Going in for that awesome software engineering job interview next week but no clue how to prepare? We'll you're in luck....here a a few tips, some of them pretty basic but the lesson here is that there is no substitute for being prepared.
(For anyone hoping I'll reveal the secret sauce of the Google interview.....sorry, during this blog we'll pretend I'm interviewing for an engineering role at Microsoft)
1) Remember what you've done - Sounds simple right? It's not. What technologies did you use in 1999 when you built that "web application'? Now, just because you used Visual InterDev on Windows 95 doesn't mean you should go buy an InterDev book and brush up.....not at all. But you DO want to take a few minutes, remember what you did, how you did it and what you liked about it. So that way when someone asks the information is fresh and you can answer even the most trivial question intelligently.
2) Dust off your old CS books - That's right, take them off the shelf and relearn everything you've forgotten about Computer Science. The goal here is to be able to show your interviewers that you know the core principles of your job. Crank out data structures, algorithms and nail a few complexity questions and your interview will go much better than replying with something thought provoking like "when I need answers like that, I Google them".....um, that's great but it's likely the company your interviewing with wants you to push the envelope, not just use Google (Bing? or Yahoo? Altavista still around?) every time you get stuck....
3) Do your research - Recurring theme here, preparation. Take a few minutes to search out blogs or news groups to give you some sample interview questions. Sounds simple, but so few people do it, it's amazing. Let's say I'm interviewing at Microsoft for a job as a software engineer...ha,ha, riiiight. Here's what you do:
- Search "Microsoft Interview Questions" and you'll get about 2.3 millions results - this one looked pretty good http://www.sellsbrothers.com/fun/msiview/default.aspx?content=question.htm#algs
- Check out http://microsoftjobsblog.com/ (propaganda alert!!!!) and get some "insider information
- Ping people in your LinkedIn network or other folks who you know have interviewed with Microsoft....pick their brains and learn from their experience.
4) Practice, practice, practice - Go to a site like "stackoverflow.com", "topcoder.com" or find other coding contests, competitions etc. You can also find tons of puzzle sites and things like that to really help you get your head around the kinds of problems you are likely to find. Check out books like "Smart and Gets Things Done" by Joel Spolsky, or "Ace the Technical Interview" by Michael Rothstein. A quick search on Amazon for "Technical Interviews" will find a ton of great resources.No magic bullet here, just time and due diligence. Trust me, THIS will pay off.
I think those tips will help, there is no one piece of advice to help you with the technical interview. Just be prepared, know your stuff and take a deep breath....you can't interview well if you aren't relaxed.
I'm on vacation next week...but good luck and happy hunting everyone!