Notes from a Software Developer Job Interview: I Got the Job!

success-story

#1

Hi! I’m Kate, and the Codecademy team thought you all might want to know about my experience getting a job as a Software Developer.

I am self-taught, and while I’ve been coding for the last 15 years, this is my first full-time job since having my children. I am so excited!

Here’s what the job interview process was like:

  1. The first test I took was a lengthy online javascript assessment. It covered a lot of javascript, including a lot of DOM manipulation, which I really wasn’t up on since I do that entirely with React these days. But apparently I did well enough to get a phone interview. It was multiple choice so no writing algorithms. My only advice here would be to be really strong in all general areas of OOP and DOM manipulation if applicable.
  2. The next day I had a phone interview with the hiring manager who asked me a lot about my experience, told me what projects they will be working on, asked what I’m interested in, nothing technical but a lot of background stuff. I used every question to say a little about me and my personality and background - basically I tried to never say just yes or no.
  3. The hiring manager really liked me so I came in the next day for an on-site paper test and in-person interview with the hiring manager and one of the devs. One issue with the test was that a quarter of it was in PHP and I haven’t written in PHP in a few years. Gulp. Any time I didn’t know something specific to PHP I answered “In Javascript the answer would be…”. I tried never to just say “I don’t know.”
    There were a handful of Javascript algorithms in the paper test and I found this class: https://www.udemy.com/share/10023qBUMdcFZbRXQ=/ very helpful. For every question I paused the video right away and solved it on my own then watched the solution only after I had a working answer. After I finished the class I went over and over the problems for several days until they became more automatic. At the end of the class he goes over a few different sorting algorithms and said not to worry too much, he couldn’t imagine a test asking you to do a sorting algorithm. Don’t listen to him! The morning of the test I decided to practice writing the sorting algorithms out on a piece of paper just in case and I’m glad I did because the first algorithm question was a sorting problem!! The hiring manager said it was the best answer he had seen for that question.
    There were no big-O/runtime complexity questions on the test, but I did build in a check in my sorting algorithm to see if the array was sorted early and it would exit the function and I pointed it out to him and said this would improve performance, so that definitely got me bonus points.
    There was one problem where I had to write a recursive algorithm. It wasn’t hard, but definitely know how to do that. I was all set to provide a memoize function (the class goes over that) but the recursive function didn’t require it.
  4. I don’t have a lot of professional experience but one thing I know helped was my volunteer experience. I teach a three-day HTML/CSS course at the high school every year where we build and publish a portfolio website from scratch for them to show off their programming projects. I also lead a Girls Who Code club at the middle school. These things show I am passionate about programming and made up for some of my lack of experience. So if you’re just starting out, try finding ways to volunteer!

#2

Wow, it must have taken lot of effort to get where you are! Great story, I learnt a lot just by reading this!