Update: I got accepted and started Dev Bootcamp in August 2014! Read my daily blog posts to find out what I’ve been working on and what an average day looks like at Dev Bootcamp.
Very soon after submitting my Dev Bootcamp application, I received an email confirming my progression onto the next stage: the Dev Bootcamp interview. I’ve always done pretty well at interviews, so I wasn’t fretting too much about this, but I still like to be prepared as possible.
The confirmation email suggested I go through Codecademy Ruby track 1-9, watch a video on ‘Engineering Empathy’, and possibly have a look at the Phase 0 prep. Since I’ve already done a fair amount of Ruby/Rails dev on and off for the past year, I was able to tick off most of the phase 0 prep straight away, but redid a few things to refresh my memory.
I spent most of my time preparing for the Dev Bootcamp interview thinking more about what to say about myself, why I was interested in Dev Bootcamp, and where I wanted my career to head. In tandem, I read through Eloquent Ruby worked through a few Project Euler questions in Ruby and implemented a couple of different sorting algorithms.
Due to the time difference, my Dev Bootcamp interview wasn’t until 2130 GMT, but this actually gave me a nice break between work and the interview in which to wind down from work mode and back up into programming mode. Onto the interview itself (YMMV!):
Dev Bootcamp interview structure
Intro (2 minutes)
Quick introductions and small talk before we dove into the interview
A bit about me (5 minutes)
This was a chance for me to give my abbreviated, programming-focused life story. It was mostly a condensed version of my application, but gave my interviewer a chance to ask some specific questions about my background and goals that made it clear that they’d read and paid attention to my application (always nice to see!).
My questions (5-10 minutes)
I had a whole load of questions lined up, but as we were only scheduled for 30 minutes I didn’t want to force my interviewer to over-run. Just like any interview, make sure to come prepared with some interesting/necessary questions.
Logic problem (5-10 minutes)
This was definitely the hardest part of the interview for me – I was presented with a logic problem/riddle (which I won’t share as I’m assuming they re-use them) and asked to do my best to solve it and walk the interviewer through my process. I don’t believe you’re expected to solve the riddle (I didn’t), but instead it gives the interviewer a chance to see how you approach a difficult problem in an unusual situation. I did my best to verbalise my thought process, ask questions, and not go too long just letting my mind wander.
Technical problems (10 minutes)
I was then asked to go to a website which allowed us to collaboratively edit/view some Ruby code. I was presented with three Ruby problems, the first of which we skipped. After solving the second, the interviewer threw a few questions at me along the lines of “Why can’t we do this? What would happen if we change this to that?” – if you’ve done the necessary prep, you should have no problem answering these. The third challenge may be more difficult for someone who has little to no programming background, so my only advice here is to take it slowly and follow it step-by-step. After this challenge, my interviewer pasted in a huge (purposefully) ugly Ruby method and asked me to explain what it was doing. I got about halfway through this before we ran out of time.
Wrap-up (2 minutes)
At this point, my interviewer clarified what would happen next (i.e. I’d hear back within 24 hours if I’d been accepted) and asked if I had any further questions. As we were running over by at least 10 minutes by this point, I suggested I’d email him if I thought of anything else.
Overall I really enjoyed my Dev Bootcamp interview – I only got a bit flustered during the logic problem when I ran out of ideas but didn’t want to admit defeat, but overall I think it went well.
Suggested interview prep
If you’ve been invited to an interview with Dev Bootcamp, I’d suggest the following prep:
- Watch the ‘Engineering Empathy’ video linked in your confirmation email. I had a few discussion points around this, but it didn’t actually come up in my interview
- Complete Ruby Codecademy track 1-9 (if you have a Codeschool account, I think the Try Ruby course is worth doing as well)
- Read up on recursion and implement a basic recursive function in Ruby. Why? Oh, just because.
- If you want a real challenge, give the first few Project Euler problems a try
- Review your initial application and think about the key points of your background, why you want to apply, and what path you might want your programming career to take
- Come up with a good list of questions to ask your interviewer
If you want to be really prepared, then your absolutely best bet is to read up on ruby. Below are a few books that greatly helped me in the run-up to my interview:
- Eloquent Ruby: this is a great resource that takes you from the absolute foundations of ruby right up to more advanced concepts such as metaprogramming and DSLs
- The Well-Grounded Rubyist: like Eloquent Ruby, this book starts from the very basics and guides you to some very advanced concepts. You wouldn’t need both books as the cover much the same material. I personally preferred Eloquent Ruby, but you may do well to read reviews on both and make your own call
- Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby: this is the absolute best book for program design in ruby and is a recommended purchase by Dev Bootcamp. You need a good foundation in ruby before reading it, so go through it after either Eloquent Ruby or The Well-Grounded Rubyist. If you work your way through one of those books and follow it up with Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby, not only will you ace your Dev Bootcamp interview, but you’ll put yourself miles ahead of 99% of everyone else in your cohort when you start.