There are tonnes of these guides and preparation questions to programmer interviews, full of lots of random questions and then challenges like “implement your own hashtable in C”.
I’ve not yet come across any company that hires like that, which is fortunate since I’ve never written a hashtable in C and I’m not sure I’d know where to start without any hints (I could do a linked list though). Occasionally you get quizzed on various peculiarities of the language you’ll be working with, but that’s all.
Instead I have compiled my own sure fire tips to get jobs. Except they’re not sure-fire because my interview success rate isn’t 100%, but it’s still pretty good.
1) Be better than the average candidate. The competition is not stiff. Generally, people who can do the job are already doing it somewhere else.
2) Display total indifference to your interviewer. If the answer to “do I want to work there?” is anything other than “not really”, you won’t create the right impression. Enthusiasm in interviews does not count in your favour. Enthusiasm is for covering letters. I suspect interviewers mistake your mixture of nerves and enthusiasm as being desperation and mistake your apathy as being confidence. Also, if you are indifferent then you are more likely to let a conversation die naturally into an awkward silence, which is great, because it’s not a conversation, it’s an interview, and it’s not your job to progress it. If you start offering irreverent chatter then sooner or later you’ll say something that they will objectively or subjectively be inclined to disqualify you on.
So, yeah, I got a job. And as the above implies, I’m not entirely enthusiastic about it right now. On the other hand, I have a 4 month gap on my CV which I’d like not to turn into 12 months. And it gives me something to do during the daytime, and it contributes to my state pension. Hmm. Possibly not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Actually, on paper the job does look pretty good, so I’m probably just displaying my usual resistance to change. I start on Monday.