How to prepare for a code interview in a week

When you apply for a job, you never expect that recruiters scheduled the required interview as soon as next week. However, that happens all the time, since recruiters of big companies are always eager to get new candidates for the always demanding tech industry.

Even when you think that a week is too soon to be prepared, there are actually lots of things you can do to be sharp as a pencil and ready for the interview.  Let’s review what you can do now to boost your chance to excel at that interview and get the job of your dreams.

Basic knowledge review

First, you have to make sure to review your basic knowledge in order to refresh the aspects you are going to be asked about. Even when you think that your computer science foundation is solid, it will not harm to study the area of expertise to be interviewed from the scratch.

Make sure to go over basic stuff like basic data structures/algorithms to ensure you remember all of them, and then review all the material related to the programming language you are supposed to be interviewed about. I recommend two main resources to review your Basic knowledge: The Technical Interview Cheat Sheet and Big-O cheat sheet. 

Remember: You're not going to learn anything new within a week. You're just making sure that what you know is solid and readily available for you to demonstrate to the interviewer.

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Before sitting down to study, prepare a realistic timeline taking into account that you only have one week to get ready for your interview. Try to make it as detailed as possible, covering what you should look for each day till the interview. With that schedule at hand, then put a timer beside you and start working, sticking to your timeline as close as possible. 

Another consideration that you need to make is how fast you can solve a coding question. You do not actually know how fast you code unless you time yourself, so keep tracking your time even if it makes you nervous. If you are, it is a good practice since the interviewer wills definitely are going to time you. So get adapt to solve coding problems under pressure and you will do it naturally at the interview. 

Mock interviews

Being interviewed several times and doing great will definitely raise your confidence. In the end, if you had interviewed for Google successfully for 5 times in the past, what could go wrong? 

You can call for help if you have friends working at top tech companies to act as mock interviewers. If you don’t, you can always rely on Gainlo for mock interviews, or and

Those reenacts will help you to spot your weakness and gain confidence to surpass nervousness. Anyway, going over and over different interviews is the best way to avoid going blank when the real one comes. 

Try to do at least 2 mock interviews before the real one, in order to get used to the tone and deep of knowledge you will have to display. 

Be familiar with whiteboard/code sharing tools

Sometimes the interviewer will announce to you if the coding section of the interview will be done on-site interview or phone screen. Anyway, the platform will be definitely unfamiliar to you, more than your regular editor or IDE.

Therefore, you need to use your time wisely and practice with a whiteboard or code-sharing tools that will be used. Take into account that whiteboard coding is different from coding on your regular setup. The golden rule here is to mimic the interview environment and practice coding on it throughout the preparation week. With practice, this non-technical issue will not have a negative effect on your performance.

Problem-solving strategy

One of the best ways to be successful in your interviews is to review your problem-solving strategy. Do not rely on staring at the problem and waiting that a magical solution pops up. 

Always analyze the problem in front of you using a consistent solving process. That way, it doesn't matter what the interviewer will ask you: you'll always be prepared. 

Know more about the company

Another important thing to do in the days previous to your appointment is to be clear about why do you want to work with that company, because that will be a question that the interviewer will ask you for sure.

Lots of companies values the so-called culture fit at the same grade as the technical skills, so you need to be clear and communicate why you are the best fit for that company and otherwise. So try to understand the company values and policy to make sure you are making the right decision, and not just for the salary. If the company resonates with you, you are making sure that you will not end up in a terrible work environment that you do not want for your future. 

Test your code skills with our Challenges

We have prepared for you a large collection of code challenges covering most of the programming languages that represent the state-of-the-art in computer science and software development demanded by the biggest companies in the technology industry. You can challenge yourself with them previous to your interview, to be sure that your problem-solving strategies and language knowledge are sharp and ready for the interview ahead.

Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

An interview is a two-way road, and an opportunity for you to clarify any doubts you may have regarding to the work conditions and scope of the job position that you are applying to. Then, be sure to prepare questions to ask to your interviewer so both end up happy with the information shared during the interview. 

Take also into account that the interviewer will be pleased to see how you are also involved in the whole process, asking pertinent questions about the position you are applying for. That gives you another chance to impress your interviews, asking about the company culture, products, technical infrastructure available to you working at that company, and so forth. 

Of course, you should not expect to get any feedback on your interview performance right away. Remember that the interviewer had to look up several candidates at that point, and possibly he or she need to analyze several more before taking a decision. 

Sleep well

I know that the waiting can be stressful and the time short, but you should not sacrifice your sleeping hours to prepare for an interview. If you need more time to prepare, try cutting down other activities during the week previous to the interview. Take also into account that sometimes you will need to travel for an on-site interview, so plan your trip ahead to give you enough time to rest well before the interview.

And that’s all the pieces of advice that I can give you to prepare yourself for an interview in a week. I hope it helps to manage your time wisely and get the position of your dreams excelling at your job interview. 

Master coding interviews for growing tech companies

Discover here the ultimate guide to coding interview processes. Find out how they work and how you can optimize yourself as a developer to attract the attention of tech companies and get better results in their coding interviews.

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