5 Mistakes Software Engineers Make On Their Job Interview

Being a genius software engineer won’t get you very far if you can’t get past the interview. I asked some tech executives about common mistakes they see software engineers making during interviews, and how to avoid these pitfalls and impress whoever’s sitting across the table.


1. Neglecting interview-specific practice.

According to Tigran Sloyan, CEO of CodeFights, “The #1 mistake developers make when preparing for technical interviews is not practicing using real interview questions. As a great developer you often think ‘this is what I do for a living and I am good at it’ so it’s tempting to walk into an interview without much practice. The reality is, interview questions you face at most companies are very far away from your day job which means you need deliberate practice using the types of questions you are going to be tested on.”

“There are many examples out there that show this gap between ‘what you get asked at an interview’ and ‘what your job duties are going to be’. Take a look at this interview question which often gets asked at companies like Amazon, Linkedin, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. To solve it you need to understand the concept of Prefix Sums. If you have never heard of it before, good luck solving this during a technical interview with all the added pressures that come with having someone you just met sitting across the table from you and watching you intensely. The concept itself is not very difficult but it doesn’t come up that often in real-world scenarios so most professional developers have either not heard about it before or learned about it passingly in junior year of their Computer Science program.”

2. Relying on technical skills as the golden ticket.

Dan Melnick, Chief Operating Officer at Reverb.com, says, “If you can nail the technical parts of an interview, such as a pairing code challenge, that’s great. But it doesn’t end there. The best candidates—who eventually go on to make the best team…

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