Getting Ready for a Technical Interview? Try These Practice Qs from Our Friends at Hackbright

In the best of times, it’s normal to feel nervous about applying for a job, especially a technical one that demands a demonstration of skill.

Now, of course, it’s a whole new level of weird and worry. Totally remote interviews. Having a team lunch on Zoom instead of an onsite catered lunch. Attempting to gauge culture fit through a screen. One upside - no more whiteboard - which admittedly makes us really happy.

Regardless of the interview setup, you’re still going to have to crush it in your technical interview. Give these amazing questions from Hackbright a shot to test your skills (oh, and check out their advice for job seekers too!).

TEST YOUR SKILLS

Before you start: try these answers out using CoderPad’s sandbox here. Or find a friend and practice interviewing each other with CoderPad’s free candidate account available here.

Leveret Lunch Overview

“Leveret” is a fancy word for a baby bunny (okay, technically, a leveret is a young hare but baby bunny sounds better) and like all baby animals, they have huge appetites.

Leveret Munch (Easier)

Baby Leveret is hopping down the garden trail in a quest to devour as many carrots as she can. Each plot along the trail contains a certain number of carrots. We can represent the number of carrots in each plot as an element in an array of integers, where each number represents a plot:

        [4, 5, 3, 5]

Baby leverets can only eat a total of 10 carrots, and not any more. Given an array formatted like the one above, a baby leveret could eat 2 full plots of carrots. Here’s an explanation.

        # Baby Leveret starts at the garden gate

        [4, 5, 3, 5]    4 carrots eaten, 1 plot consumed
         🐰

        [4, 5, 3, 5]    9 carrots eaten, 2 plots consumed
           🐰

        [4, 5, 3, 5]    12 carrots eaten - too many! Stop here.
              🐰

The Challenge

Write a function that takes in an array of integers that represent the number of carrots in each plot in a garden trail. This function should return the number of plots a baby leveret will eat, only counting plots that can be eaten in completion. (A leveret can’t eat part of a plot.)

Question Two: Leveret Lunch (Medium)

Our hero, Baby Leveret, starts in the middle of a garden and eats carrots until she falls asleep. The garden is a grid that is nrows tall and ncols wide. Each plot in the garden has a particular number of carrots in it.

Baby Leveret will dig a little tunnel all the way to the center of the garden, where she’ll start her feast. If the center of the garden consists of more than one plot, she’ll choose the plot with the most number of carrots to start (assume there will never be a tie between multiple plots) and eat allllll the carrots there.

Then, she’ll look around at neighboring plot to sniff out the one with the most carrots. She always sniffs the plot to her west first (left), then north (up), then east (right), then south (down); if there are two or more plots that tie for the highest number of carrots, she’ll hop to the first plot her nose encountered (that is, the first plot she encountered in west-north-east-south order). Once there are no neighboring cells with carrots, she falls asleep for a well-deserved nap. For example, consider this garden:

         A   B   C   D   E   F   G
       +---------------------------+
    1  | 2 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 2 | 2 | 3 |
       |---+---+---+---+---+---+---|
    2  | 2 | 3 | 0 | 4 | 0 | 3 | 0 |
       |---+---+---+---+---+---+---|
    3  | 1 | 7 | 0 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 3 |
       |---+---+---+---+---+---+---|
    4  | 9 | 3 | 0 | 4 | 2 | 0 | 3 |
       +---------------------------+

There are two center cells, at D2 and D3. The cell at D2 has more carrots (4 versus 2), so Baby Leveret starts there and eats the 4 carrots at D2.

She then looks at the neighbors in WNES order and finds the highest carrot count is at D1. She eats the 4 carrots there.

Looking WNES, she finds there are more carrots at E1, and moves there and eats the 2 carrots there.

Looking WNES, she sees more carrots at F1, and moves there and eats the 2 carrots there.

Looking WNES, she sees 3 carrots both east and south — but since there’s a tie, she goes in WNES order, so heads east and eats the 3 carrots at G1.

Looking WNES, she finds only neighbors with 0 carrots, so she takes her post-lunch nap.

In total, she’s eaten 4 + 4 + 2 + 2 + 3 = 15 carrots.

The Challenge

Write a function that takes in a 2-dimensional array that represents garden plots and the amount of carrots each plot contains. This function should return the number of carrots eaten by Baby Leveret.

The Advice - Thinking Specifically About Remote Interviews

Make ‘em feel special. You’ve heard this before but you have to customize your resume and personal pitch for every job application you develop. Employers want to understand why you want to work for them specifically. It takes time but it’s not difficult: review the engineering blog, company website, and company values. Doing the research upfront will pay off in the interview! You want to know enough that the interviewing panel says later, “Wow, you could really tell they did their homework.”

And remember the landscape today - now that everyone’s remote, hiring managers will be interested in how collaborative and scalable you can be in a virtual environment. Playing that up specifically can help you stand out - which can be challenging to do when someone’s doing seven technical hiring interviews in a single day.

Think through the logistics. A virtual interview process requires a degree of upfront preparation. Five minutes before the interview starts isn’t the time to first test your mic and evaluate your lighting. Check out what’s behind you on screen - what will your interviewer see? You want to stand out for your skills - not technology fails.

Be human. Companies aren’t looking for automatons - they’re looking for real people. And real people have passion and interests. Stand out by sharing something you’re passionate about - and how you integrated it into your work. Articulated in a crisp and straightforward way, a few powerful examples can reinforce the impression you’re hoping to leave with your interviewers. And come equipped with real, thoughtful questions.

In this environment, differentiating and being memorable is harder but more necessary than ever before. Recruiters and hiring managers are interviewing several people every day - now over Zoom. More people are out on the job market, which means fiercer competition. And recruiting processes will likely take longer as a result. Practice your questions and your examples ahead of time with a friend or even by yourself. Saying your key points out loud at least once or twice helps you feel more confident.

So how did the test questions go? Let us know!