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S1E8: How to rock your technical interview with Parker Phinney

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In today's episode of the Learn to Code With Me podcast I speak to Parker Phinney. Parker is the founder of Interview Cake, a study tool designed to help software engineers prepare for coding interviews.

Parker talks about his journey from software engineer to interview coach. He began by helping a friend prepare for a tech interview. This experience showed Parker what was missing in the standard interview preparation.

In our conversation, Parker explains the basic elements found in most coding interviews. He also details many of the common mistakes people make when interviewing for a coding job. He stresses the importance of learning how to derive answers from first principles. Parker believes anyone can master the coding interview with the right practice.

Parker has a special discount for LTCWM listeners where you can get a 20% discount at Interview Cake. Click here to check it out.

Key takeaways:

  • The coding interview is not something that comes easy to most people, but it’s learnable. It’s not always about skill or smarts, but about the right kind of practice.
  • The best interview practice you can get is through actual interviews. The more you do, the more comfortable you will be. Rejections become part of the learning process as you continue to improve.
  • Practicing out loud is important. Have someone conduct a mock interview so you can get familiar with the process.
  • Prepare for the classic Google style interview, since this is the type you are most likely to see.
  • Completing 30 real practice questions will provide a solid foundation before you start interviewing.
  • Write your code on a piece of paper or whiteboard to mimic the interview format. You don’t want the unfamiliar medium to trip you up during the process.
  • Focus on understanding how you derive an answer from first principles. You will be more resilient if you develop the ability to answer problems you haven’t see before.
  • Sprint through a draft of the code and mark the places that need more attention. After you run a practice problem, review the parts that were most difficult. Writing down the core insights for each problem with help you see where your pitfalls are.

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