I know many different programming languages. How do Best programming for jobs choose which one to use during my interview? Don’t get me wrong—I advocate learning and writing code in many programming languages.
But when it comes time for programming interview preparation, I feel it’s important to choose one language to focus your prep on and get to know it very well. While many interviewers don’t mind you writing pseudocode during the early planning step of answering a question, others I’ve come across really want you to show you can write compilable code without an IDE. Not only that, but that you appear very comfortable writing real code. How to pick Now back to our polyglot student—how might they approach choosing just one? Think—what language would you immediately reach for? Do you start your experimentation with ipython, or irb?
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Do you pop open Eclipse and write some Java? Make sure it’s widely readable Ideally you’re most comfortable with a language that your interviewer has used before, but at the very least it should be readable by a wide audience. Scheme and the ilk are potentially appropriate when the company uses them. Bias towards the one they use Some advice from the book Programming Interviews Exposed—all things equal, bias slightly towards the language your target companies use if it’s one of the ones you’re most comfortable with. For example, if the company you’re applying to is primarily a Ruby shop and you’re fairly confident with your Ruby, go with that. If you’re applying to a low-level hardware manufacturer working mostly in C and Assembly, go with that. Once you’ve picked your language Excellent, so you’ve chosen a language to focus your preparation on and to use for your interviews.
Practice in your language When you are doing practice problems, try to always write with the language you’ll be using in your interview. The couple of weeks leading up to your interview, when you’re doing personal projects and hacking on things for fun, try to use that language as well. Quickly defining a comparator to sort an array. Know the best practices Especially if the company you’re applying to has experience with your language, it can be helpful to brush up on the best practices for your language.
Sometimes you’ll get trivia questions, or be asked about some language-specific patterns. If you’re going with Java, for example, and applying to Amazon, where Java is heavily used, consider reading through some of the best practices material. The Ruby Programming Language which cover language-specific best coding practices. What do you like about language X? What don’t you like about it?