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Collaborative Coding: Preparing for the Technical Interview

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Technical interviews are a necessary step in your path to becoming a software engineer. Whether you’re applying to coding school, or preparing for your first (or fifteenth) job interview, you’ll likely encounter a coding challenge, technical interview, whiteboarding session, or maybe all of the above.

Is it stressful? It can be. But take heart, there are lots of tools and tips to help make this process less intimidating. Practice, of course, is essential. To get you started, we broke down our own admissions technical interview to help along your way.

What is collaborative coding?

Collaborative coding is just another name for pair programming. But what’s pair programming?

Pair programming is a technique developed in the agile team framework that pairs two programmers together on one workstation. In this collaborative exercise, one person drives and writes the code, while the navigator or observer reviews each line and provides additional problem-solving logic and perspective. In this exercise, both partners will switch roles and have the opportunity to share and adapt their partner’s ideas, logic, and style. It’s an important process for all engineers – and engineering students – to experience and practice.

The technical interview at Hackbright is a remote pair programming exercise via CoderPad that you do with a member of our education team. You’ll have a shared screen, be presented with a problem, and then go through it over the phone with your interviewer. You drive, and your interviewer serves as the navigator or observer.

Why do we do it?

We do near-daily pair programming exercises as part of our curriculum. It’s a great learning tool, and an important step to understanding how to work on an engineering team.

The technical interview helps us evaluate your experience and understanding of core programming concepts. It’s an opportunity for you to work your way through a coding challenge, ask us any questions you may have during the exercise, and experience collaborative coding. In your admissions technical interview, we’ll learn how you work through a problem, debug your code, and what your thought process is like. It’s not necessarily a test that you have to ace on the first try. In fact, working your way through a bug or two to find the right algorithm is perfectly normal, and a great way for us to understand how you like to problem-solve.

While we focus on Python and complementary languages in our curriculum, you can choose whichever language you feel most comfortable in for your technical interview – JavaScript, Ruby, PHP, etc.

Our technical interviews are meant to be an introduction – both for you to see how we do things at Hackbright, and for our team to get to know you. It’s not uncommon to fail and try again, or even to start with Prep before approaching the Full-Time or Part-Time programs.

What happens during the interview?

Interested in learning how to prepare for your technical interview? Want to know more about our process or what happens? Watch a sample collaborative coding technical interview exercise, and get advice on preparing with Director of Education, Meggie Mahnken:


Interested in learning to code? Check out our upcoming Prep Course and our immersive 12-week full-time or 24-week part-time Software Engineering Programs

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