Terrified of live coding interview questions

Hello everyone,

So I’ve been told that I would need to complete a 30 live coding exercise on HackerRank. The thought of this literally sends me into panic. The fact that I’ve already once missed out on a job opportunity because of failing on HackerRank doesn’t help matters. The really frustrating part is that I am actually a seasoned developer, but in the last 14 years I’ve had to do live coding only twice, and I never do well under time pressure. I always like to think things out and work them out on paper before coding a solution, and I definitely take more than 10 minutes per problem (the allocated time limit for HacerRank). I’ve recently moved to the Bay Area, and it seems like EVERY coding job requires live coding during the interview process. It’s just so frustrating.

So has anyone else had trouble with live coding exercises? Did you succeed or fail? Please share why? For those who failed were you still able to continue further in the interview process, or did it end right there? Any feedback and/or advice is most welcome.

Looking forward to all of your responses.



Hi! You can train live coding interviews for free on www.pramp.com :wink:


Wow that is a terrific service! Thank you so much!

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Thanks P1xt, those are all great, great points. In fact, I am putting them into my phone right now so I can use them for quick reference in the future!

OMG you are totally right! That’s the question I bombed one during my last attempt! That and forgetting the modulus operator :neutral_face:

Thank you for the link, gonna start today!

Well I just did another hackerrank test for an interview and I don’t think i did well. 7 questions with the last one being algorithm which I had about 20 minutes for but probably could have used more than an hour. That is just how my brain works. :cry:. That’s 0-2 on hacker rank interviews. The worst part? I have a stack of thank yous from previous clients saying what a great job I did for them and how they could always count on me to get the job done. None of that seems to matter…

Thank you for the offer. It’s really a simple problem and I just needed more time. This is the one:


@leondragan, I know how you feel. I’ve done a few online coding interviews (like the matching parenthesis problem you mentioned) and failed all of them.

The reasons I failed were:

  1. I missed an edge case - for whatever reason, my interviewers were extremely picky about every single edge case. No second chances. Once I say it’s done, they discuss it without giving me a chance to correct my edge case mistakes. I don’t know if this is normal interviewing practice, but I found this kinda harsh
  2. Time limit - a lot of the problems took me longer than they expected me to.
  3. I understood the basic algorithmic approach required to solve the problem - and could easily solve it using pseudocode - but my memory is not the best and I don’t remember all the api calls and functions details (for example - all the JavaScript array and string manipulation functions and their detailed usage) without looking up a reference like MDN or google. But for some reason, my interviewers were not satisfied with the fact that I knew how to solve the problem. They wanted me to recall the ins and outs of the api. My question regarding this is: in a real job situation I’ll always have google or some other reference resource handy. So why do I need to remember all the details of the api calls? Isn’t it more important to know how to solve the problem than remembering APIs?

To address the above problems I am thinking of doing the following:

  1. practice more problems so that I can improve my speed
  2. take some time and think through the problem in more detail (i.e. think through all the edge cases)
  3. As for the memorizing APIs part, I am at a loss here. I really don’t know what to do about it and how to improve it short of reading the documentation every day for a whole month or something along those lines. :frowning::weary:


OK folks here is what went down. So apparently I did well enough on the first timed test to make it to the second round. This was a true live coding exercise with my interviewer firing up a jsfiddle session. He then proceeded to paste problem statements one at a time in the window and have me implement them. The first task was to implement an object with some properties, so I threw to together an object literal. Second task was to add a method to the object that would output the first two properties to the console. The final question was to take in an array of literals and use the values inside to return an array of the objects I had created earlier in a single statment.

Now here is where @P1xt is totally right about practice, practice and more practice. Because I’ve been going through the algorithm challenges here on FCC, I’ve become fairly adept at manipulating arrays. I immediately saw that this problem called for the usage of Array.prototype.map() since it takes an array and returns an array as well. I also decided to change my earlier object implementation to a constructor function, so that I can create new instances of it. Now here is where my lack of practice come in. Because I don’t work with object a whole lot, I couldn’t remember whether my function needed to be added to a prototype or could just live on the object itself. Also there was a slight trick to the array that I needed to parse due to the fact that it was wrapped in single quotes. At that point in time, I could not figure out how to do that and told that much to the interviewer. He told me to put anything else I thought needed to be done in comments. We then concluded the coding portion and during the next few minutes he answered some questions I had about the job.

Yesterday I found out that they decided to pass. Obviously I was disappointed by the result, but not totally shocked. So I will continue doing more algorithm problems as that seems to be the best cure for the problem.


Thanks for forwarding this resource.

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I recommend you NeuroNation, is an app for phone/tablet. If you think you have trouble memorizing things you only have exercise your memory every day, just trying to remember unnecessary things(will be beneficial for you) and neuration is a good app for different kinds of metal exercises.
Later going to note the enhancement of memory. Good luck and sleep well too.

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Thanks @Luiko. I liked it. It is similar to Lumosity. But both of them want you to subscribe for $10/mo to really get some benefits from it. :disappointed:

Oh well, at least it’s good that there are resources out there.

I just found HackerRank a day or two ago–glad to see your comments on it.

I recently used http://www.codingpill.com. They do both coding and system design mock interviews. I booked two sessions and learned a lot - totally worth it!

I did the timed exam on Hackerrank (balanced parentheses was one of the coding questions). I must have met their requirements for I have a live coding interview. This, I am not too sure as I am also not good under pressure. Only praying for calm during the process.

Companies should just give small full projects or smaller assignments, as a few do. Live exercises exert a lot of pressure on the candidate and often the subjects are irrelevant and distant from the language and tools and the way of working one would adopt in the workplace