So many failures at real life software engineer interview questions

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not great at data structure & algorithms quizzes. Maybe I never truly mastered the mathematical aspects of computer science. Luckily there are companies out there that don’t interview on the computer science stuff — they’re looking for people with practical experience and those are the interviews that I excel at.

There are lots of people like me who just don’t do well at the brain-teaser interview. These interviews take real practice and review of computer science topics that, candidly, I never enjoyed in school and I don’t expect I’ll ever enjoy them in the future either.

So, here’s a log of interview questions I’ve failed miserably at during interviews. Companies ask these types of questions to weed out candidates and, well, I can save them a lot of time by not even attempting to apply for positions and companies that use these types of questions.

System design: how would you track who are interested in a topic (i.e. World Cup 2018) and subsequently notify them of updates of new content for that topic?

A variation of Queens on a chess board.

Heaps: Find the running Median – this was a question I got during a timed 45-minute interview at Hooli (not the company’s real name). Let me just say even if I had 2 hours I would not have figured out the solution to this because until I saw the solution I actually didn’t know what heaps are. I’ve never used a heap professionally.

Found myself in a pickle. Implement python pickle – another Hooli interview question. This one I got the concept right but I did not have enough time to implement the code.

Friend of friend finder – the final Hooli onsite interview question was very practical.

O(h) my goodness. Given an array, calculate the product of a number at index and all of the the numbers in the array excluding itself. – Was asked to produce an O(n) solution live-coding over the phone session. The interviewer was a former Hooli employee so this is just the type of question they ask.

Point in a plane – I was asked some variation of those in a Hooli interview. 

What’s behind door #3? It’s the Monty Hall problem! I was asked to explain the probability behind the Monty Hall problem. (Always pick the 2nd door.) What kind of phone screen question is that?  I was asked to explain the probability behind the Monty Hall problem. (Always pick the 2nd door.) What kind of phone screen question is that?

Bonehead error: FizzBuzz.  I was asked to program FizzBuzz during a phone screen and brain-farted big time. Most likely because it was over the phone. Anyway, total face-palm mistake on that but the company was relatively non-descript and I can’t even remember what they were trying to solve.

Need to increase, not redux, my JS knowledge. Implement a simplified version of redux. I thought I nailed this interview but I think my JavaScript coding style blocked me from moving on in the process.

Cache me outside. What are the possible cache-controls directives in an HTTP response? (cache with etag, no-cache, private). Whenever an interviewer asks you about cache-control they’re always looking for you to mention something about the “ETag”.



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