More often than not, at this point in my job search, I have been doing well enough in the first round interview to get extended a second one. The second-round interview for most companies is often a technical one, whether that be a technical screen, a code challenge, or a take-home project.
The technical portion of the interviewing process, to me, is the most difficult aspect of the whole process because every company does it differently. To semi-quote Forest Gump, technical interviewing is “like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Personally, (past me would be shocked that I’m about to say this, but…) I prefer having a technical screen or, as some companies call it, a pair programming session with one of the company’s engineers over any other type of technical interview.
Some of you who have experienced the technical interviewing process may be thinking “Why would you like technical screens over something you do on your own? There is so much added pressure when you are live coding with someone else.” Yes, those of you thinking that would be 100% correct, there is that extra pressure, but I get to experience working with an engineer at the company! Most companies will even have your interview with an engineer that you’d work with if hired. This means that I’d get a sneak peek at what it could be like working with that person for that company on a daily basis.
Completing a take-home project or code challenge on my own wouldn’t allow me to have that experience. I wouldn’t get the opportunity to walk through my thought process with the interviewer and bounce ideas off of them. They wouldn’t get to see me make mistakes, catch them, and then fix them. Most importantly, I wouldn’t be able to get a feel for what working with the company’s engineers is like.
Some of the things I ask myself during and after technical screens are
- Did the interviewer challenge me by asking why I chose one solution and not another?
- Did this person give me the answer when I asked a question or did they guide me in the right direction?
- Was the atmosphere more like a collaboration or an interrogation?
These aspects of the interview are important to me because, as a junior, I want someone to question why I’m choosing to do something a certain way. What if my way is not efficient or completely wrong? I’d want to know that, but, hopefully, the interviewer doesn’t just tell me why it’s wrong, hopefully, they ask me questions that lead me to that realization. To me, I want it to feel like we are collaborating and bouncing ideas off of one another like we would if it were a normal day at work.
If the interview feels more like an interrogation or that I’m talking to a brick wall, I feel uncomfortable. When this happens, I immediately cross the company off of my list, because why would I want to work for a company that made me feel uncomfortable during the interviewing process? Should I want to work with someone I didn’t feel like I could collaborate with or with someone who may not feel comfortable answering questions? Or for a company that doesn't want the interviewers to answer questions?
I'm a junior developer trying to find my first role with a company that I believe could provide me with the best possible environment, one that will help me grow professionally and thrive. Technical screens help me determine whether a company will be a good fit for me, which is why I love them.
Interviewing with a company is as much about you being a great fit for them as it is the company being a great fit for you. If you have read any of my articles about interviewing prior to this one, you have heard me say that a ton already but I seriously cannot stress this enough!
Make sure you are doing what is best for you.
Note: The cover image is brought to you from a recent trip to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, Ca.