Coding interviews are designed to be a challenge. I should know — I failed, then passed Meta’s notoriously difficult coding interview, and went on to grow into a senior engineering manager there.
If you haven’t done one for a while, or ever, it’s normal to get stuck while solving a coding problem. From staying calm under pressure to breaking down complex problems into manageable steps, here are 5 tried-and-true ways to unblock yourself during a live technical interview:
If you don’t know how to address a coding problem immediately, first make sure you understand it. Try to verbalize the problem’s input, the expected output, and any known constraints to verify that you have grasped what is being asked.
Many coding problems are ambiguous on purpose. If something is unclear, ask questions. Make sure your assumptions are correct.
Divide the problem into smaller steps that build on each other. Consider the order of execution and tackle each part systematically.
Talk through your thought process. Speaking aloud can help you organize your thoughts and identify a solution.
Work through examples and test with real data. If the interviewer provides specific examples, be sure to use those!
Interviewers are not only evaluating your final solution but also your problem-solving skills, adaptability, and how you handle challenges in real time. By using these 5 tactics during the interview, you can increase your chances of finding a solution and making a positive impression.
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What other tactics do you use to get #unstuck? Let me know in the comments.
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