Post by Nimit Maru
One of the toughest and most rewarding parts of running Fullstack Academy is interviewing prospective students. We are on a mission to build an education movement with excellence in experience and outcomes. To achieve this, we are searching for the best and brightest students from around the world–students who are dedicated to joining the ranks of the master-builders of the world. To find these students, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our admissions process. One of the most common questions we get from prospective students is, what can I expect in the 2nd round in-person interview? How can I do well and how can I prepare?
Well, after having spent hundreds and hundreds of hours interviewing prospective students, we have developed a methodology of conducting admission interviews that is both effective at uncovering great students and productive for candidates. Are you one of our prospective students? Then listen up, here are the insider notes on how to ace the Fullstack Academy interview.
If you end up at Fullstack, we’ll be spending a lot of time together and so you can also consider this a trial run. Pretend I’m at your desk and we’re working together on an interesting piece of code. You don’t need to be nervous that you’ll say the wrong thing or that you won’t get it right the first time. We’re looking for students who can think critically, who are passionate about doing this and students who would fit in well with the Fullstack community.
Every 2nd round interview at Fullstack can be divided into three parts: the introduction, pair-programming and the Q&A. Let’s talk about each one.
We’ll start first by simply having a conversation. This is where we get to know you as a person, and you get to know me and also Fullstack. I want to understand your background and know why you want to be a programmer. Studying at Fullstack is a serious commitment for you, both in time and cost, so we want to be sure you are ready. Admitting you as a student is also us making a commitment to you and your success. We take that promise seriously.
Doing well in this portion of the interview involves three simple tips:
- Be prepared. It’s important to be mentally and physically prepared for the interview. Find a quiet area with a reliable internet connection. Have headphones and make sure Skype is setup and working properly on your computer.
- Be yourself. We love the fact that we have students from all backgrounds come to Fullstack and so don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be friendly and open. No matter what the outcome of the interview, I promise you you’ll learn something!
- Demonstrate passion. When asked about why you want to be a developer, use that opportunity to show us what you’ve been working on and what you’ve recently discovered. I love checking out links or snippets of code you’ve written, so keep some examples ready if you have them. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be anything amazing yet (that’s why you’re applying to Fullstack!).
Once we’ve spent time conversing with one another, we’ll move on to programming together. Pair programming is a time for you to show us that you can think critically and that you understand the fundamentals of programming. We’ll tackle two or more problems together on a shared coding editor. Here are some tips while programming:
- Practice: Make sure you spend some time preparing technically for the interview. We’ll provide you with some preparation materials, so use those. Remember, the best preparation is practice!
- Stay cool: Probably the most important tip here is to keep your cool and do your best. We are not always expecting you to know all the answers, so it’s ok when you don’t know something. It can be challenging to code in front of an interviewer when you’re used to working on your own. If you know you’ll have trouble with this, it is not a bad idea to practice first with a friend!
- Don’t give up easily: Learning to code is a path filled with wow moments and moments of frustration. We want to see that you are patient yet persistent when facing challenges.
- Plan first, Code second: Don’t jump to coding directly, plan out your approach first. This will help you debug your approach with us, and will increase your success while coding.
- Think out loud: Make sure you let us know your thoughts - partial credit applies here!
- If you’re completely lost…: Just tell us! We are happy to give you direction and get you started.
By the time we get to Q&A, we will have been chatting for a while and your mind may be a bit pre-occupied thinking about the code we wrote together. So, take some notes beforehand about what questions you want to ask during Q&A. We are happy to talk about anything of interest to you. Keep these tips in mind for the Q&A:
- Do your homework: Please do check out our online FAQ guide. We love talking to you, but if you’re asking us the exact questions that are already answered online, that probably isn’t the best use of our time together.
- Ask “tough” questions: Feel free to ask us tough questions. We love answering tough questions, because we spend every day working hard to make the Fullstack experience amazing. “Tough” questions give us a chance to share some of the details of our program with you.
- Happy to talk to you about other schools: Have you been admitted to other schools? That’s nothing to be shy about in Q&A. Most students who are admitted to Fullstack are also accepted to other top schools. We really are working on recruiting the best students here. We’re happy to discuss the differences and similarities of other schools.
I hope this summary of our interview process relieved some nerves and gave you some pointers about how to ace the Fullstack Academy interview. We look forward to meeting you soon. Now, get back to coding! :)
Interested in applying to Fullstack Academy? Check out our school’s application