Massive 4 hour technical interview

April 2, 2024
Job Search

First really big technical interview since beginning my job search.

3 interviews across 4 hours with 3 separate people.

First was system design. Struggled at the start, so defaulted to just start thinking out loud and write stuff down.

Things got better once I started drawing boxes.

I prefer boxes, because I tend to view software as discrete black boxes of magic interacting with each other. I don’t care so much as to what is in the box, but rather how the boxes interact.

I think I’ll try to go visual first next time if I can, especially at a software design phase.

Second was a Linux/Bash test. I was confident going in because it’s been a bread/butter part of the job for me.

Funnily enough when the company decided not to go forward with me they specifically cited this part of the interview.


Upon reflection there was a couple things that resulted in this being the case.

First, and most importantly (because it was in my realm of control), this was the most rusty skillset I have.

Haven’t really needed to use bash or linux since leaving my old job as of @May 8, 2023

So I was constantly in this frustrated state where common commands were kept at the tip of my tongue.

free, df, du, lsblk - I was annoyed that this was slow, because the muscle memory of using these were rusty.

Same with bash syntax, etc. I’ve done some wild, wonderful shit with bash. It was frustrating that I couldn’t go the speed I was used to.

So that was on me.

The other thing, that I’d call more of an optimization I’ll make in the future, is that I shared my screen to be specifically the terminal only.

I think it would have been better to share the entire screen.

The problem is when I think of it from the interviewers perspective, they just watched me sitting there muttering to myself, seeing nothing being done in the terminal.

If they had seen my browser going, they’d get context to what I was saying- because I was actually just flying through websearches finding the answer to the problem.

I think that would have given a much more positive impression as they would get a better understanding of how I solve problems.

So full screen going forward.

The third thing, I didn’t get the impression that the interviewer was at the top of their game.

It was a new interview format, apparently they had never run this particular challenge before.

So it meant things were off on their end, the shared tmux session wasn’t actually shared, which is why I had to share my screen in the first place.

Also I could complain about using tmux sessions for coding. It forces the interviewee to know vim, which is like cool I guess, but I dunno.

Also it beats whiteboards.

Third was the human blah blah culture stuff. Felt pretty good at that but honestly I find that side of things dead easy.

However, I did almost run into a very specific interview issue when having a talky-talk interview deep into the process.

Usually buddy is coming in pretty cold, doesn’t have their social brain activated, just context switching from some other work. But I’ve been going for hours at this point and I am in the god damn ZONE.

So I can come a bit strong because I have a big personality that can be overwhelming if you’re not ready for it.

But I managed to pull it back, find a social cadence with the manager and identify areas of curiosity to turn it into an interesting conversation.

So, it’s a bummer I didn’t get that one, as the vibe was pretty chill and I am all about that zen these days.

But this means I’ve done the full interview cycle now.

That’s huge, because now I have a benchmark for each step and I’m already refining my approach for each stage of the interview process.

So I’m feeling good about all this.