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Tips For Your Next Pair Programming Interview

A pair-programming interview is a style of interview that involves a candidate and an interviewer. The interviewer will present the candidate with a problem statement, and the candidate will have to solve it within a time frame (usually 60 minutes).

The interviewer may use a pair programming sharing platform, such as HackerRank or Codility. In this case, there's no need to share your screen as the interviewer will access the link and see your code as you're typing. Or, they can type the question in a normal text editor and let you share your screen.

This article will share tips on succeeding during a pair-programming interview.

Let's start.

Why Do Some Companies Use Pair Programming as a Way to Interview Candidates?

It's because, with pair-programming, you can test 3 skills: problem-solving, teamwork and communication skills.

Teamwork and collaboration are more important than ever as remote work evolves into hybrid work. Companies are looking for ways to hire developers who have strong coding and communication skills. Pair programming is one way to test both. [TechRepublic]

Treat It as a Typical Pair Programming Session

Shift your mindset by treating the interview as a typical pair-programming session you'd have with someone more experienced than you.

You're collaborating with a potential future colleague to solve a problem. You must demonstrate your team working skills during this session.

Read the Problem Statement Thoroughly

Take a few minutes to read the problem statement and understand what you need to achieve. Don't be afraid to ask questions if something doesn't sound right to you.

Once you understand the problem statement, figure out how to break down the problem into smaller sub-problems.

Think Out Loud

Thinking aloud helps identify whether your proposed approach will lead you in the right direction. It helps you self-correct, and it's an occasion for you to demonstrate your communication skills to your interviewer.

You potentially avoid going down the wrong path when you vocalise your thought process.

Before typing code, discuss any design decisions with the interviewer.

Explain why you decide to pick a particular data structure or algorithm.

In the end, ask them what they think about your proposed approach. Involve your interviewer throughout the process.

Ask Yourself if There Could Be Any Edge Cases

More likely than not, interviewers won't tell you if there could be any corner case because they want to test whether the candidate can catch any underlying problems with the problem statement.

It's good practice to consider any potential edge cases that may arise when solving the problem.

Write Clean Code

Ensure you write readable, testable and maintainable code. Give meaningful names to variables, methods, and classes.

Note that some companies also expect you to be confident with writing tests (perhaps using TDD) and knowing the IDE of your choice.

If You Get Stuck, Ask for Hints From Your Interviewers

As point number 1, a pair-programming session involves two people collaborating to solve a problem.

If you get stuck, ask for pointers from your interviewer. If they're good at interviewing, they'll help you get unstuck or deconstruct any doubts you might have.


In this article, you've learned what a pair programming interview is, what to expect, and tips to succeed in your next pair programming interview.

I hope you've found this helpful.

Best of luck! 🍀🍀🍀

P.S: If you enjoy my content, please consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter. I share career and interview tips, and much more. I hope to see you there!

Top comments (2)

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

So much great advice here, Maddy!

I'm loving the suggestion to think aloud and involve the interviewer throughout the process. It kinda reminds me of the writing tip that I frequently dish out — read your posts aloud so ya can hear how it sounds!

Really appreciate ya sharing this post!

yourmdsarfaraj profile image
MD Sarfaraj

Nice, thanks for sharing!!