The Coding Interview Questions Asked By All 10 Companies I Applied For

The Coding Interview Questions Asked By All 10 Companies I Applied For

Recently I went through a total of ten job interviews in the span of two weeks, that was a wild ride that was also quite fascinating to me. If you ever need a job: Go chat up two recruiters at the same time, and prepare to find a new level of exhaustion that you never knew existed.

In this post, I want to summarize the questions I was asked in all of them, at least in a variation.

Some variation of “why us?”

I found that the more faceless a company is the higher value they put on personal investment into the mission. That makes it quite hard to apply for a job where you are clearly just working to earn money because they simply don’t have a mission. How would you possibly be invested into a consulting gig that hires out workers to municipal IT projects or an insurance company that needs help with their billing system?

I have found two good answers to this question, one for each end of the scale:

  • “I always found X interesting” where X is the main product they sell in companies where IT is not the main business.
  • “I looked at your tech stack and see just the right mix of technology I know and would love to learn about” with any of the faceless companies.

I ended up signing a contract with a company that I’m actually interested in — yeay me — and I also used a variation of that first line. I don’t want to give away too much about the actual company, but I have an honest interest in their field aside from IT and that was obviously a good way to navigate this question.

Describe how your typical work day looks like

If they don’t ask this question it’s a great one for you to ask them back whenever you are clueless about actual questions to ask.

The key point here is to find a way to talk about the tech, workflows without going too much into detail and telling them where under your keyboard you hide the passwords.

What the employer wants to test with this question is manifold:

  • Do you take pride and responsibility in your work?
  • Do you communicate, plan, structure or are you merely a code monkey who does as told?
  • Do you run tests, monitoring, how is your routine for reading emails and answering tests?

You can touch on all those points in this question so it’s probably a good idea to prepare a couple key points and maybe turn this into a little rehearsed speech.

What technology / skill is your favorite?

Since I am in C# I have a get-out-of-jail-free-card on this question: LINQ. It’s just a great technology that is super helpful and by geeking out a bit you can immediately transport an interest in technology, a sort-of-advanced skill that is still easy to learn — it’s playing the game on easy mode.

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But be prepared for this question, maybe even the other way around even though that did not happen to me. Better not tell them what you really think about JavaScript if you apply for a front-end position.

Why are you quitting? (This is a trick question)

This is much less of a question aimed to see if you can talk — it’s meant to see if you can shut up.

Nobody quits a job because they like it so much, but if you spend half an hour ranting about your current employer you might as well get up and leave because they won’t be hiring you.

I navigated this question with a somewhat subdued “not a big fan of recent changes after the company was sold” and that is just about all you need to tell.

The best you can do is to test one or two of your current pain points here, for example overtime and weekend work are something that I wanted to get rid of so I mentioned that and at the same time used the chance to bring across that I’m the sole maintainer of my current system for some added “responsibility, duh”.

What is your plan in life? (Do you even have one?)

The company I hired on with now had the biggest problem with me living an hour away, but they all asked me in some way where I see myself in five years. Not directly because everyone hates that question by now, but they are still interested in hearing how you plan to develop.

The great part about programming is that you can answer “well, I love programming so if I keep doing that until my retirement that’s fine with me” — other jobs have it worse in that regard.

Depending on the industry it may be good to touch on your private life briefly, telling them how you plan to build a house, grow three children and two trees and go through a harrowing divorce at age 40 to go live in your car. That will give them a good few years of you as a useful employee before the scale tips and you become a liability, this way everyone knows what they sign up for.

Summary: Job interviews all have some common denominators

I am quite happy to have this phase of my life behind me for the time being, I doubt anyone likes job interviews but they are a necessary evil of course.

I hope you found this post interesting to read through, I have some more coding related topics you might like:

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