Coding interviews are a common part of the hiring process for software engineering positions. While some people excel at these interviews, experienced developers may still struggle to perform well, even with 10+ years of experence and impressive track of record.
In this article, we’ll explore some reasons why experienced developers may fail, be aware and to take steps to improve the performance, ultimately increase chances of success in coding interviews.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” - Nelson Mandela
One of the biggest reasons why experienced developers may fail coding interviews is overconfidence. They may assume that their years of experience and expertise in the field will be enough to handle any challenge that comes their way. However, coding interviews are designed to test a specific set of skills, and experience alone may not be enough to pass them.
In some cases, overconfidence may lead experienced developers to skip important steps in the problem-solving process. They may assume that they know the answer without fully understanding the problem or exploring all possible solutions. This can lead to mistakes and inaccuracies in their code, ultimately leading to a failed interview.
Solution: While experience is valuable, it’s important to have a strong foundation in the fundamentals of data structures and algorithms. Developers should focus on building and maintaining these skills, even if they are not used on a daily basis in their work.
Another reason why experienced developers may struggle with coding interviews is simply a lack of practice. If a developer has been working in the industry for several years, they may not have had much experience with coding challenges or algorithmic problems.
Coding interviews typically focus on specific skills, such as data structures and algorithms, that may not be used on a daily basis in a developer’s work. Without regular practice, these skills may become rusty, and developers may struggle to apply them in a high-pressure interview setting.
Solution: The more practice developers have with coding challenges and algorithmic problems, the better prepared they will be for coding interviews. There are many resources available for developers to practice, including online coding challenges and practice interviews with friends or colleagues.
Time management is a crucial skill in coding interviews. Developers are often given a limited amount of time to solve a complex problem, and they must be able to efficiently allocate their time to each step of the problem-solving process.
Experienced developers may be used to working on projects that take weeks or even months to complete, and they may not be accustomed to the time constraints of a coding interview. They may spend too much time on one part of the problem, leaving them with little time to complete the rest of the task. This can lead to rushed or incomplete code, resulting in a failed interview.
Solution: Developers can improve their time management skills by practicing with timed coding challenges and focusing on efficient problem-solving techniques. They should also be aware of the time constraints in a coding interview and develop strategies for allocating their time effectively.
In coding interviews, communication is key. Developers must be able to clearly explain their thought process and the steps they are taking to solve a problem. They must also be able to receive feedback and ask questions when necessary.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” - Albert Einstein
Experienced developers may be used to working independently or with a small team, and they may not have had much experience with communication in a high-pressure interview setting. They may struggle to explain their thought process clearly or to ask for clarification when needed. This can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes in their code.
Solution: Developers can practice their communication skills by explaining their thought process out loud while working on coding challenges or by practicing mock interviews with a friend or colleague. They should also be aware of the importance of asking for clarification and giving and receiving feedback.
In the constantly evolving field of software development, new technologies and tools are emerging all the time. Even experienced developers may not have had much exposure to these new technologies, especially if they have been working on the same projects for several years.
If a coding interview requires knowledge of a new technology, an experienced developer may struggle to answer related questions or complete coding challenges that involve that technology. To address this issue, developers should stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and actively seek out opportunities to learn new skills.
Coding interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for those who are not used to performing under pressure. Experienced developers may feel additional pressure to perform well due to their years of experience and their reputation in the field.
If nerves and anxiety are interfering with a developer’s performance in coding interviews, it may be helpful to practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualization, before the interview. Developers can also seek support from a mentor, friend, or therapist to manage their anxiety.
Coding interviews often involve complex problems that require attention to detail and a methodical approach. Experienced developers may be used to working on larger projects where minor errors may not have a significant impact on the final product.
In a coding interview, however, small errors can be the difference between a passing or failing score. Developers should pay close attention to details such as syntax, edge cases, and data types to avoid simple mistakes that can impact their performance.
The materials that you need to learn in order to prepare for tech interviews are much different than what you typically encounter with on your day to day job.
Failing an interview question that you encountered for the very first time is fine, however, failing on the second time with the exact same question is not ok.
At the end of the day, failing coding interviews are normal, because everyone has to stumble at some point but it’s important that you learn from your past mistakes and get back up to try again. Don’t let your past failed interviews put you down, the more you failed, the more experience you gained and eventually you will do well in a coding interview.
Be humbled and believe in yourself. Good luck!