“Technical Interviewing For Leadership & IC”: Flora Jha with Wells Fargo (Video + Transcript)

March 27, 2024

Technical interviewing is not about tricking you with riddles, or brain teasing you with impossible questions, but deriving real world solutions. Flora Jha (Wells Fargo Developer) will discuss technical resumes, from hiring platforms to the ATS buzzwords to know. She will go over technical screenings (e.g. data structures, algorithms, time & space complexity), including for systems design and design leads. She will help attendees build confidence preparing for a successful technical interview.


In this ELEVATE session, Flora Jha (Wells Fargo Developer), a software developer with experience in various domains, shares her advice on preparing for technical interviews, starting with the importance of preparing a great technical resume that highlights work and achievements.

Topics include tech screening, algorithms, data structures, and object-oriented principles, system design questions, and the importance of soft skills in technical interviews. She recommends preparation that includes researching the company and its culture before an interview.

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Flora Jha ELEVATE your resume should be ats friendly

Transcript of ELEVATE Session:

Flora Jha:

Thank you. Thank you, Sukrutha, for having me at Girl Geek ELEVATE Conference. I’m so thrilled to be with so many awesome women who are making their mark in tech industry. Thanks to all the audiences for joining in today. I wish to give a quick introduction in addition to what was defined for myself. I’m a software developer for seven plus years total experience. The domains I’ve worked, education, investment banking, government and others. I’m Sun certified Java Developer and also AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. Currently, I’m working on credit card domain building APIs.

I also run my own company called Bright Logicals LLC. Some fun facts about me, I have deployed 10 plus applications in Google Play Store. I have some volunteering experience as well. I’m currently co-lead at ACM-W students chapter, North America. I’m working with Lindsay Jamieson who is lead for the entire North America. I have my brief resume there on the first introductory slide. My LinkedIn profile has been posted through QR code. There is my complete profile. Without any further delay, let’s start with our topic today. Today the topic that I’m going to explore is going to be about technical interviewing.

This is the topic that’s very close to my heart because I have myself attended various technical interviews and to start with technical interview, it’s not about tricking you with any riddles and then brain teasing you with impossible questions.

Technical interviewing is all about preparing you to derive real world solution in real ways, just like those when you are on job. On contrary to the popular belief that technical interviewing is a science, I believe it’s more like an art, as there is a quote that says, “In science, universe is in control and in arts, you are in control.” In technical interview preparation, it’s exactly the same, you are in control.

Going next about the technical interviewing. What are the most important things? I just want to go across the first steps in hiring process and that is preparing a great technical resume. A resume that holds an epic story on your work and achievements. Before you, it’s your resume that’s going to be doing talking on your behalf. Make sure your resume is interesting with something that holds a lasting impression.

Look for ChatGPT-powered resume builders. I have enlisted some and as a giveaway I’m going to enlist some more. Look for symbol on the slide for takeaways, click onto it, should lead to a resource. You are always going to have options like how you want your resume to look and talk for you. Do you wish to write your resume in chronological order or reverse chronological order, for its obvious merits or simply hybrid order for its formal look and feel?

Most importantly, your resume should be ATS-friendly. ATS is Application Tracking System. It’s a buzzword for recruiters and for HR platforms in recent times. HR search engines look for certain terms to segregate the resume. These HR platforms are extensively ATS-oriented. Some HR platforms such as Greenhouse, Workable, Breezy HR, Lever are some examples. In the slide there is some detailing about these HR platforms and there is a report by Jobera that these recruiting platforms reduce the cost by 250% if they go with these ATS friendly HR platforms.

As a giveaway, I’m going to list some ATS friendly keywords that you can include in the resume. If your resume is the gateway to your work and achievements, then cover letter is your elevator pitch. You might have… This is basically, so you might have a plenty to say, but focus on some outstanding facts and figures, something eye catching. Mention what propels you or what motivates you.

Give the hiring manager an exact glimpse into what you can do for them. I’ve also mentioned Greatcareers.org that’s owned by Ms. Lynne Williams. She’s doing some great work in this area, you can check her work as well. Moving more into the details regarding what you should be doing for that, I have now entirely a different section to talk about. In the interview process, at some point you may have to go through tech screening. This might be the most decisive step, if not the only thing being considered in the hiring process.

A clear idea regarding an algorithm and its corresponding amortization complexity should be a priority in interview preparation. You don’t have to be an encyclopedia, however, you should be able to defend your answer or give an argument on why you think the solution you presented is the most optimum solution. Be prepared to write code on whiteboard or pseudocode.

Make sure your concepts regarding object-oriented principles or system designs are clear. You should be able to comprehend time and space complexity for any solution. Data structure and basic algorithm and how they work should be well-prepared in advance. Now, moving on to the sorting algorithms and various algorithms that I have tried to present on this slide, I’m going to specifically just give an example. Now say, for example, you have multiple sorting algorithms. Now, these are generally interviewers’ favorite question.

Comparing a sorting selection sort and quick sort for data set where N is equal to 1,000. Selection sort is going to require O(n) square or about a million operations, whereas quick sort is going to require only 10,000. Log base 2 for 1,000 is about 10 or 100 times faster. For data set where n is equal to 1 million, the savings are even better. Quick sort is 500,000 times faster than selection sort.

The way selection sort is going to work is by finding the smallest element in the array and swapping it as the first element. The first position is then ticked as done and pointer moves to the second element to find the smallest in the remaining and swapping it with the second position. Quick sort is considered as fastest because it is recursively going to sort elements by pivoting the last element and moving all the elements less than the pivot to the left side and those that are more than pivot to the right side.

Now moving on, I’m going to be taking an example. Now if you’re lucky, your interviewer might just ask you a simple question that, can you please write a code to find if a number is prime or maybe a string manipulation or something like that. But, technical interviewing is more like logic building, writing a code, and it’s very important that we do that logic building and writing a program perfectly.

I’m going to be presenting here a problem and the problem statement is, that we have a fence with N posts and we want to paint the fence. Every post must be painted exactly with one color. There cannot be two or more consecutive posts with the same color. We are going to represent color by K and a post in the fence by N. Now the very first step is going to be about logic building. So let’s start thinking how can we paint the first post. Then how many ways can we paint the second post, and then on the similar line, think about third post and so on. So, the first post can be painted either yellow, green or blue. As you can see here, I have just tried to give here detailing about how it can look so that you have a visual details as well.

If we have two posts then we can paint both the posts with the same color. So there are K ways to color it where K is a variable and we are representing it by K. Say for example I have K different ways, but I choose blue for the first post. For the second post I’m going to be doing the same as blue. I have no choice because I have chosen to paint both the posts with the same color. There’s only one way to choose the second color. Now, going onwards how we can, if we wish to paint these two with different color, then how many ways there is going to be K to K minus one. So, for the first post we have three choices, yellow, blue, and green, so we have K choices. For the second post, my choices are reduced by one because I want to keep both the posts different.

Our formula for computing total ways in which a post can be painted is going to be K+K * (K-1). And it is very simple because we just went through why we have come with this formula. So, we just have to add these values together. So far we are going really great and this is getting really interesting. Going on the similar line, we are going to determine the total ways to paint the third post.

In this particular slide it’s the most important slide because this gives a really good detailing about how we are going to build our logic. In this particular first column or maybe the second column, we are going to assume the basic two assumptions, and this is going to be for the third post. If we want to paint the third post different than the second and second assumption that we want to paint the third post to be the same as the second.

These two are going to further lead into sub-conditions and you can see in this fourth column we have those sub-conditions. I’m just quickly going through that so that makes more sense. First two are different, I want third also to be different. I have K-1 choices to make. Third post different. All I care is how the second post is, (first two posts different) * K-1. As you can see in the slide, that first two are different, that is blue and green, hence the third option I can choose is yellow or blue. Now second, first two are the same, I want to make third as different. Again, I have K-1 choices to make it different. (First two posts are the same) * K-1. Now going with the second assumption here on the second column that we want to make the third as same as the second.

First two are different. I want to make the third post the same as second. It’s possible if second is different than the first, there is only one way I can do that. And finally, it’s first two are the same and I want to make the third as the same, that is not possible, it is violating our boundary rule, and what’s the boundary rule? We cannot paint with more than one color, more than two consecutive posts, we cannot paint it with the same color. Now, we have built our logic, and the most important thing is that we have built a generalization and that is very, very important because if you solve something like this, it’s really going to help you to build a logic. And then for this particular problem, the generalization says that, for the third post to be different, total ways third post can be painted differently plus total ways third post can be painted the same.

We have reached this particular generalization. For example, if we consider fifth post and how many ways can we paint it differently. We simply have to look how many ways can we paint fourth post to be painted differently plus same and multiply it by K-1. That’s the generalization we have. After this we’re going to write either the pseudocode. For here I have just written the program itself. I thought it’s going to be a great idea just to share it with you. Now based on it I think you can look across, you have questions and concerns, you can definitely post it in the chat and I should be able to answer to it. Now, you can just look into it and I am going to, it is very self-explanatory because we have already gone through it.

Now we are going to analyze the complexity for this particular problem. The time complexity is O(n) because we are iterating from three to N once where each iteration is requiring O(1) time. O(n) is also known as linear time complexity. The runtime increases linearly with input’s size, and the space complexity is O(1) because we are using only some constant variables to store the value that is repeatedly replacing itself. So far this is the best solution we have arrived because it has the best possible space complexity we can create for this solution.

As promised during the first slide, technical interviewing is not about brain teasing you with impossible questions. It’s about solving day to day problems in simpler ways. There I was. Now moving on to something really important in technical interviewing, and that is mostly for the tech leads and it can be even for ICs, but then more for tech leads.

And that is system design questions. It’s a must for tech leads, actually, and it cannot be restricted with certain questions only. Design questions can be based on simple questions like, tell me about a time you solved a conflict with a developer. How did you handle criticism about your own design or a complex question, for that matter? As a preparation tip to solve any design questions, prepare and prepare, do all your mocks. Now moving on, we are going to have something simpler and that is, those questions that I just showed you in the start, we have little different than that. Say for example, when you are talking during the interview. You have to think as well as talk. The more logical and coordinated your thought processes, the better it is to help answering any question. In many ways, a designer is as good as their tools.

Any knowledge you have about design solution is an asset you should utilize in your interview. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify yourself before answering. Additionally, be sure to mention certain skills that make you more versatile, such as, any certification or any programming language. Some more ideas: associate any design solution with any accomplishments or project work you have previously done.

Share your portfolio having similar work, and for analysis problems, for system analysis, try giving multiple solutions to the given problem. If required, you should be ready to defend each solution with each having its merit over the other. Moving on to the technical interviewing, some more aspects into it, and this is more about the soft skills. Now, more questions… either you can just look out for more questions. I have just put some more questions as well.

How do you do your time management? Management and lead duties can be tough for some. If you are interviewing for a role that requires managing others and are working on tight timelines, organization skills are even more crucial to demonstrate, especially for the tech leads.

Some questions that might come regarding the soft skills and regarding the time management, calendar management and in those lines, it can be something like this, how do you stay organized? Tell me about a time you had an enormous workload. How do you organize your priorities? Describe a role where you had to handle many things at once. How did you manage it? What organizational tools do you use in your work day? These are some basic questions. You should also know how to manage calendar, how do you prioritize your meeting and many other tools to handle your day-to-day work life. What are the best available tools?

I think these are also very important that you really remember what are the tools and how are you going to manage them? Okay, so going with some more ideas. It’s like I’ve done a little more research, but I always wish and I always advise that you should be doing little research about the company as well and you should do your homework about the company because leads are big responsibilities.

That little research about the company culture can give you an advantage over others. Look for inner information like if a company hosts your own podcast. Podcasts are the team style conversation that are availed as digital imprints into social medias. As a takeaway, I’m going to list companies that have brand presence through podcasts. Some companies that I worked at have their thriving podcast as an example, Wells Fargo has Working at Wells Fargo, McAfee has Hackable?

McKinsey has McKinsey Podcast and WHOOP has WHOOP. There are so many different podcasts you can just go through. They are really great as far as giving ideas regarding how a company culture works or what’s the team style conversation and things like that, so I’ve listed it here. Now, and also remember that it’s a never ending discussion on how much can you prepare.

Always remember you are not expected to be an encyclopedia, you should just be thorough with what you know and what you should know. The basics, the fundamentals, and you should have answers to everything you ever learned and ever worked on. I wish you all, best luck for all your preparations and please allow yourself to contact if you have any questions or concerns. I see that I do have questions in the chat, so I’m going to answer them here quickly and I’m just looking into here. So let me just take the questions.

Something is about getting connected and application tracking systems. I think it’s a great way to… Because almost all the HR platforms, if you see and if you just clearly go through, they are using this as the buzzword and I have also included in my slides some statistics by Jobera and they claim that if you have those buzzwords, they really help your resume to sail through.

I also wanted to mention, and I think this is really great that I just got connected to Ms. Lynne Williams and she is doing some really great work as far as resume building is concerned. Now it’s your wish if you really want to include ATS friendly words or if you just want your resume to be chronological order or reverse chronological order for its obvious merits, or maybe you just want it to be hybrid for little personal touch. I think you all can go for it with Ms. Lynne Williams. I think it’s…

Sukrutha Bhadouria:

Flora, she’s actually commented thanking you for the shout-out, she’s put in her link. But thank you so much Flora, we’re at time and this was a really engaging conversation and an engaging session. Thank you for your time.

Flora Jha:

Thank you, thank you very much.

Sukrutha Bhadouria:

Thank you everybody, bye…

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