Lessons I learned from failing a Coding Interview.

Navigating the Tech Interview Maze

Roland Sankara
3 min readDec 8, 2023
Images Source: https://cdn.techjuice.pk/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/interview.jpg

Embarking on the challenging journey of a tech interview is a rite of passage that many software developers and engineers face with lots of anxiety. Failing such an interview, as I did fresh out of a coding BootCamp, is a disheartening experience. Yet, rather than letting it deter me, I turned the setback into an opportunity for growth.

In this blog post, I’ll share the valuable lessons I learned from that initial failure and the strategies that propelled me to success in subsequent interviews.

The Interview Process:

Understanding the interview process is paramount. Initially unaware of its intricacies, I found breaking it down into two components — Behavioral and Technical — to be instrumental in navigating the challenge effectively.

Reflecting on my unsuccessful attempt, I identified key areas for improvement:

Before the Interview:

  • Be Prepared: Thoroughly prepare for the interview by reviewing the job description and gaining insight into the company’s ethos.
  • Regularly update your CV to align with the job requirements.
  • Conduct mock interviews to simulate the actual experience and identify potential pitfalls.
  • Ensure Technical Readiness: Have all necessary materials ready, including your projects, CV, and portfolio links.
  • Verify that your internet connection and devices are in optimal working condition.
  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of your tech stack; avoid embellishing your resume.

During the Interview:

  • Confident Communication: Respond with a clear sense of direction and confidence in your answers.
  • Be prepared for unexpected questions and avoid reading from prewritten scripts.
  • Maintain a professional demeanor, even if you’re familiar with the interviewer.
  • Utilize the STAR Technique: Summarize past experiences using the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
  • Be concise in your responses, avoiding unnecessary details.
  • Limit examples and edge cases unless requested to elaborate.
  • Algorithm First Approach: Prioritize understanding the problem before rushing to code.
  • Use pseudocode to outline your approach; the process is often more critical than the solution.
  • Seek clarification on instructions, saving time and ensuring accurate execution.

After the Interview:

  • Reflect and Learn: Analyze both positive and negative aspects of the interview to identify areas for improvement.
  • Consider what went well and what didn’t, providing a roadmap for future growth.
  • Express Gratitude: Send a follow-up email to express appreciation for the interviewer’s time, showcasing strong communication skills.

Expanding on the Learning Journey:

My journey toward mastering tech interviews involved not only learning from my mistakes but also leveraging valuable resources. Here are some resources that significantly contributed to my interview preparation:

1. Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell: This book provides comprehensive insights into the interview process and offers practical tips on coding questions and problem-solving.

2. LeetCode and HackerRank: Platforms like LeetCode and HackerRank offer a plethora of coding challenges that mimic real interview scenarios. Regular practice on these platforms helped me enhance my problem-solving skills.

3. InterviewBit: InterviewBit offers a structured approach to interview preparation, including a variety of topics such as coding, problem-solving, and system design.

4. Tech Interview Pro by TechLead (Patrick Shyu): Tech Interview Pro is an online course that covers various aspects of technical interviews, providing a structured learning path for aspiring software developers.

5. GitHub Repositories: Explore GitHub repositories containing interview preparation materials and solutions. Engaging with the open-source community and reviewing others’ code can broaden your perspective.

Final Remarks:

In the world of tech interviews, focus on being result-oriented rather than effort-oriented. Learn from setbacks, embrace a growth mindset, and continuously refine your approach.


These invaluable resources significantly contributed to my interview preparation:

  1. Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell
  2. LeetCode and HackerRank
  3. InterviewBit
  4. Tech Interview Pro by TechLead (Patrick Shyu)
  5. https://www.educative.io/courses/coderust-hacking-the-coding-interview
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qw5ITr3k9E

In conclusion, while tech interviews can be arduous, they are also transformative. Embrace the challenges, learn from failures, and use each experience as a stepping stone toward success in your software development career.



Roland Sankara

Fullstack Web Developer | Technical Writer | Passionate about tech mentorship