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HackerRank: Just Do It

I don’t know about you, but I need to get better at algorithms.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Let me tell you a story…

This past Friday, I completed a HireVue interview along with CodeVue coding challenges that was sent to me after I applied to JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Software Engineering Program. It was quite an interesting way to conduct an interview and it was my first time experiencing such a thing.

If you’re unaware of HireVue (like I was), they basically provide an interviewing service to their clients to enable either on demand or the typical live interviews. The on demand interview, which is what I was given, can be done on the applicant’s time and has a series of pre-recorded questions for the position you apply to which you then have to record your responses to the questions. You are able to practice beforehand so you can get accustomed to the way the platform works before you actually start.

In my case, since I applied for a software engineering role, I was also given coding challenges which are also recorded and completed through the CodeVue platform. For the questions I was given, I had 35 minutes each to solve them.

At first, it felt very awkward answering the practice questions because there was no person that I was talking to, but you are instructed to record your answer in a way that makes the viewer believe you are actually having a conversation with someone. In reality, you are staring at a screen and watching yourself as you record. You can dim your view of yourself if you wish, but I chose to be a rebel and keep myself company. On a side note, I have HireVue to thank for my discovery that my face isn’t as symmetrical as I once thought, particularly when I speak.

Overall, I thought the experience was pretty cool and the benefits it provides to the companies and candidates using the service is that it makes the interview process faster, unbiased, and fair since the same questions are asked to everyone typically.

Now, finally getting to the purpose of this post, of the two algorithm problems I was given, I solved zero of them. I won’t go into detail on the questions asked being as these questions are probably asked to other candidates, but I will say they were certainly solvable. I was getting pretty close to solving the first one, but ran out of time. The second one took me a while to really wrap my head around what was being asked, so I was even further from getting to a solution. Needless to say, I’ve got some work to do.

When I got the email stating that I was approved for this HireVue interview, I began to prep myself by continuing a Udemy course, JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures Masterclass, and going back to my HackerRank account that I had disregarded for months at this point.

On another side note, I’m about a quarter of the way through the Udemy course and would recommend it to anyone that doesn’t have much experience with algorithms and also prefers JavaScript as their language for such challenges.

As far as HackerRank goes, I had only really tried the problems from their site one time before on my own and was intimidated because I wasn’t able to solve even the easy questions. I figured that I would always have time to practice, so I kind of used that as an excuse to put that on the back burner. If I had actually stuck with it and took the proper time to practice, I would have probably done a lot better in this interview and the technical interviews that I’ve had before.

Algorithms are no joke and are routinely part of the software engineering/developer interview processes, so I have made up my mind to start seriously practicing them. As with anything, getting good at solving algorithms takes time and nobody is a master from the get-go. I was once under the impression that programmers that were good at these challenges were naturally gifted and basically born with the skills, but that is nonsense. Even more senior-level engineers can have trouble with algorithms if they don’t regularly practice. There are definitely Good Will Hunting’s out there to prove my last statement wrong, but most people are not like that, certainly not me.

Not to mention, HackerRank has its own job board and hosts job conferences every here and there that can help you get hired. This is also something that I hadn’t utilized yet because my “HackerRank” is presently not a good one.

My current HackerRank is 933252 and I’ve got a whopping 2 stars for the Problem Solving badge. The next time I write about my rank, I hope to have less digits and, more importantly, more tools to ace my next technical interview.

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Amanda M Johnson

Amanda M Johnson

Full Stack Software Engineer | manda.m.johnson@gmail.com

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