers deliberately ask you to solve a wrong question. Here, if you have good knowledge and self-confidence, you can easily figure out the flaw in question and communicate back to the interviewer.
Even if you answer the questions correctly but are not confident of your answers, your chances of getting selected for the job are not good. This is because no organization would want under confident people working for them.
10. Stressed-out and Deprived of Sleep
The night before the interview, don’t stay-up late to prepare for the interview. In an interview, you need to be present with a fresh mind and lot of energy.
Many candidates might get blanked out once they start solving a problem especially on a white board in front of an interview panel. This generally happens because of the stress candidates take just before the interview. It’s always advisable to sleep well and relax before an interview.