Jan 16, 2019

Topics to Prepare for with Your Next Programming Interview

Prepping for an interview is one of the smartest ways to ensure that you'll actually get the job in the end. For tech-focused jobs, that usually means you'll have to answer questions about your technical expertise in addition to doing some standard "getting to know you." Depending on the job, you may even have two interviews, with one being held specifically for technical questioning. Take some time to explore the world of programming interview questions so you can be as prepared as possible.

Reality Check: Not All Interviews Are Alike

First off, it's essential to know that there is no standard set of programming interview questions. The questions that software engineers, developers, and programmers get asked in interviews tend to vary greatly based on the exact nature of the job they're interviewing for. If you're prepping for an interview for a job in which you'll be expected to write code or do some programming, you'll want to look at the job description as posted in the job listing and try to get some more information about the day-to-day of the job before you head out to the interview.

For example, if you'll be doing a lot of engineering and building brand-new technologies (e.g., as aRobotics Software Engineer), you should be prepared to answer some math-related questions. But many people who work with code don't need to worry about math skills, so if you see a list of programming interview questions with a bunch of math equations, don't panic. Your interviewer shouldn't be asking you about stuff that isn't relevant to the job. If they are, that's a significant red flag.

Question Topics

Regardless of the job, you can expect your interview to touch on a few important areas that give a picture of who you are as a professional. Coming up with specific examples to illustrate these concepts will help make your responses more useful for the interviewer.

Your Workstyle

Questions about workstyle, like "are you comfortable with pair coding," are designed to give the interviewer insight into what you'll be like on the team, so come up with concrete examples. Think of a time you and a coworker disagreed about the best way to solve a problem, or use examples from your Design Sprint Foundations Nanodegree program to underline why you think the sprint technique is useful. Just make sure you're actually addressing the content of the question rather than trying to make an irrelevant example work.

Your Knowledge and Enthusiasm

You might be asked what the first programming language you learned was, or what your favorite one currently is. Use this as an opportunity to showcase your breadth of knowledge on a language you'll be expected to use a lot for the job.

Your Experience

Experience questions are designed to get you to talk about specific projects. These can be point-blank questions about your resume or something more general, like "what's your favorite project you've ever worked on" or "what are you working on right now?" If you have no prior professional experience in the field, don't worry. Talk about what you've done in detail to showcase that you know what you're talking about and you like doing the work involved with the job.