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Doug Parsons

This is a terribly difficult question to answer. Every in-person interview is going to be different, each hiring manager is going to have different "things" they are looking for, etc. Let's take a swing at this though and see if we can get you an answer that is worthwhile.

Let's assume that you apply for a position that you are qualified for and you are granted a face-to-face interview (I am assuming you are a JS dev based on the tags). The interview has three parts: some technical questions, a coding exercise, and a white board session.

So, without Googling, how well would you do here:

What are the data types that JS supports?
What is the difference between double bar and triple bar equality?
Explain what the DOM is.
What is negative infinity in JS?
How would you declare an object with 5 fields?
What is a promise?
What is the difference between a GET and a POST request?
What is an async request?
What is a function callback?
What is use strict and why would you use it?

Maybe you did ok here, you are feeling pretty good, the ice has been effectively broken and you are ready to move on to the coding exercise portion. In come two senior developers with a laptop and sit down with you. They inform you that they are going to give you a choice on what your coding exercise is going to be. You can't use Google and they are going to be sitting in the room the whole time with you as you code. They present you with the following options:

  • In a language you are familiar with, write a function that takes in a string of Arabic Numerals (0 - 9) as a parameter and returns a string that is the roman numeral representation of the provided number. As example: convertToRomanNumeral(1999) would return MCMXCIX.
  • In a language you are familiar with, write a bubble sort.
  • In a language you are familiar with, without sorting an array of random integers, find the second largest value.

How did you do? Maybe you rocked it and are just waiting for the last phase: the white board session. In walks the hiring manager and a solutions architect, they sit down, and ask you to white board out, in psuedo-code, how you would build an elevator system.

The interview ends. How did you do?

This is obviously rhetorical but the point is how good are you at solving problems? Can you fumble through it or are you going to be at a full stop without Google? If you can't solve problems without Googling the problem you aren't going to get to far. If you haven't coded in front of someone, where they are grading you, it is way more nerve racking then you might think.

Every coding exercise is going to have some level of variability to it and no matter how much preparation you do, some hiring manager is going to throw you a curve ball that you have never thought about or practiced. How are you going to do?

Entirely anecdotal: my first "real" programming interview was 4 hours long. I walked in, got through the behavioral portion of the interview, and then the hiring manager gave me a laptop with instructions on what to build. Over the course of 4 hours I had to build a web site that connected to SQL Server and executed a series of CRUD stored procedures. The website had to read the data from the database, display it to the user, allow the user to add rows to the database, and edit existing rows.

Programming is all about problem solving. As long as you are good at solving problems in whatever language you use, you will do fine.