Pair Programming Interview Do-s and Don’t-s

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pair programming interview questions

In the everyday-developing world of programming, there are numerous methods and techniques by which employers are building their teams. Notwithstanding their differences, all of these techniques serve a single purpose – to produce the best professional outcome possible. 

One of the techniques employers evaluate their job candidates is by constructing professional yet challenging pair programming interview questions. 

What Is A Pair Programming Interview?

To understand the essence of a pair programming interview, let’s first learn what means pair programming means. Pair programming is the practice of two people pairing up to do coding, design, and other programming-related activities. 

Many software developing companies today value employees who manage to co-operate with their team members and develop innovative initiatives through teamwork. Therefore, many companies have adopted pair programming interviews as a tactic when hiring new professionals. 

A pair programming interview is a method that the interviewers use to test their job applicants’ coding and programming knowledge and skills. Every company has some freedom in designing its pair programming interview questions. However, the interviews typically take about 45 minutes. 

During the interview, a candidate is given a coding problem that he has to solve and communicate to the interviewer. Again, the interview might have a different focus depending on your company. For example, you may be asked to write a couple of shortcodes as a candidate. On the other hand, there might be companies that may include more challenging pair programming interview questions. 

Whichever one is your case, we have some tips and helpful resources for you to prepare!

How To Prepare For A Pair Programming Interview?

Like any other type of job interview, you want to be well-prepared to feel confident and be able to please the interviewer. Hence, you want to make sure you have all the tips listed below in your mind. 

Practice Coding

The most important aspects the interviewers are interested in are your coding skills. You want to be knowledgeable and experienced in the field. 

You can use WildLearner, which offers multiple programming language courses and coding playgrounds for free. 

For starting your free learning and practicing journey, you can sign up here and register through existing Facebook, Google, or Apple accounts.

To practice for a pair programming interview, you can try the practice tests below and assess your current level of skills.

Practice test 1

Practice test 2

Show Your Work

Once you get your coding problem, remember that your interviewers want to assess your approach towards the problem more than the answer you get. If you manage to solve the problem accurately, that would be amazing. However, if you fail to demonstrate the steps in which you have come up with the solution, your teamwork might fail. 

Thus, always show your work in detail. Ensure that you have clear and well-thought justifications for all the steps that have brought you to your final answer. 

Demonstrate Critical Thinking

Although there is only one solution to each problem, there might be multiple ways to approach the problem and solve it. Therefore, you must demonstrate critical thinking while dealing with the problem. Consider multiple perspectives when approaching it and build your arguments reasonably and logically. 

If you notice that the interviewer does not seem to be pleased with the way you explain your solution, do not panic. Simply try to find an alternative way in which you could express your idea, and make sure you maintain a friendly tone and attitude throughout the entire interview.

Ask Questions

Remember that this is a pair programming interview. Hence, not only are you the answerer, but you can also ask questions and use the answers you get to build and develop your code. Do not hesitate to communicate with the interviewer. They want to see you are curious and interested in the topic.  

Demonstrate A Team-Oriented Mindset 

Another significant aspect the interviewers focus on is how well you interact and communicate as a team member. In the case of a pair programming interview, the interviewer would be your teammate. However, you should keep in mind that they will be assessing the big picture of the interview. 

At the end of the day, the interviewers are looking for a candidate that would contribute to producing the best outcome for the team. Having that said, you should ensure you are a good listener who is open to suggestions and support. Also, demonstrate that you are result-driven and easy to communicate with. 

What Should You NOT Do During Your Pair Programming Interview?

Alongside the tips that you should consider, there are common mistakes that many interviewees make during the interview. Below are a couple of them you should avoid. 

Do Not Jump Up With Your Solution 

Coding is mysterious, and sometimes the answer that you are hundred percent sure about might not be the correct answer eventually. If this could be a good lesson to learn during practice tests, this can be a terrible mistake during the interview. To avoid this, take your time to think about the problem. Develop an in-depth solution in your mind and have well-explained algorithms that clearly show your work. These demonstrate your professionality and maturity.

Do Not Concentrate On A Single Path

Naturally, you may get anxious during the interview and feel nervous when solving the problem. This may bother you from considering all the possible approaches you would have considered during the practice tests. However, when you notice you are spending too much time approaching the problem in one way, shift your focus and approach the problem from a different perspective. 

Do Not Overestimate Or Underestimate Yourself

Whatever your skill level is, try to display an objective assessment of your potential. If you think too highly of your skills, you may be highly discouraged after not getting the results you wanted. On the other hand, underestimating yourself would cause you to feel insecure and unprepared. Take the time to prepare diligently, and be honest about what you can truly achieve. 

Final Thoughts 

A pair programming interview is a technique the interviewers use to assess their job candidates’ coding and programming skills. The interviewer mainly designs pair programming interview questions and the format. The candidates should demonstrate critical thinking and a collaborative approach by communicating clearly about their solutions.