Your 2020 Guide for Surviving Interviewing as a Software Engineer

Tracy Lum
14 min readFeb 2, 2020
Photo by Kobu Agency on Unsplash

Note: I’ve written up my interview tips for 2021 here!

A few years ago, as a brand-new apprentice developer, I was doing an AMA session on campus with current students of the bootcamp I had attended when a student asked me about the job search. Without missing a beat, I said, “It sucks.” They all laughed, betraying the horror on their faces at the blunt confirmation of their worst fears. Some people in the back might have cried.

Afterward, my manager advised me to maybe not say that. But it was true then, and it’s definitely true now.

So, basically, if anyone tells you that interviewing for a new job as a software engineer is easy and fun, they’re lying.

Tech interviewing is an overall unpleasant process that makes you question even after many years of professional experience your validity as a software engineer as well as your own self-worth and intelligence.

I’ve been programming professionally for four start-up years, which is something like eight regular years (I’m making up my own multiplier). I code; therefore, I am a developer. I have built features from end-to-end. I have designed systems, completed massive migrations in a legacy codebase, and also dipped my toes into the world of ops. I have done lots of complex things and done them well. But never have I doubted my abilities more than when I was interviewing.

But it’s okay. I survived, and so will you. You’ll bomb a couple interviews,
make some good impressions. You’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process. You might learn some new stuff about coding. You’ll meet some weirdos as well as some really awesome people, and at the end, you’ll probably make more money in the process. So overall, I suppose it’s worth the suffering.

If you are looking for tips on how to survive interviewing mixed in with
some fun anecdotes, you’ve come to the right place! Because I am starting a
job in about a month and I have some stories to share.