Did someone say “Rockstar developer”? Tips to bag that coveted software engineering job.

Top tips and an excellent initiative in this guest post from King’s student Sivaranjani Subramanian.

It is term 3 and the pressure of job interviews is upon us. After working as a software engineer for 3 years, I returned to academia for my Master’s degree at KCL, which makes this my round 2 of job hunt. Having been on both sides of the table, I realised how confidence and preparation can play a major role in the pursuit of a software engineering job. I remember the times when I thought recursion was an elusive dream and dynamic programming was a concept beyond my reach. And job adverts such as ‘We’re looking for a “rockstar” coder’ does little to help a talented but under-confident coder feel like they are capable of a career in the field. The truth is, software engineering interviews are a lot more wholesome than they are advertised to be and the right preparation can help you look past the veil of daunting adjectives.

Most software engineering interviews expect a strong foundation in Data Structures and Algorithms: yes, that one course you took eons ago. Depending on the company profile, there might be other expectations on Database, Operating Systems, language-specific knowledge etc. But a clear understanding of Data Structures and Algorithms shows your capability in computational thinking and thus gives the interviewers the confidence that you can learn anything else necessary.

Your role as a software engineer also comes with expectations to

(1) Ask (the right) questions

(2) Think out loud so that you can offer/get help

(3) Cover all constraints, edge cases, exceptions etc.

(4) Be able to write bug free code: yes, not type code in a fancy IDE with auto complete and syntax highlights. Write code. With pen. (commonly called Paper/Whiteboard coding).

And these skills take practice. LOTS of it. That is when I realised the power of bringing together a community of people who are on the same mission as you. You can hold each other accountable, clear doubts, motivate, hold mock interviews and alleviate fear. Having such a support group helped me during my job transition back in 2017 and I knew it will help me now.

Having found no existing support groups for the cause, I started the Software Interview Preparation Meetup in London. It is free and open for anyone who is preparing for SDE interviews. We meet every Monday at the beautiful venue at Talent Point, Bermondsey Square to discuss a DS/Algo concept and solve related problems with a side of snacks! Folks at Talent Point, the hiring consultancy firm that hosts us, also provide us with insights about what companies expect.

We have covered complexity analysis and bit manipulation so far. If you’re interested in joining us for our next meetup, RSVP at https://www.meetup.com/Software-Interview-Preparation-Group/events/262281982/

The author is a student of MSc Advanced Software Engineering with Management at King’s College London. She worked at Oracle and Adobe as a Software Engineer prior to starting at KCL.