A common concern among novice programmers is the fear of uncertainty when it comes to programming interviews. Many new programmers and students prepare themselves for this occasion by trying to learn everything in the textbook. While this may help a programmer with a test, it isn’t necessarily going to help him or her with an interview. Now don’t get me wrong, you should absolutely read upon programming textbooks before an interview; however, don’t just try to memorize the concepts theoretically instead learn their logical applications.
The purpose of a programming interview is to assess your technical skills. The majority of the interview is going to revolve around discussing computer science topics and their real-life applications. The other portion of the interview is going to be similar to that of any other interview where the interviewer will try to evaluate your communication skills and they will try to determine whether you would be a good fit for the company. I have participated in plenty of programming events and I have spoken to numerous recruiters and from what I have seen the three types of questions that are often put forth in a programming interview are factual questions, technical questions, and creative questions.
- Factual Questions: Factual questions are questions where there is only one right answer. These question often pertain to computer science topics. For example, the interviewer might ask you, “What is an abstract class?” or “What is polymorphism?”. Be sure to study up on the latest technologies of your sector. The purpose of these types of questions is to assess your knowledge of programming.
- Technical Questions: Technical questions are questions where you have to perform a task for an interviewer. Technical questions are often hands on. Most technical questions revolve around databases and algorithms. The interviewer might ask you to create an algorithm that can perform certain functions or they might ask you to write a snippet of code that connects the front end to the back end. The purpose of these questions is to analyze how you approach problems and how you solve them.
- Creative Questions: Creative questions are questions where the interviewer tries to get you to think outside of the box. These types of questions are usually puzzle oriented questions and often times require innovative answers. For example, Google used to ask its interns, “ A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?”. Well, the answer is that the man was playing monopoly and if you land on someone else’s property you lose your belongings. The purpose of these types of questions is to bring out your creative side and force you to think outside of the box.