My first technical internship interview experience

I am dumb. So, so, dumb.

That was my conclusion after I ended the phone call with my interviewer, closed my browser tab that had the URL for the live coding we did after wrestling for (over) 45 minutes on a single interview problem that shouldn't have taken more than 10. My head was still reeling from what just happened. I was still recovering from (one of) the most embarrassing 45 minutes of my life. 15 minutes later, an email.

"Thank you for your interest in [company]... We do not feel... "

Wow, that was fast.

To be fair, the interviewer did mention that in a few minutes the recruiter would reach out to me with an email. (Or maybe that was a polite rejection on the spot without making it seem like so?)

And that was how my first technical interview ended. Horribly.

There were no hard data structure or algorithm questions involved. No brain teasers or anything. A straight up coding challenge that was straightforward and had an straightforward answer. How easy was it? If you know basic Java and array, then you should be able to answer this question. 2 semesters of data structures and algorithms yet I couldn't solve it.

My ego was bruised.

Looking back, I would like to think that the heat of the moment got to me. But in fact I don't think it did. I was very calm and I talked more than usual, which is good since I'm naturally shy. In fact, I overcompensated by saying random things that I thought when attempting to solve the problem. I did think and have time to think long and hard about the problem. Yet the obviousness of the answer escaped me. Maybe I am overestimating how easy the question was? Usually questions that elicit responses from me like "Wow, I did not think of approaching the problem from that angle before" are to me the interesting and the real hard ones. But the solution, after the interviewer explained to me after my unsuccessful attempts, was underwhelmingly easy. I facepalmed myself (in my head of course) the moment I understood how the solution works.

What sucked even more was that I saw the question on Glassdoor a few hours before my interview yet I did not try solving it as a practice problem for my interview.

Double facepalm

In short, what I took away from this experience was: more practice with interview questions. I haven't used the Cracking the Coding Interview book that I bought a year ago in some substantive manner, truth be told. My class homework assignments and projects always have a way of keeping me busy, leaving me with relatively few hours of sleep let alone an hour for practicing interview questions every single day. Also, I need my daily dose of facebook and youtube usage as most procrastinating college students do.

And I had a midterm and a paper and a project at the time, which naturally occupied my thoughts and perhaps when I should have been preparing for the interview weeks before. Yes, classwork is more important and that I should prioritize them. And I did. But I want the internship... *cries

I could go on and on about how I manage my time badly and that I should have been more efficient when doing my homework assignment (no youtube and facebook breaks after every 15 minutes or so; read faster; do math problems faster; etc.).

But I guess looking back, I shouldn't have been so hard on myself. My college basically requires a lot of my attention and effort (and given my relatively challenging coursework I'm handling this semester and I think this is the hardest I've worked so far since high school) so I'm just taking it hard on myself for something that I can fix right now. I'm glad I went through this experience as a sophomore so that I'm more prepared when job hunting season in senior year rolls around. I still have time to apply for internships to other companies so I still get chances. Right?