Technical interviews at big technology companies are often deemed arduous for two reasons - one, the large number of candidates interviewing for a given position; and, two, the lengthy and challenging interview process itself that seeks to filter out candidates at every stage of the process.
The big daddies of tech, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple, have all adopted stringent testing practices, extending offers to only the best candidates. Nevertheless, it isn’t impossible to emerge successful in these interviews - all you need is a time-tested and proven recipe for success, and this article will help you learn how to cook one.
Whether you’re a programmer with years of experience or a recent college graduate, understand that cracking coding interviews requires a dedicated approach that covers a wide selection of topics and focus-areas. Devoting several hours to practice and understanding exactly what areas to focus on are hallmarks of a successful candidate.
Often, talented engineers are caught off guard at these interviews, mainly because the questions asked differ starkly from what their everyday programming tasks entail. Programming and technology skills developed over years of professional experience often fall short of bearing fruit in an actual coding interview.
Given this, we’ve compiled a set of coding interview tips to help you crack technical interviews at the biggest companies.
9 tips to crack your next technical interview.
- Understand the interview process
Knowing what to expect at these interviews is paramount. Most top technology companies have the following interview rounds as part of their recruitment process:
The Phone Screen Round: This round involves writing code via a shared screen with the interviewer and typically lasts about 30 minutes. Prepare to solve coding problems in the language of your choice. You’ll most likely be asked a fundamental programming problem to solve. Practicing a elementary problems in the language you’re proficient at should get you through this round quite easily.
The In-Person Interviews: The in-person interviews typically have 3-4 rounds that test a candidate’s core strength in key areas including programming and problem solving. Being aware of the different rounds will help you know exactly what areas to focus on.
This is usually the hiring norm with most tech companies, including FAANG companies. Doing a little more research on what to expect as far as the interview rounds are concerned will help you stay ahead of your competition.
- Cover a wide range of technical topics
If you wish to crack the toughest coding interviews, especially at FAANG companies, your preparation has to be comprehensive. Covering a wide range of topics will help you answer and solve a lot more questions than the average candidate. Your technical interview preparation should cover the following topics:
- Data structures
- Algorithmic coding
- Problem solving
- Systems design
- Algorithmic design
- Practice as many problems as possible
Successful candidates who’ve cracked exacting interviews at FAANG companies testify that practicing as many problems as possible is important. Dedicated practice will allow you to solve coding problems with confidence, while also enabling you to identify inherent patterns in questions. You cannot be sure if the same questions you’ve practiced are going to appear in the interview.
Companies often rotate between an existing set of questions, especially regarding systems design and algorithmic coding. However, you can often expect questions you’ve never encountered before, with patterns resembling the ones you’ve practiced. Hence, make sure to practice a lot of problems because that’s the only way to give yourself the best shot at these interviews.
- Don't forget to practice mock interviews
Mock interviews work like a charm, equipping you with the perfect tools to succeed. A simulated environment often has the right ingredients to bring out real and innate tendencies, allowing you to identify and correct your mistakes effectively. Perhaps the best thing about mock interviews is that they’ll give you clarity in understanding where you stand, and whether your preparation is adequate. Considering you may have clocked-in numerous prep hours before appearing for a mock interview, you can revisit areas you might have missed out or are lagging behind.
- Make behavioral questions part of your interview prep
Many companies have, in recent times, included behavioral rounds to evaluate soft skills of candidates. Although seemingly insignificant, psychological influences play a big part in influencing the final outcome of a coding interview. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself for non-technical questions as well.
To understand what to expect in a behavioral interview, check out these 9 Behavioral Questions asked at top companies.
- Make sure to get help if you need it
Technical interview training has become very popular in recent times, given the high levels of difficulty associated with cracking these interviews. Subscribing to an online program or signing up for a dedicated interview training course can take you a long way in cracking the coding game. An overwhelming percentage of successful candidates have claimed that actually subscribing to an interview training course made a big difference. So don’t think too hard about it - sign up for a good training course if you think it’ll give you the edge you need.
- Prepare for telephonic and online interviews
Telephonic and online interviews (at least in recent times post COVID-19) are given considerable weightage in the final decision to hire you While you solve coding problems, don’t forget to check out these helpful Phone Interview Tips and Online Interview Tips.
- Clarify doubts
Don’t be afraid to ask or clarify doubts in the interview. Keep a cool head, understand your questions thoroughly, and make sure you clarify doubts that may arise.
- Learn from experiences of other candidates
Do your research on what other candidates have experienced at these interviews. Learn about the various rounds at specific companies for specific positions, behavioral questions, and suggestions that they may have. This will help you unlock areas you may not have been aware about, and prepare you for what to expect.