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Projects & Mock Interviews

Series:Acing The Interview

Hello and welcome to the fourth post in my series, Acing the Interview! If you've already been following along, welcome back! Throughout this series, we'll be discussing topics like behavioral and technical questions, as well as design patterns, algorithms, and data structures. We will also cover areas such as mock interviews, how to discuss your projects, and what to expect during the day of the interview. If you are just joining us, I would highly recommend going back to the first post of this series and reading through it all to be prepared for your interview.

Today, we'll continue on to the next topic of discussion, once again summarizing some examples from Cracking the Coding Interview 1 with some of my own experiences and insight. If you have the time though, I would highly recommend purchasing the book and reading it through to be prepared for your next interview. We have a lot of information to cover so let's get started with our next topics: Projects & Mock Interviews.

"One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation."     -Arthur Ashe

Your Projects

One of the best ways for an interviewer to understand your capabilities, work-ethic, and how you handle difficult situations is actually through something you should be very familiar with; your own projects!

During this part of the interview, you will be able to dive deep into the work that you've done in the past, as well as go into any details about difficulties during the project and how you overcame those issues. Utilizing the Interview Prep Grid from my Behavioral Questions post, you can capture some critical information about your past projects to discuss with the interviewer. To prepare to discuss your past projects, pick 2 or three before the interview with the following criteria:

  1. Those projects did more than just teach you something. They had challenging functionality that pushed the boundaries of your skill set
  2. Where the project had challenging functionality, you played a central role in completing that functionality
  3. You are able to talk about those projects at a technical level
  4. The projects are different enough where you won't be repeating topics when discussing them

When discussing those projects during the interview, cover topics like:

  • challenges you and the team faced,
  • technical discussions,
  • mistakes that were made,
  • what you learned from those mistakes,
  • how you might do things differently if given the opportunity,
  • reasoning behind the choices of technologies,
  • and tradeoffs between those technologies and others that were under consideration.

It's important to be prepared for any follow-up questions that the interviewer may have. It will be difficult to prepare for this, as nobody knows what the interviewer will think of as you're discussing the project, but spend some time when reviewing your projects to think of topics that the project didn't cover. This might include things like the scalability of the project, how you would take it from on-prem to cloud-based (or vice-versa), SCM/Project Management tools used, architecture of the project, etc. The more you can talk in depth about your projects and think outside the box to answer the interviewer's questions, the better your skills will be conveyed to the interviewer and the company. One possible way to be better prepared for these questions would be to participate in the Mock Interview process.

Mock Interviews

These types of interviews are a form of training practice to prepare you for the real interview. They simulate the real thing, with a real individual, and actual questions covering the topics from this series. These include behavioral questions, technical questions, data structures, algorithms, design patterns, and your past projects.

Mock Interview Resources:

  • Pramp: My resource of choice for Mock Interviews. This is a free service where you're matched up with interviewers based on your choice of programming language and can have a one-on-one video session with that individual. You alternate as both the interviewer and the interviewee, allowing you to practice your interview and get a deeper understanding of the process. You can take as many interviews as you would like and can customize each session to focus on a particular area troubling you.
  • InterviewBit: This is another great and free resource for practicing your interviews. In a similar fashion to Pramp, you're paired with a peer interviewer in an interactive one-on-one session. This interview process is anonymous though with a collaborative real-time code editor and audio calling. You also can have as many mock interviews as you like, alternating between the interviewer and interviewee.
  • Interview Buddy: This is a paid service, with different tiers depending on how many interviews you would like to do. With this resource, you are matched with an industry expert, averaging 9+ years of experience in interviewing. You also receive an interview scorecard and a recording of the interview so you can go back and better understand what went well and what you can improve upon.
  • Another paid service, starting at $150, where you're paired in an anonymous technical interview with senior engineers from FAANG or other top companies. At the end of the interview, you get detailed, actionable feedback discussing exactly what you need to improve upon to get that dream job

Benefits of a mock interview:

  • Helps increase your confidence, while reducing your stress and anxiety
  • Gives you invaluable feedback on your responses to their questions in a low-stress environment
  • Provides you with the opportunity to improve upon your behavioral-based interview questions and project details before the real interview
  • The chance for extra practice on technical questions

Be careful with these mock interviewers though. They can become time-consuming and contribute to interview fatigue. It's also difficult to determine if you have a trained interviewer, with the same interview techniques that you might experience during the real thing. If you start to do several of them and try to rehearse your answers as well, the interviewers during the real interview will likely be able to see right through you when you don't go into the necessary details to answer their questions. With that in mind though, these mock interviews are still an important tool to utilize in preparation for your interview. Just be sure to limit it to only a few to avoid being this guy during your interview

If you read my prior blog post in the series, Finding Your First Mentor, you should have a mentor, or mentors, by now. A mentor is another great resource to help you prepare for an interview! They likely have gone through a few of these interviews themselves and could help guide you in some areas of study that they came across, the general interview process, as well as do some mock interviews with you. If you have not been able to read that post yet, I would highly recommend going back to it and getting started on your journey of finding a mentor. Not only would they have knowledge on the interviews that they went through, but they will also be a great fountain of support as you prepare for your interview and wait for the outcome of the process.

If you enjoyed the post, be sure to follow me so that you don't miss the last post of this series, where I go into detail on what to expect the day of so that you too can Ace the Interview! The links to my social media accounts can be found on my contact page. Please feel free to share any of your own experiences with the interviewing process, general questions and comments, or even other topics you would like me to write about. If this series of posts help you land that dream job of yours, be sure to let me know as well. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!👋


  1. McDowell, G. L. (2021). Cracking the coding interview: 189 programming questions and solutions. CareerCup, LLC.