Hack Reactor Interview

Had my technical interview with Hack Reactor!

I think it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my entire (recallable) life. The interview itself, in retrospect, was not that nerve inducing, but I was so anxious/nervous that I gave myself a stomachache from 20 minutes before the interview until about three hours later. Unpleasant feeling. It was my own fault, of course, but it made me realize how much I wanted to be accepted. Even when it came to college acceptances, I was pretty confident I would get into at least one good school, and didn’t have one top pick that I was desperate to get into. At Hack Reactor, I psyched myself out before the interview even started, which definitely affected my performance. I also definitely spent way too much time beforehand studying things that were much more advanced that never got covered in the actual interview–like regular expressions, recursion, etc. I don’t regret studying those things, as I enjoyed it, and would want to study them anyway, but I think I could have prepared for this technical interview a little bit better had I not spent so much time on those concepts. I’m still kicking myself for not getting things as quickly as I normally would, and making some stupid mistakes. That was my first real experience coding under pressure–many more to come I hope? :)

As for the interview itself: My interviewer was a bit late due to catching a train up, which was fine, but then she walked in a bit frazzled and hurried, and then that made me feel frazzled and hurried too, instead of calm, which is what I so desperately wanted to feel at the time. The interview process has since changed, and is now just the preliminary admissions challenge, the coding project, and then one technical interview… so the main majority of your acceptance ends up resting on the interview. My interviewer started out by leading me to an open computer on which she opened up Sublime. She then asked me to describe my background, where I was coming from, etc. This part was easy for me–I could probably talk for 20 minutes about my path and what I’ve experienced and what made me decide I wanted to be a full stack developer (maybe another blog post some other time). I gave her the condensed 5 minute version though, but I’m pretty sure I conveyed the very true fact that I am 100% dedicated to this career goal, I very wholeheartedly would love to do Hack Reactor, and I am willing to jump all sorts of loops and obstacles and difficulties to reach my goals.

The technical part was actually fun, though I was also nervous and my brain betrayed me a few times, so it could have been more fun. However, my interviewer was very patient and walked me through parts I didn’t understand. She gave me hints towards my answer, without ever giving me the direct answer, which I really liked. If I hadn’t felt so much pressure from her watching me, I probably would have just sat and chilled there and just more slowly thought things out before typing, but oh well. I tried to talk out loud too so she could understand my thinking process, but the talking out loud skill is something I have to work on. I usually take a minute to think, and then talk. Instead of just think-talking, which is what I ended up doing. -_-

In any case, the questions themselves weren’t all that complex–I’ve written much more complex algorithms. They were interesting, required a neat way of thinking, and mostly required writing functions/callbacks. I completely understand how they work, even though my versions were usually a bit more complex than they needed to be. It was pretty awesome to see my interviewer turn 4 lines of code into…one. Coderbyte ended up being wholeheartedly useless, but I guess it would have been useful had I had a first interview.

After that, she let me ask her any questions I had, and so I asked her a few, but to be honest there is so much online literature out there in blogs and the HR site that any questions I did have, I’d already done a good bit of research on. I enjoyed speaking to her, but for some weird reason I just kept getting the impression that this part was rushed and like it must be a pretty automatic process for her and she just needed to be somewhere else. Maybe that was all in my head–she was very nice, but she just spoke quickly/hurriedly. In any case, by the end of it I can’t say I really have a clear idea of how the interview went. She basically said that in terms of personality fit, I have no issues. In terms of technical, I think she said I did fine, but I guess I won’t know for sure until I hear back!

I will be checking my email a lot for the next week…

  2 comments for “Hack Reactor Interview

  1. Chris
    May 22, 2014 at 6:32 PM

    Thanks for the insightful post! I have my technical interview in about a month, and I was curious why you said Coder byte was useless? Do you happen to have any recommendations for what I should do to prepare? Any help would be much appreciated!

    • amira
      June 7, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      Hi Chris!
      Coderbyte is great just to make sure you understand how to work through a problem, and to familiarize yourself with Javascript. I’d definitely recommend practicing an interview with a technical friend who can ask you to reproduce some underscore functions, so you learn to walk through talking to someone about your thought process, and to practice programming on the spot. Most of my interview was reproducing underscore functions, but it required a good understanding of closures, scope, and callbacks, so definitely look into that. Let me know if you want any other advice :)

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