Some minor tricks I often see people not use when interviewing for a job.

Review stdlib

If you’re lucky, you’ll be asked questions or given code exercises that are closely related to what you do day-to-day. However, it’s also pretty common to give a candidate a task that is a off the beaten path.

Consider the following example from Project Euler:

# In the following 6 digit number:
#  283910
# 91 is the greatest sequence of 2 digits.

#  Complete the solution so that it returns the largest five digit number
#  found within within the number given.. The number will be passed in as
#  a string of only digits. It should return a five digit integer. The
#  number passed may be as large as 1000 digits.

Daily saw sharpening

Be prepared to share how you keep in touch with your technologies and craft. I’m assuming you keep up with some news aggregators / mailing lists / video podcasts.

In Ruby-land, this could be Ruby Weekly, RubyTapas etc. In general terms, this could be blogs of influential programmers (Bob Martin, Martin Fowler etc).

Think ahead

I usually like to ask a question like: ‘If you could master one thing professionally in the next 2 years, what would it be?’.

This often tells me quite a bit about you:

  • Do you know where the technology landscape is headed?
  • Are you aware of the various technologies emerging around you?
  • Are you planning of altering your profile a bit in the coming years?
  • If you’re experimenting with different stuff, it means you have a desire to learn, which counts for a lot.
  • If you’re constantly looking at new technology, you’re less likely to be rigidly using your favourite (and only) one in situations that are not a good fit for it.
  • If you say something really popular, and cannot tell why you want to master it, that means the answer was given without much thought, or you’re a serial hype train jumper.