Here’s a list of the top five mistakes candidates make during an interview (other than, of course, being unprepared - which you won’t be). Of course, not every candidate makes all five mistakes, but what we’ve observed is that everyone makes at least one or two of those.
Mistake 1: Making assumptions
We’ve already said that in various forms but it deserves to be mentioned again. Don’t assume things that are not explicitly stated. For example, you cannot assume on your own that numbers in a problem statement are integers. They could as well be floats, or have hundreds of digits. Ask questions to make any such details clear.
Mistake 2: Staying quiet for too long
Sometimes what we see is that an interviewee is given a problem and they shut up and say nothing for a while. You know they are thinking but there is no way to know exactly what is going on in their head. The interview is conducted in part because the interviewer wants to know how you think. Because of that you have to show them that. Talk about your ideas and the challenges you face. Have a conversation.
Mistake 3: Waste too much time with obvious things
This is the flip side of the previous point. Some people just talk too much going into every small detail. Find the balance, show your thought process but do not describe the obvious things. The interviewer definitely understands them.
Mistake 4: Start coding immediately
Even if you know how to solve a problem (or think that you know) don’t rush into immediately writing the code. Before that you need to explain your idea to the interviewer and discuss the complexity. There may be several iterations before the solution design is cleared out. Make sure that you both have chosen a language to code in and then you may starting coding. Generally, use the Algorithm Design Canvas to have a structured sequence of steps.
Mistake 5: Copy-paste while you’re coding
This is not easy to do if coding on a whiteboard or a sheet of paper. However, in remote interviews where a shared doc is used we’ve seen many candidates do stuff like that. You probably know that in real life this is a bad practice. So, find ways to avoid it. Structure your code better and reuse the common logic. If you find yourself in a situation where you would like to just copy and paste something in the editor think about how to restructure your current solution.
Bonus mistake: Assuming that the interviewer is always right
Sometimes the interviewer could be wrong - after all, all of us make mistakes. And sometimes they’d deliberately disagree with you to see how you respond to criticism. No matter what the situation is, make sure you calmly explain and defend your thought process. Don’t be a pushover, and on the flip side, don’t start insulting the interviewer that they’re stupid.
Next we will mention several things that are important for interviewers and that affect how you get evaluated. Read on!