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#1 AbzyWabzy   User is offline

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What should I expect from a code review interview?

Post icon  Posted 28 May 2016 - 06:17 AM

I will be attending an interview for a graduate role, this interview will mainly include questions revolved around a few academic projects I have developed and code samples I have produced.

I am not quite sure what sort of questions to expect, would they be revolved around design and implementation choices or more specifically to the code (i.e libraries or language features used).

Can you please provide any suggestions as to what to expect! forget about competency based questions this is mainly in regards to the code review!

would you also advice that I should look into how code reviews are carried out in the industry?

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#2 tlhIn`toq   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 28 May 2016 - 07:44 AM

There are 10,000 software developer employers out there.
They are all different companies.
Unlike the school environment you are leaving, there is no standardized testing.
One company is going to give a laptop with some broken code and ask you to fix the bug.
Another is going to ask you how you create singleton objects.
Another is going to grill you about architecting with an MVVM pattern.
My last few interview focused a lot about my hobby projects: What I do for fun programming. I guess they are trying to find the area that best matches the person's motivation.
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#3 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 28 May 2016 - 01:12 PM

Not sure what you mean by saying "code review interview", but maybe you mean a technical interview. This is a standard step the interview process, but as our Klingon friend observes, it is not a standardized one. The only safe assumption is that the interviewer's purpose is to find some indication of your strengths and limitations as a programmer. Typically, this is done by asking some questions that they consider basic to their needs, and then exploring based on what they find there. Often they'll want to know about practical chops (Do you reach for regex when someone says "I'm looking for a file that contains X?" Can you spot the bug in this function? Can you suggest some improvements to this code?) as well as more academic understanding ("That's a pretty good approach - how would you say it scales as N gets big?"). But the whole point of this interview is to see how you react to questions that you're not prepped for, because that's what you're being hired to deal with. A programmer is hired to make new things that they haven't made before, and in the process they might have to deal with problems in existing code that nobody thought to fix before. This means that trying to study for it is sort of pointless. Go in expecting to have an interesting conversation with an interesting person about interesting problems, and enjoy yourself. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know the answer to that" or to ask clarifying questions. Beyond that, have fun, and be yourself. After all, if this works out you're going to be working with this person for the next few years, and it would be a drag to realize that the person they thought they were hiring was just a persona you put on for the interview.
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#4 andrewsw   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 28 May 2016 - 01:41 PM

In an interview I had a while ago they gave me a tiny Mac laptop (I don't use Macs!) and said "Here's a fixed site, make it responsive." Then "Find and fix the problem in this Javascript" and "Add this JS feature to this page".

I'm sure they weren't expecting me to solve everything there and then (although I did, largely ;) ), they were more interested in how I approached and discussed the tasks, and the fact that I didn't just collapse in a heap.
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#5 AbzyWabzy   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 28 May 2016 - 03:29 PM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 28 May 2016 - 01:12 PM, said:

Not sure what you mean by saying "code review interview", but maybe you mean a technical interview. This is a standard step the interview process, but as our Klingon friend observes, it is not a standardized one. The only safe assumption is that the interviewer's purpose is to find some indication of your strengths and limitations as a programmer. Typically, this is done by asking some questions that they consider basic to their needs, and then exploring based on what they find there. Often they'll want to know about practical chops (Do you reach for regex when someone says "I'm looking for a file that contains X?" Can you spot the bug in this function? Can you suggest some improvements to this code?) as well as more academic understanding ("That's a pretty good approach - how would you say it scales as N gets big?"). But the whole point of this interview is to see how you react to questions that you're not prepped for, because that's what you're being hired to deal with. A programmer is hired to make new things that they haven't made before, and in the process they might have to deal with problems in existing code that nobody thought to fix before. This means that trying to study for it is sort of pointless. Go in expecting to have an interesting conversation with an interesting person about interesting problems, and enjoy yourself. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know the answer to that" or to ask clarifying questions. Beyond that, have fun, and be yourself. After all, if this works out you're going to be working with this person for the next few years, and it would be a drag to realize that the person they thought they were hiring was just a persona you put on for the interview.



Thanks for the advice, some of the things you have noted are closely related to the approach I take in these interviews.

What I meant by a "code review interview" is that the interviewer has asked me to upload some of the projects that I have coded, they said that during the interview the question will be based around my code! I am not quite sure what they will ask me about!

Would it be about the specific libraries I have used or functions? Or about design choices I made? (I know I cant know for sure)

I know that these interviews are not standardised and that different companies take different approaches, but it would be nice to gather info and suggestions.

View Postandrewsw, on 28 May 2016 - 01:41 PM, said:

In an interview I had a while ago they gave me a tiny Mac laptop (I don't use Macs!) and said "Here's a fixed site, make it responsive." Then "Find and fix the problem in this Javascript" and "Add this JS feature to this page".

I'm sure they weren't expecting me to solve everything there and then (although I did, largely ;)/> ), they were more interested in how I approached and discussed the tasks, and the fact that I didn't just collapse in a heap.


Was this a graduate interview by any chance?
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#6 andrewsw   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 28 May 2016 - 03:38 PM

No, not a graduate interview specifically.

If your interview is about code you have uploaded then the interviewers themselves may not yet have decided what questions they will ask, probably just a broad outline initially. I'd suggest that you just look through your projects to remind yourself of some things that you may have forgotten since.
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#7 tlhIn`toq   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 28 May 2016 - 04:19 PM

View PostAbzyWabzy, on 28 May 2016 - 04:29 PM, said:

What I meant by a "code review interview" is that the interviewer has asked me to upload some of the projects that I have coded, they said that during the interview the question will be based around my code! I am not quite sure what they will ask me about!

Would it be about [...]


You're transitioning from the world of school to the world of grown ups. So don't be mad if I speak to you as one adult to another.

How is it you think we know what some unnamed company is going to ask you about your code that we've never seen?
You do realize that we have absolutely no point of reference what so ever... Right?
We don't know the company, we don't know you, we don't know the code they're looking at.

Hypothetically the code could be ground-breaking. It could be so advanced that they doubt a student wrote it. They might ask you lot of stuff about it to determine if you really did create it, or if you just copy/pasted it from other on-line sources.

Hypothetically you really did just copy/paste it from a dozen sources and they did some searching and found those sources and want to see if you're going to be honest and own up to that, or try to play off that its original and yours.

Hypothetically it could be so bad that they wonder if you've ever even opened a text book. They might ask you lots of basic stuff just to see if you've ever shown up to class.

Maybe the code is more or less on line with what they expect of a student, and want to ask you *why* you picked a certain direction with some of the methods.

Maybe they see how some of your code might dove-tail with one of their current projects.

Maybe they don't see how any of your code aligns with any of their projects.

I respect that you want to prep for this test as you would any of the previous tests you've taken over the last few years. But... The real world just doesn't work the way school does.

All you can do is make sure you understand everything in the code you provided them: Regardless of where it came from; since that is what you mostly know the interview will be about. If you acquired any of it from someplace other than your own brain make sure you can answer anything they ask you about it. "Why did you choose this pattern?" "Why didn't you use a database for this?" "Why WCF instead of a REST service for this part?" "Why not a linq expression here?"

This post has been edited by tlhIn`toq: 29 May 2016 - 04:02 AM

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#8 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 28 May 2016 - 05:12 PM

Be able to identify what and why. Why did you do this when this library exists that already does that functionality? What were you thinking about how to approach this? Can you explain that further?

Interviews are like tests; you are either ready or not. You can over think it, or you can go with the flow. Know the code you sent them inside and out and be able to articulate and possibly defend your approach.
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#9 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 28 May 2016 - 05:27 PM

View PostAbzyWabzy, on 28 May 2016 - 05:29 PM, said:

What I meant by a "code review interview" is that the interviewer has asked me to upload some of the projects that I have coded, they said that during the interview the question will be based around my code! I am not quite sure what they will ask me about!



Fun! This will actually be pretty cool. They're looking to understand how you think about code that you're pretty familiar with. You just have to be ready to talk about how the code got this way, and why. They might go into how decisions were made on this project - if there are other people involved, how dod you organize yourselves, how was the architecture arrived at, how did you deal with conflicts.
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#10 AbzyWabzy   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 29 May 2016 - 03:59 AM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 28 May 2016 - 04:19 PM, said:

View PostAbzyWabzy, on 28 May 2016 - 04:29 PM, said:

What I meant by a "code review interview" is that the interviewer has asked me to upload some of the projects that I have coded, they said that during the interview the question will be based around my code! I am not quite sure what they will ask me about!

Would it be about [...]


You're transitioning from the world of school to the world of grown ups. So don't be made if I speak to you as one adult to another.

..


Thanks a lot, will definitely take your advice! :)/> Sorry if you got the impression that I was mad but I am not I was just expanding on the made up term that I used and was also expand on what I knew so far.

I just have one more concern, sometimes I compare different libraries or functions before using them and sometimes I don't, lets say they ask me a question, asking why I chose one library over another while I didn't compare the two libraries or have no knowledge of the one they refer to, what would be the best response in this case?

This post has been edited by andrewsw: 29 May 2016 - 04:12 AM
Reason for edit:: reduced huge quote

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#11 andrewsw   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 29 May 2016 - 04:11 AM

What other response could you give than to admit that you have no knowledge of that library? Any attempt to discuss a library that you have no knowledge of would be foolish.

If you know "something" about it then you could say "I know this.." but don't guess, that won't be productive. Don't dig yourself a hole.
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#12 AbzyWabzy   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 29 May 2016 - 04:15 AM

View Postandrewsw, on 29 May 2016 - 04:11 AM, said:

What other response could you give than to admit that you have no knowledge of that library? Any attempt to discuss a library that you have no knowledge of would be foolish.


I agree it is better not to speak about that which I may have no knowledge of. My concern is would it be bad to say "This is the functionality I was looking for at that time, once I found it within this specific library I stopped my search" should I add (I should have probably looked into other similar functions and compared them then made a decision)?

:)

Thanks
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#13 andrewsw   User is offline

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Re: What should I expect from a code review interview?

Posted 29 May 2016 - 04:19 AM

By the time the interview starts you probably won't remember what you "planned" to say ;)
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