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How to ace Noom’s engineering intern interview

by | Sep 28, 2015

Sweaty palms, awkward small talk, the prospect of being judged by a total stranger… Interviews can be tough, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

At Noom, we like to do two interviews for our potential engineering interns, usually about 45 minutes each, with different members of the engineering team. They both follow the same format: We’ll probably ask you a bit about your background and goals, then work on a technical question together. The exact questions vary, but we’re pretty much always looking at the same things:

  • How do you solve problems?
  • What are you good at?
  • What are you passionate about?

Here are a few quick tips to get you through our interview process:

Keep it casual
No need to dress up—I sure won’t. Noom has a pretty casual office environment (strike that, very casual), and our interviews are the same. Wear whatever makes you comfortable. If that’s jeans and a t-shirt, great! If it really is the full Barney Stinson look, then by all means, suit up.

Speak your mind
I can’t evaluate you if I don’t know what you’re thinking. Try and turn off your internal filter and just let me know what’s going through your head. That way, if you’re on the right track, I’ll know, and if you’re on the wrong one, I can help set you straight. We’re not just looking for people who always get the right answer, but for people who tackle problems creatively and critically evaluate potential solutions—things we can only see if you clue us into your internal dialogue.

Stick to your comfort zone
We’re not looking for a particular set of skills. We’re more in Joel Spolsky’s “smart, gets things done” camp. So don’t feel like you need to use a language that we use at Noom—use whatever will show off your personal skillset the best. We want to see you at your best, not struggling to adjust to a new toolset. Figure out what’ll work best for you, and feel free to wait until you’ve understood what we’re asking you to code before picking something.

Play make believe
As an interviewer, I’m trying to evaluate whether I’d want to work with you on a daily basis. I’m not looking to trick you, because that’s not what I would do in the office. Instead, I try my best to act as if I’m just sitting down to solve a problem with a co-worker. As the interviewee, you can do the same! It’s mostly just a mental trick, but pretending that you’re just sitting down to solve a problem at work (or at school) can make things much less stressful.

That’s it! Just be yourself and show us what you got—no need to try to fit a particular mold. Now you tell us, what are your tips and tricks for a better interview?