Computer science (CS) majors and employed software engineers should always consider using a technical recruiter when they are ready to being their job search. Using a recruiter saves so much time and can make the interview process much easier. Without a recruiter, it’s a lot like trying to sell or buy a house without an agent. It’s possible…but it involves many extra steps that you most likely don’t even have time to do.
But technical recruiters alone aren’t enough. Software engineers (SE) who use a recruiter still only have a 1 in 25 chance of getting an offer. That means, regardless of how amazing their recruiter is…their dream company may not be interested. There are several reasons why a tech interview can go badly. The biggest, most common reason is that software engineer recruits simply are not prepared and their recruiters aren’t trained in the technical aspects to help them get ready.
What are the issues then that CS majors and SE’s are facing?
- They didn’t study the right way
- They get stuck on a problem and can’t get unstuck
- They forget to be human – not a computer
- They forget to talk through the code
The first issue is that they didn’t study right. Studying the “right way” means that they didn’t just try to memorize common problems and hope that they’ll be able to solve whatever algorithm is thrown at them. Many people fall into the coding bootcamp and 2 week cram session trap. This sounds like a good idea because they desperately want to get an offer from Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. But in reality it isn’t preparing them the right way, and it typically leads to nervousness and anxiety.
To properly prepare there are several things they should do..
- Mock interviews – Pramp, Gainlo
- Practice problems – InterviewCake, Byte by Byte
- Drill down the issues you keep getting stuck on
- Dynamic programming
- Brute force solution
- Big oh notation
- Work through Cracking the Coding Interview book
Before they begin any of the above items, they will want to come up with a studying game plan. Deciding when they want to begin interviewing, and then figure out how many problems/how much time they should devote each day to get ready. Most companies will have the recruit pass a phone screen before an onsite interview. But they want to be ready for both so they aren’t scrambling when the call comes.
The second reason they fail is that they get stuck on a problem and can’t get out of it. This problem seemingly ruins the entire interview because then they begin to panic or simply give up. What they can do are to 1.) find a brute force solution 2.) fully understand the problem 3.) work through the problem by hand 4.) brainstorm different data structures and algorithms 5.) consider all the information they have been given 6.) simplify the problem 7.) breakdown the problem into subproblems 8.) take a step back 9.) collaborate with their interviewer, and lastly 10.) ask for help.
The third reason software engineers fail their coding interviews is because they are too focused on getting the right answer that they forget to be themselves. To let their personality shine through so that the interviewer can see if they would fit in well with the office. Will they click or are they not a good fit? This is important even in the tech industry. Companies want to know that their current employees will mesh well with the new hire….and it should be equally important for the SE to want that as well.
Lastly, many times the interviewee gets wrapped up in their own head. Thinking through the problem but not actually talking through the problem. This is a big concern for companies because they need to hear what they are doing and thinking. Simply talking as they work is a highly effective way of communicating their skill set and abilities.
Tech recruiters can help their clients succeed and get the best offers by giving them resources to study and prepare. It’s free to do, easy to send, and will payback huge dividends in the long-run when they get better offers from top tech companies.