Programmer/developer interview stories!

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#1 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:36 PM

Well-- I will be applying for developing jobs in about 8 months and I was wondering what to expect. Do you guys/gals mind sharing your stories? What happened? What questions did you get asked? Anything horrible go wrong? Funny?

I am sure you have a bunch of stories!

:)
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#2 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:39 PM

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One time I was applying for a Unix admin job, & the guy whom I was replacing was retiring. He was also giving the interview. He asked the age-old question (that you'll get asked a LOT), where do you see yourself in five years. Like usual, I didn't have an answer for this. He quickly said "Honestly, I don't care where you are in five years, you could tank the company for all I care, I'm out of here anyway...".

lol
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#3 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:41 PM

Haha, I am sure that lightened the mood up. It kind of lets you know how the guy feels about the company and job, too.

XD
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#4 Topher84  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 11 July 2011 - 10:44 PM

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You'll probably get a lot of WTF? questions. I have a Masters and got asked if I knew what a Database was. Needless to say I was not amused with that interview. Be prepared for people to NOT look at your resume at all or if they do it will be right when you are talking to them for the first time. I won't get into my hatred of FizzBuzz but you actually may want to look at a few of the "puzzle" questions for pesky interviewers.

Some tips (in no particular order):

1. Glassdoor.com - TONS of information including salary ranges and interview reviews of companies
2. Dice.com - AMAZING site for tech people looking for jobs
3. DIC of course

This has been the process for EVERY single interview I've had.

1. Phone screen to ask you some basic behavior or technology questions. They don't really tell you which type of questions you are going to get so you may want to ask.
2. Technical interview/phone interview where they may ask you some basic language feature questions like "Why does Java run in a VM" or "If you could add 1 feature to a language what would it be?". They may/may not ask you more technical questions.
3. Flyout/Drive for a meeting. This could either be technical or non-technical depending on what has happened before the this step.
4. Offer/Rejection. You WILL get rejected. Don't let it bother you. I've been rejected plenty of times and I know I am not bad. You'll most likely not get any feedback as to why but know that the job market is flooded w/ people with experience right now.
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#5 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 11 July 2011 - 11:04 PM

Great post!

Is it common for them to fly you out on their dime? I plan to be applying all over the USA and I don't think I could afford to shell out money every time to fly out on my own.

I am about to finish my MS as well! I would be quite shocked with such a basic question and kind of irritated if I felt they didn't read the resume.
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#6 Nightfish  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 12 July 2011 - 03:42 AM

View Poststackoverflow, on 11 July 2011 - 11:04 PM, said:

I would be quite shocked with such a basic question and kind of irritated if I felt they didn't read the resume.


Depending on how badly you want the job, try not to be all like "This is an outrage! It will be pistols at dawn, Sir. You will hear from my second presently".

I keep reading stuff like "If anyone asked me such a lame question I would get up and leave!". That's just not very smart. Stop and think for a moment. The guy conducting the interview has probably done this more often than you. Assuming he's not a complete retard, he probably has a reason for asking this. Could be he's just trying to put you at ease by giving you something to start talking about you can't possibly not know. Could be he just wants to see how you explain something as basic as this. Could be any number of things. Also, some people graduating are really, really bad. Not everyone is as awesome as you are.
Do keep in mind that you are not the only one applying for any given job and even if you are not going to end up taking the job right then, it costs you nothing to stay polite. You never know when you run into someone again and if you make a very bad first impression... Not saying you have to suck up to anyone, but going out of your way to piss people off just doesn't strike me as the sensible thing to do.


During the interview, all obvious things aside, try to be relaxed and present yourself as a person who's easy to get along with. You know, all that soft skills bullshit like pretending to not be a homicidal maniac and being able to work in a team, etc.


As far as travel expenses are concerned, most companies expected me to cover that, but as the highest amout I spent on one trip was 10$ in gasoline that was not a big deal. I definetly wouldn't start jetting around the globe on the off chance I get a job. If it's far away you will probably do some tele-interviews first and if they are serious about hireing you they will pay for it. I've even heard stories where companies would schedule your flight for a friday so you could spend the weekend exploring the town and they'd pay the hotel cost, etc.
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#7 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 12 July 2011 - 05:03 AM

That sounds great-- I hope I am that lucky.

I wouldn't show my outrage. I would play it pretty cool. I bet there are some companies that either use an interviewer that doesn't know a whole lot about developing (like some management guy) or management hands some senior developer full of pre-made silly questions to ask.

Any interview I get I am going to give it my all. :)
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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 12 July 2011 - 05:48 AM

+1 for Glassdoor.com - definitely a useful resource. Also, I can't stress enough having an interesting cover letter. If you want to stand out, write one for every company you apply to - no generic cover letters that you fill in information or edit to suit your needs.
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#9 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 12 July 2011 - 06:48 AM

Thanks-- I plan to do that and I hope to design my resume to be very simple and straight forward. I read a lot of managers and interviewers like that.

Up front experience, followed by skills then education etc.

This post has been edited by stackoverflow: 12 July 2011 - 06:49 AM

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#10 Curtis Rutland  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 13 July 2011 - 08:24 AM

@Topher84, I know you said you hate FizzBuzz, but there's a reason for it:

http://www.codinghor...rs-program.html

Anyway, most companies aren't going to be impressed by your degree, however high it is. I've worked with someone who had both degree and nearly 10 years of "programming" experience, and it would take him months to do something the rest of us could do in days, and it would come out very poorly. The degree opens the door for you, but it doesn't mean you're automatically going to be a great employee.

Also, during a recent round of interviews, we had several candidates try to BS us about their experience. Asking them questions about what they claim to know on their resume isn't insulting, it's verification. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we can't take everything at face value.
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#11 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 13 July 2011 - 09:48 AM

I've found that my degree gets me in, but I don't count on it to prove my abilities - after some of the jackwagons I graduated with, that's probably a good thing.
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#12 Topher84  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 15 July 2011 - 05:51 PM

Yeah, I agree with you about the problems but I don't have to LIKE it :)

I've bombed a few interviews even w/ my education. There is just NO way to know what someone is going to ask you but as long as you are honest, you should be OK.
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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 16 July 2011 - 12:00 PM

Just got back from an interview.

Some things off the top of my head:

Typical Questions I was asked are:
  • Fibonacci Sequence (recursive, iterative, growth as n increases of each)
  • Reverse a string iteratively and recursively
  • Recursion in general: Why it can cause problems, what the advantages are, tail recursion
  • Hashmap related things
  • Circular array
  • Write a SQL statement


Less typical:
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Fastest time to solve a word scramble
  • Figure out that a function being given is fold right.
  • NP-completeness questions

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#14 Raynes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 16 July 2011 - 03:01 PM

I've only had one interview (this is my first job) and it was a phone interview. It was with the former CTO of the company I work at. The most memorable question he asked me was "How would you do a twitter-like application with users like Ashton Kutcher with millions of followers...". It took me a few minutes to think that one over and ignore the urge to reply with "I wouldn't.". Months later, the current CTO (who is a very good friend of mine) told me that the former CTO said I had the right answer.

It isn't really funny, but it was a little amusing, because I was like "wut" when I answered the question.
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#15 Gavisann  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programmer/developer interview stories!

Posted 16 July 2011 - 04:33 PM

View PostRaynes, on 16 July 2011 - 05:01 PM, said:

I've only had one interview (this is my first job) and it was a phone interview. It was with the former CTO of the company I work at. The most memorable question he asked me was "How would you do a twitter-like application with users like Ashton Kutcher with millions of followers...". It took me a few minutes to think that one over and ignore the urge to reply with "I wouldn't.". Months later, the current CTO (who is a very good friend of mine) told me that the former CTO said I had the right answer.

It isn't really funny, but it was a little amusing, because I was like "wut" when I answered the question.

I would have said, " I would make it like Twitter."

Out of curiosity, how did you answer?
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