Discussion on: What is your experience with coding interviews that involve pair programming?

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Brianna Author

Thank you Jesse for your insight! I really appreciate it. Do you recommend anything I should do to prep? Code Wars Katas? Data Structures? etc.

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Jesse Ditson

That depends quite a lot on the position you're interviewing for, but some general advice:

For Algorithm & Data structures questions, you're likely not going to be asked to implement something crazy, more likely they want to know you understand the basics.
Unfortunately, this translates to folks asking questions in technical terms (for instance, asking you what type of data structure to use, or explaining complexity in terms of big O notation).
Fortunately, Vaidehi Joshi writes an incredible series that explains this stuff in a wonderfully clear and understandable way: medium.com/basecs - I wish this existed when I was starting to get algorithm heavy interview questions, it would have saved me a lot of stress and feelings of inadequacy.

Lately I've seen a lot of focus more on practical application rather than general CS questions, which I am a fan of. For instance, you may be asked to explain a simple architecture of a twitter-like app, or the basics of implementing a scroll view. Or perhaps talk about how round-robin load balancer or rolling deployment strategy for a more operational role.

Lastly, remember that the interview is as much you interviewing them as it is them interviewing you. Preparation is good, but don't worry too much about learning concepts only tangentally related to your job. If you're going in for a ruby on rails position, brush up on RoR blog posts! If the interviewer decides that you need to write a sort algorithm in ruby, focus on the parts you're good at (syntax, organization, etc), and don't feel obligated to pretend to know stuff you don't know - let your skills shine bright and don't be afraid to let the interviewer know that your career focus may not be on the subject of the question.