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First Time Going Through Coding Interviews?

This post draws on my personal experiences and challenges over the past term at school, which I entered with hardly any knowledge of DSA (data structures and algorithms) and problem-solving strategies. As a self-taught programmer, I was a lot more familiar and comfortable with general programming, such as object-oriented programming, than with the problem-solving skills required in DSA questions.
This post reflects my journey throughout the term and the resources I turned to in order to quickly improve for my coding interview.
Here're some common questions and answers
What's the interview process like at a tech company?
Good question. It's actually pretty different from most other companies.

(What It's Like To Interview For A Coding Job

First time interviewing for a tech job? Not sure what to expect? This article is for you.

Here are the usual steps:

  1. First, you’ll do a non-technical phone screen.
  2. Then, you’ll do one or a few technical phone interviews.
  3. Finally, the last step is an onsite interview.
Some companies also throw in a take-home code test—sometimes before the technical phone interviews, sometimes after.
Let’s walk through each of these steps.

The non-technical phone screen

This first step is a quick call with a recruiter—usually just 10–20 minutes. It's very casual.
Don’t expect technical questions. The recruiter probably won’t be a programmer.
The main goal is to gather info about your job search. Stuff like:

  1. Your timeline. Do you need to sign an offer in the next week? Or are you trying to start your new job in three months?
  2. What’s most important to you in your next job. Great team? Flexible hours? Interesting technical challenges? Room to grow into a more senior role?
  3. What stuff you’re most interested in working on. Front end? Back end? Machine learning?
Be honest about all this stuff—that’ll make it easier for the recruiter to get you what you want.
One exception to that rule: If the recruiter asks you about your salary expectations on this call, best not to answer. Just say you’d rather talk about compensation after figuring out if you and the company are a good fit. This’ll put you in a better negotiating position later on.

The technical phone interview(s)

The next step is usually one or more hour-long technical phone interviews.
Your interviewer will call you on the phone or tell you to join them on Skype or Google Hangouts. Make sure you can take the interview in a quiet place with a great internet connection. Consider grabbing a set of headphones with a good microphone or a bluetooth earpiece. Always test your hardware beforehand!
The interviewer will want to watch you code in real time. Usually that means using a web-based code editor like Coderpad or collabedit. Run some practice problems in these tools ahead of time, to get used to them. Some companies will just ask you to share your screen through Google Hangouts or Skype.
Turn off notifications on your computer before you get started—especially if you’re sharing your screen!
Technical phone interviews usually have three parts:

  1. Beginning chitchat (5–10 minutes)
  2. Technical challenges (30–50 minutes)
  3. Your turn to ask questions (5–10 minutes)
The beginning chitchat is half just to help your relax, and half actually part of the interview. The interviewer might ask some open-ended questions like:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Tell me about something you’ve built that you’re particularly proud of.
  3. I see this project listed on your resume—tell me more about that.
You should be able to talk at length about the major projects listed on your resume. What went well? What didn’t? How would you do things differently now?
Then come the technical challenges—the real meet of the interview. You’ll spend most of the interview on this. You might get one long question, or several shorter ones.
What kind of questions can you expect? It depends.
Startups tend to ask questions aimed towards building or debugging code. (“Write a function that takes two rectangles and figures out if they overlap.”). They’ll care more about progress than perfection.
Larger companies will want to test your general know-how of data structures and algorithms (“Write a function that checks if a binary tree is ‘balanced’ in O(n)O(n) ↴ time.”). They’ll care more about how you solve and optimize a problem.
With these types of questions, the most important thing is to be communicating with your interviewer throughout. You'll want to "think out loud" as you work through the problem. For more info, check out our more detailed step-by-step tips for coding interviews.
If the role requires specific languages or frameworks, some companies will ask trivia-like questions (“In Python, what’s the ‘global interpreter lock’?”).
After the technical questions, your interviewer will open the floor for you to ask them questions. Take some time before the interview to comb through the company’s website. Think of a few specific questions about the company or the role. This can really make you stand out.
When you’re done, they should give you a timeframe on when you’ll hear about next steps. If all went well, you’ll either get asked to do another phone interview, or you’ll be invited to their offices for an onsite.

The onsite interview

An onsite interview happens in person, at the company’s office. If you’re not local, it’s common for companies to pay for a flight and hotel room for you.
The onsite usually consists of 2–6 individual, one-on-one technical interviews (usually in a small conference room). Each interview will be about an hour and have the same basic form as a phone screen—technical questions, bookended by some chitchat at the beginning and a chance for you to ask questions at the end.
The major difference between onsite technical interviews and phone interviews though: you’ll be coding on a whiteboard.
This is awkward at first. No autocomplete, no debugging tools, no delete button…ugh. The good news is, after some practice you get used to it. Before your onsite, practice writing code on a whiteboard (in a pinch, a pencil and paper are fine). Some tips:

  1. Start in the top-most left corner of the whiteboard. This gives you the most room. You’ll need more space than you think.
  2. Leave a blank line between each line as you write your code. Makes it much easier to add things in later.
  3. Take an extra second to decide on your variable names. Don’t rush this part. It might seem like a waste of time, but using more descriptive variable names ultimately saves you time because it makes you less likely to get confused as you write the rest of your code.
If a technical phone interview is a sprint, an onsite is a marathon. The day can get really long. Best to keep it open—don’t make other plans for the afternoon or evening.
When things go well, you’ wrap-up by chatting with the CEO or some other director. This is half an interview, half the company trying to impress you. They may invite you to get drinks with the team after hours.
All told, a long day of onsite interviews could look something like this:

  • 10am-12pm: two back-to-back technical interviews, each about an hour.
  • 12pm-1pm: one or several engineers will take you to lunch, perhaps in the company’s fancy office cafeteria.
  • 1pm-4pm: three back-to-back technical interviews, each about an hour.
  • 4pm-5pm: interview with the CEO or some sort of director.
  • 5pm-8pm: drinks and dinner with the company
If they let you go after just a couple interviews, it’s usually a sign that they’re going to pass on you. That’s okay—it happens!
There are are a lot of easy things you can do the day before and morning of your interview to put yourself in the best possible mindset. Check out our piece on what to do in the 24 hours before your onsite coding interview.

The take-home code test

Code tests aren’t ubiquitous, but they seem to be gaining in popularity. They’re far more common at startups, or places where your ability to deliver right away is more important than your ability to grow.
You’ll receive a description of an app or service, a rough time constraint for writing your code, and a deadline for when to turn it in. The deadline is usually negotiable.
Here's an example problem:
Write a basic “To-Do” app. Unit test the core functionality. As a bonus, add a “reminders” feature. Try to spend no more than 8 hours on it, and send in what you have by Friday with a small write-up.
Take a crack at the “bonus” features if they include any. At the very least, write up how you would implement it.
If they’re hiring for people with knowledge of a particular framework, they might tell you what tech to use. Otherwise, it’ll be up to you. Use what you’re most comfortable with. You want this code to show you at your best.
Some places will offer to pay you for your time. It's rare, but some places will even invite you to work with them in their office for a few days, as a "trial.")
Do I need to know this "big O" stuff?
Big O notation is the language we use for talking about the efficiency of data structures and algorithms.
Will it come up in your interviews? Well, it depends. There are different types of interviews.
There’s the classic algorithmic coding interview, sometimes called the “Google-style whiteboard interview.” It’s focused on data structures and algorithms (queues and stacks, binary search, etc).
That’s what our full course prepares you for. It's how the big players interview. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, LinkedIn, etc.
For startups and smaller shops, it’s a mixed bag. Most will ask at least a few algorithmic questions. But they might also include some role-specific stuff, like Java questions or SQL questions for a backend web engineer. They’ll be especially interested in your ability to ship code without much direction. You might end up doing a code test or pair-programming exercise instead of a whiteboarding session.
To make sure you study for the right stuff, you should ask your recruiter what to expect. Send an email with a question like, “Is this interview going to cover data structures and algorithms? Or will it be more focused around coding in X language.” They’ll be happy to tell you.
If you've never learned about data structures and algorithms, or you're feeling a little rusty, check out our Intuitive Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms.
Which programming language should I use?
Companies usually let you choose, in which case you should use your most comfortable language. If you know a bunch of languages, prefer one that lets you express more with fewer characters and fewer lines of code, like Python or Ruby. It keeps your whiteboard cleaner.
Try to stick with the same language for the whole interview, but sometimes you might want to switch languages for a question. E.g., processing a file line by line will be far easier in Python than in C++.
Sometimes, though, your interviewer will do this thing where they have a pet question that’s, for example, C-specific. If you list C on your resume, they’ll ask it.
So keep that in mind! If you’re not confident with a language, make that clear on your resume. Put your less-strong languages under a header like ‘Working Knowledge.’
What should I wear?
A good rule of thumb is to dress a tiny step above what people normally wear to the office. For most west coast tech companies, the standard digs are just jeans and a t-shirt. Ask your recruiter what the office is like if you’re worried about being too casual.
Should I send a thank-you note?
Thank-you notes are nice, but they aren’t really expected. Be casual if you send one. No need for a hand-calligraphed note on fancy stationery. Opt for a short email to your recruiter or the hiring manager. Thank them for helping you through the process, and ask them to relay your thanks to your interviewers.
1) Coding Interview Tips
How to get better at technical interviews without practicing
Chitchat like a pro.
Before diving into code, most interviewers like to chitchat about your background. They're looking for:

  • Metacognition about coding. Do you think about how to code well?
  • Ownership/leadership. Do you see your work through to completion? Do you fix things that aren't quite right, even if you don't have to?
  • Communication. Would chatting with you about a technical problem be useful or painful?
You should have at least one:

  • example of an interesting technical problem you solved
  • example of an interpersonal conflict you overcame
  • example of leadership or ownership
  • story about what you should have done differently in a past project
  • piece of trivia about your favorite language, and something you do and don't like about said language
  • question about the company's product/business
  • question about the company's engineering strategy (testing, Scrum, etc)
Nerd out about stuff. Show you're proud of what you've done, you're amped about what they're doing, and you have opinions about languages and workflows.
Communicate.
Once you get into the coding questions, communication is key. A candidate who needed some help along the way but communicated clearly can be even better than a candidate who breezed through the question.
Understand what kind of problem it is. There are two types of problems:

  1. Coding. The interviewer wants to see you write clean, efficient code for a problem.
  2. Chitchat. The interviewer just wants you to talk about something. These questions are often either (1) high-level system design ("How would you build a Twitter clone?") or (2) trivia ("What is hoisting in Javascript?"). Sometimes the trivia is a lead-in for a "real" question e.g., "How quickly can we sort a list of integers? Good, now suppose instead of integers we had . . ."
If you start writing code and the interviewer just wanted a quick chitchat answer before moving on to the "real" question, they'll get frustrated. Just ask, "Should we write code for this?"
Make it feel like you're on a team. The interviewer wants to know what it feels like to work through a problem with you, so make the interview feel collaborative. Use "we" instead of "I," as in, "If we did a breadth-first search we'd get an answer in O(n)O(n) time." If you get to choose between coding on paper and coding on a whiteboard, always choose the whiteboard. That way you'll be situated next to the interviewer, facing the problem (rather than across from her at a table).
Think out loud. Seriously. Say, "Let's try doing it this way—not sure yet if it'll work." If you're stuck, just say what you're thinking. Say what might work. Say what you thought could work and why it doesn't work. This also goes for trivial chitchat questions. When asked to explain Javascript closures, "It's something to do with scope and putting stuff in a function" will probably get you 90% credit.
Say you don't know. If you're touching on a fact (e.g., language-specific trivia, a hairy bit of runtime analysis), don't try to appear to know something you don't. Instead, say "I'm not sure, but I'd guess $thing, because...". The because can involve ruling out other options by showing they have nonsensical implications, or pulling examples from other languages or other problems.
Slow the eff down. Don't confidently blurt out an answer right away. If it's right you'll still have to explain it, and if it's wrong you'll seem reckless. You don't win anything for speed and you're more likely to annoy your interviewer by cutting her off or appearing to jump to conclusions.
Get unstuck.
Sometimes you'll get stuck. Relax. It doesn't mean you've failed. Keep in mind that the interviewer usually cares more about your ability to cleverly poke the problem from a few different angles than your ability to stumble into the correct answer. When hope seems lost, keep poking.
Draw pictures. Don't waste time trying to think in your head—think on the board. Draw a couple different test inputs. Draw how you would get the desired output by hand. Then think about translating your approach into code.
Solve a simpler version of the problem. Not sure how to find the 4th largest item in the set? Think about how to find the 1st largest item and see if you can adapt that approach.
Write a naive, inefficient solution and optimize it later. Use brute force. Do whatever it takes to get some kind of answer.
Think out loud more. Say what you know. Say what you thought might work and why it won't work. You might realize it actually does work, or a modified version does. Or you might get a hint.
Wait for a hint. Don't stare at your interviewer expectantly, but do take a brief second to "think"—your interviewer might have already decided to give you a hint and is just waiting to avoid interrupting.
Think about the bounds on space and runtime. If you're not sure if you can optimize your solution, think about it out loud. For example:

  • "I have to at least look at all of the items, so I can't do better than O(n)O(n)."
  • "The brute force approach is to test all possibilities, which is O(n^2)O(n2)."
  • "The answer will contain n^2n2 items, so I must at least spend that amount of time."
Get your thoughts down.
It's easy to trip over yourself. Focus on getting your thoughts down first and worry about the details at the end.
Call a helper function and keep moving. If you can't immediately think of how to implement some part of your algorithm, big or small, just skip over it. Write a call to a reasonably-named helper function, say "this will do X" and keep going. If the helper function is trivial, you might even get away with never implementing it.
Don't worry about syntax. Just breeze through it. Revert to English if you have to. Just say you'll get back to it.
Leave yourself plenty of room. You may need to add code or notes in between lines later. Start at the top of the board and leave a blank line between each line.
Save off-by-one checking for the end. Don't worry about whether your for loop should have "<<" or "<=<=." Write a checkmark to remind yourself to check it at the end. Just get the general algorithm down.
Use descriptive variable names. This will take time, but it will prevent you from losing track of what your code is doing. Use names_to_phone_numbers instead of nums. Imply the type in the name. Functions returning booleans should start with "is_*". Vars that hold a list should end with "s." Choose standards that make sense to you and stick with them.
Clean up when you're done.
Walk through your solution by hand, out loud, with an example input. Actually write down what values the variables hold as the program is running—you don't win any brownie points for doing it in your head. This'll help you find bugs and clear up confusion your interviewer might have about what you're doing.
Look for off-by-one errors. Should your for loop use a "<=<=" instead of a "<<"?
Test edge cases. These might include empty sets, single-item sets, or negative numbers. Bonus: mention unit tests!
Don't be boring. Some interviewers won't care about these cleanup steps. If you're unsure, say something like, "Then I'd usually check the code against some edge cases—should we do that next?"
Practice.
In the end, there's no substitute for running practice questions.
Actually write code with pen and paper. Be honest with yourself. It'll probably feel awkward at first. Good. You want to get over that awkwardness now so you're not fumbling when it's time for the real interview.

2) Tricks For Getting Unstuck During a Coding Interview
Getting stuck during a coding interview is rough.
If you weren’t in an interview, you might take a break or ask Google for help. But the clock is ticking, and you don’t have Google.
You just have an empty whiteboard, a smelly marker, and an interviewer who’s looking at you expectantly. And all you can think about is how stuck you are.
You need a lifeline for these moments—like a little box that says “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass.”
Inside that glass box? A list of tricks for getting unstuck. Here’s that list of tricks.
When you’re stuck on getting started
1) Write a sample input on the whiteboard and turn it into the correct output "by hand." Notice the process you use. Look for patterns, and think about how to implement your process in code.
Trying to reverse a string? Write “hello” on the board. Reverse it “by hand”—draw arrows from each character’s current position to its desired position.
Notice the pattern: it looks like we’re swapping pairs of characters, starting from the outside and moving in. Now we’re halfway to an algorithm.
2) Solve a simpler version of the problem. Remove or simplify one of the requirements of the problem. Once you have a solution, see if you can adapt that approach for the original question.
Trying to find the k-largest element in a set? Walk through finding the largest element, then the second largest, then the third largest. Generalizing from there to find the k-largest isn’t so bad.
3) Start with an inefficient solution. Even if it feels stupidly inefficient, it’s often helpful to start with something that’ll return the right answer. From there, you just have to optimize your solution. Explain to your interviewer that this is only your first idea, and that you suspect there are faster solutions.
Suppose you were given two lists of sorted numbers and asked to find the median of both lists combined. It’s messy, but you could simply:

  1. Concatenate the arrays together into a new array.
  2. Sort the new array.
  3. Return the value at the middle index.
Notice that you could’ve also arrived at this algorithm by using trick (2): Solve a simpler version of the problem. “How would I find the median of one sorted list of numbers? Just grab the item at the middle index. Now, can I adapt that approach for getting the median of two sorted lists?”
When you’re stuck on finding optimizations
1) Look for repeat work. If your current solution goes through the same data multiple times, you’re doing unnecessary repeat work. See if you can save time by looking through the data just once.
Say that inside one of your loops, there’s a brute-force operation to find an element in an array. You’re repeatedly looking through items that you don’t have to. Instead, you could convert the array to a lookup table to dramatically improve your runtime.
2) Look for hints in the specifics of the problem. Is the input array sorted? Is the binary tree balanced? Details like this can carry huge hints about the solution. If it didn’t matter, your interviewer wouldn’t have brought it up. It’s a strong sign that the best solution to the problem exploits it.
Suppose you’re asked to find the first occurrence of a number in a sorted array. The fact that the array is sorted is a strong hint—take advantage of that fact by using a binary search.

Sometimes interviewers leave the question deliberately vague because they want you to ask questions to unearth these important tidbits of context. So ask some questions at the beginning of the problem.
3) Throw some data structures at the problem. Can you save time by using the fast lookups of a hash table? Can you express the relationships between data points as a graph? Look at the requirements of the problem and ask yourself if there’s a data structure that has those properties.
4) Establish bounds on space and runtime. Think out loud about the parameters of the problem. Try to get a sense for how fast your algorithm could possibly be:

  • “I have to at least look at all the items, so I can’t do better than O(n)O(n) ↴ time”.
  • “The brute force approach is to test all possibilities, which is O(n^2)O(n2) time. So the question is whether or not I can beat that time.”
  • “The answer will contain n^2n2 items, so I must at least spend that amount of time.”
When All Else Fails
1) Make it clear where you are. State what you know, what you’re trying to do, and highlight the gap between the two. The clearer you are in expressing exactly where you’re stuck, the easier it is for your interviewer to help you.
2) Pay attention to your interviewer. If she asks a question about something you just said, there’s probably a hint buried in there. Don’t worry about losing your train of thought—drop what you’re doing and dig into her question.
Relax. You’re supposed to get stuck.
Interviewers choose hard problems on purpose. They want to see how you poke at a problem you don’t immediately know how to solve.
Seriously. If you don’t get stuck and just breeze through the problem, your interviewer’s evaluation might just say “Didn’t get a good read on candidate’s problem-solving process—maybe she’d already seen this interview question before?”
On the other hand, if you do get stuck, use one of these tricks to get unstuck, and communicate clearly with your interviewer throughout...that’s how you get an evaluation like, “Great problem-solving skills. Hire.”

3) Fixing Impostor Syndrome in Coding Interviews
“It's a fluke that I got this job interview...”
“I studied for weeks, but I’m still not prepared...”
“I’m not actually good at this. They’re going to see right through me...”
If any of these thoughts resonate with you, you're not alone. They are so common they have a name: impostor syndrome.
It’s that feeling like you’re on the verge of being exposed for what you really are—an impostor. A fraud.
Impostor syndrome is like kryptonite to coding interviews. It makes you give up and go silent.
You might stop asking clarifying questions because you’re afraid they’ll sound too basic. Or you might neglect to think out loud at the whiteboard, fearing you’ll say something wrong and sound incompetent.
You know you should speak up, but the fear of looking like an impostor makes that really, really hard.
Here’s the good news: you’re not an impostor. You just feel like an impostor because of some common cognitive biases about learning and knowledge.
Once you understand these cognitive biases—where they come from and how they work—you can slowly fix them. You can quiet your worries about being an impostor and keep those negative thoughts from affecting your interviews.

Everything you could know

Here’s how impostor syndrome works.
Software engineering is a massive field. There’s a huge universe of things you could know. Huge.
In comparison to the vast world of things you could know, the stuff you actually know is just a tiny sliver:
That’s the first problem. It feels like you don’t really know that much, because you only know a tiny sliver of all the stuff there is to know.

The expanding universe

It gets worse: counterintuitively, as you learn more, your sliver of knowledge feels like it's shrinking.
That's because you brush up against more and more things you don’t know yet. Whole disciplines like machine learning, theory of computation, and embedded systems. Things you can't just pick up in an afternoon. Heavy bodies of knowledge that take months to understand.
So the universe of things you could know seems to keep expanding faster and faster—much faster than your tiny sliver of knowledge is growing. It feels like you'll never be able to keep up.

What everyone else knows

Here's another common cognitive bias: we assume that because something is easy for us, it must be easy for everyone else. So when we look at our own skills, we assume they're not unique. But when we look at other people's skills, we notice the skills they have that we don't have.
The result? We think everyone’s knowledge is a superset of our own:
This makes us feel like everyone else is ahead of us. Like we're always a step behind.
But the truth is more like this:
There's a whole area of stuff you know that neither Aysha nor Bruno knows. An area you're probably blind to, because you're so focused on the stuff you don't know.

We’ve all had flashes of realizing this. For me, it was seeing the back end code wizard on my team—the one that always made me feel like an impostor—spend an hour trying to center an image on a webpage.

It's a problem of focus

Focusing on what you don't know causes you to underestimate what you do know. And that's what causes impostor syndrome.
By looking at the vast (and expanding) universe of things you could know, you feel like you hardly know anything.
And by looking at what Aysha and Bruno know that you don't know, you feel like you're a step behind.
And interviews make you really focus on what you don't know. You focus on what could go wrong. The knowledge gaps your interviewers might find. The questions you might not know how to answer.
But remember:
Just because Aysha and Bruno know some things you don't know, doesn't mean you don't also know things Aysha and Bruno don't know.
And more importantly, everyone's body of knowledge is just a teeny-tiny sliver of everything they could learn. We all have gaps in our knowledge. We all have interview questions we won't be able to answer.
You're not a step behind. You just have a lot of stuff you don't know yet. Just like everyone else.

4) The 24 Hours Before Your Interview

Feeling anxious? That’s normal. Your body is telling you you’re about to do something that matters.

The twenty-four hours before your onsite are about finding ways to maximize your performance. Ideally, you wanna be having one of those days, where elegant code flows effortlessly from your fingertips, and bugs dare not speak your name for fear you'll squash them.
You need to get your mind and body in The Zone™ before you interview, and we've got some simple suggestions to help.
5) Why You're Hitting Dead Ends In Whiteboard Interviews

The coding interview is like a maze

Listening vs. holding your train of thought

Finally! After a while of shooting in the dark and frantically fiddling with sample inputs on the whiteboard, you've came up with an algorithm for solving the coding question your interviewer gave you.
Whew. Such a relief to have a clear path forward. To not be flailing anymore.
Now you're cruising, getting ready to code up your solution.
When suddenly, your interviewer throws you a curve ball.
"What if we thought of the problem this way?"
You feel a tension we've all felt during the coding interview:
"Try to listen to what they're saying...but don't lose your train of thought...ugh, I can't do both!"
This is a make-or-break moment in the coding interview. And so many people get it wrong.
Most candidates end up only half understanding what their interviewer is saying. Because they're only half listening. Because they're desperately clinging to their train of thought.
And it's easy to see why. For many of us, completely losing track of what we're doing is one of our biggest coding interview fears. So we devote half of our mental energy to clinging to our train of thought.
To understand why that's so wrong, we need to understand the difference between what we see during the coding interview and what our interviewer sees.

The programming interview maze

Working on a coding interview question is like walking through a giant maze.
You don't know anything about the shape of the maze until you start wandering around it. You might know vaguely where the solution is, but you don't know how to get there.
As you wander through the maze, you might find a promising path (an approach, a way to break down the problem). You might follow that path for a bit.
Suddenly, your interviewer suggests a different path:
But from what you can see so far of the maze, your approach has already gotten you halfway there! Losing your place on your current path would mean a huge step backwards. Or so it seems.
That's why people hold onto their train of thought instead of listening to their interviewer. Because from what they can see, it looks like they're getting somewhere!
But here's the thing: your interviewer knows the whole maze. They've asked this question 100 times.

I'm not exaggerating: if you interview candidates for a year, you can easily end up asking the same question over 100 times.
So if your interviewer is suggesting a certain path, you can bet it leads to an answer.
And your seemingly great path? There's probably a dead end just ahead that you haven't seen yet:
Or it could just be a much longer route to a solution than you think it is. That actually happens pretty often—there's an answer there, but it's more complicated than you think.

Hitting a dead end is okay. Failing to listen is not.

Your interviewer probably won't fault you for going down the wrong path at first. They've seen really smart engineers do the same thing. They understand it's because you only have a partial view of the maze.
They might have let you go down the wrong path for a bit to see if you could keep your thinking organized without help. But now they want to rush you through the part where you discover the dead end and double back. Not because they don't believe you can manage it yourself. But because they want to make sure you have enough time to finish the question.
But here's something they will fault you for: failing to listen to them. Nobody wants to work with an engineer who doesn't listen.
So when you find yourself in that crucial coding interview moment, when you're torn between holding your train of thought and considering the idea your interviewer is suggesting...remember this:
Listening to your interviewer is the most important thing.
Take what they're saying and run with it. Think of the next steps that follow from what they're saying.
Even if it means completely leaving behind the path you were on. Trust the route your interviewer is pointing you down.
Because they can see the whole maze.
6) How To Get The Most Out Of Your Coding Interview Practice Sessions
When you start practicing for coding interviews, there’s a lot to cover. You’ll naturally wanna brush up on technical questions. But how you practice those questions will make a big difference in how well you’re prepared.
Here’re a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your practice sessions.
Track your weak spots
One of the hardest parts of practicing is knowing what to practice. Tracking what you struggle with helps answer that question.
So grab a fresh notebook. After each question, look back and ask yourself, “What did I get wrong about this problem at first?” Take the time to write down one or two things you got stuck on, and what helped you figure them out. Compare these notes to our tips for getting unstuck.
After each full practice session, read through your entire running list. Read it at the beginning of each practice session too. This’ll add a nice layer of rigor to your practice, so you’re really internalizing the lessons you’re learning.
Use an actual whiteboard
Coding on a whiteboard is awkward at first. You have to write out every single character, and you can’t easily insert or delete blocks of code.
Use your practice sessions to iron out that awkwardness. Run a few problems on a piece of paper or, if you can, a real whiteboard. A few helpful tips for handwriting code:

  • Start in the top-left corner. You want all the room you can get.
  • Leave blank space between each line of code. This makes it much easier to add things later.
  • Slow down. Take an extra second to think of descriptive variable names. You might be tempted to move faster by using short variable names, but that actually ends up costing more time. It’ll make your code harder to debug!
Set a timer
Get a feel for the time pressure of an actual interview. You should be able to finish a problem in 30–45 minutes, including debugging your code at the end.
If you’re just starting out and the timer adds too much stress, put this technique on the shelf. Add it in later as you start to get more comfortable with solving problems.
Think out loud
Like writing code on a whiteboard, this is an acquired skill. It feels awkward at first. But your interviewer will expect you to think out loud during the interview, so you gotta power through that awkwardness.
A good trick to get used to talking out loud: Grab a buddy. Another engineer would be great, but you can also do this with a non-technical friend.
Have your buddy sit in while you talk through a problem. Better yet—try loading up one of our questions on an iPad and giving that to your buddy to use as a script!
Set aside a specific time of day to practice.
Give yourself an hour each day to practice. Commit to practicing around the same time, like after you eat dinner. This helps you form a stickier habit of practicing.
Prefer small, daily doses of practice to doing big cram sessions every once in a while. Distributing your practice sessions helps you learn more with less time and effort in the long run.
part -2 will be upcoming in another post !
submitted by Cyberrockz to u/Cyberrockz

5

Clockwork (Part 1)

“I’m always late for everything. No one waits for a man like you, and for me no one waits ever.” That was Phil. “Take a nap. That's a good idea.”
“No one waits for you because you're not worth waiting for. If anyone waited for you they'd go back to what they were doing.” That was me. I sipped the water in my paper cup. “Is this water? It has a strange taste.”
“Rain water,” Phil choked.
“Toilet water?”
“We're too expendable to drink toilet water.”
“I don't imagine we should have to wait too long,” I said, primping my collar, looking down.
Then came my associate walking up even now. That was Thompson. I handed him a cup. He grabbed it and dashed it in the trash receptacle.
“Alright,” he shuffled his collar twice and rolled his shoulders, irritated, “I've waited long enough.”
“I don’t think I take orders from your mouth, sir,” I replied, sarcastically.
“The quota, the quota!” Thompson dashed papers from the desk next to him.
“Take your pills, Thompson, and let me bring to mind it was Casey and Marg and everyone else too, not just you and me...Thompson.” Phil joked at him.
“Boss is looking to me and you to make this happen. Now. Look.” Thompson slid a soft sheet of 22 point page on the desk in front of them, even before I got a word in.
“Let me see.” Phil looked intently. He seemed impressed. I skimmed the paper, showing a clear cut plan to meet our sales goal of two hundred subscription boxes of metal wall art. “Wow, am I going to have to have faith in you again?” Phil replied, with genuine respect. Thompson didn't change his face.
I raised my brow. “That seems good. But one flaw. One. The line about operations. Operations isn't good at pushing sales. Have the people from surveying do warm calls to suggest our new sale, and then have operations push sales three days later.”
Thompson twitched and thought. “What about the product deadline? We need something presentable by tomorrow.”
I replied, “Development will make a one day mockup before the warm calls. That is what the customers will see on our website. Then operations will be the ones to show them the final splash page with the more presentable product on it, three days from now.” I slapped my hand on the paper.
Thomson swallowed, breathed in, and sighed. “...That would work,” Thompson agreed.
Phil says, “In that case, I’ll ask my department to make displays to show the lower guys. Otherwise they might not follow.”
“Yeah,” Thompson said. Oh, Deborah.” Deborah, the head of operations, was just walking up now from her break. “I part the way to your call.”
“Oh look what a surprise,” said Phil. I smirked.
“Great news. I got our lunch increased to an hour and 20 minutes.” She said.
“Oh joy, now I can plan for that retirement getaway,” Phil replied. We broke into a thunder of laughter.
"This guy," Phil began, when later me and him were playing pool in my basement. He broke the triangle. “Crap, I'm breaking bad now. This *guy...*well, he uh, is just wreaking havok all over the place. No one gets it.”
“I've seen bits and pieces”. I replied. I took a shot and got the three ball. “A lot of it is just rumors.
“Call it what you will. It's very convincing.” Phil replied.
“Everything's convincing on Tv and twitter.”
“This one guy,” Phil continued, “just died--I mean it took him awhile but he just passed away... There are the crazy Revelation quirks saying it's the apocalypse or the judgement of God. Geez. I mean, in a way, I understand their logic.”
“Superheroes are among us…,” I replied smartly.
“ ‘Bout time,” Phil joked.
We play some more.
“How's the kid,” I asked him.
Phil replied, “Better, you know, Eli, better. I've really been making an attempt to make it to her games. What do you know I actually made it on time once. Twice.” He hit a ball.
“Makes all the difference, I mean you probably know that. Always remember when my dad finally made it to my Quizzer competition. I didn't think he'd be there, but there he was-- didn't change much between us, but you know, life stories.”
“That's one thing I don't get, Eli,” Phil replied matter of factly, staring at the wall behind me. “I mean--how the heck are you so timely. By God you could land a fly on your precision.”
“Oh my wife hates me for it. She always says I've got too much on my plate. Too boring.” I shrugged.
Phil laughed, “I was born with a bottle of booze in my hand, you, a watch.” He hit his last ball into the hole.


I stuffed a pinch of waffle fries into my mouth. And looked around. A man entered and stood across from me. “Mr. Laffe?”
I swallowed and stood up, and shook his hand. “Yes,” I smiled. Jam, the other guy, sat down and so did I.
“Nice to meet you.” I rubbed my hands on my handkerchief.
“Same,” replied Jam. “The food is so good here. I think I'll have to order something.” He picked up a menu and glanced it.
“About that opening -- Jam -- I don't usually say this, but I want to be upfront.”
The waitress came by. “Can I get you something?”
“Uh,” Jam glances. “I think I'll have a water and just a little biscuits and gravy.”
“Alright, I'll take those and be back shortly.”
“Thank you.”
“Thank you.” Jam answered back. He pressed down his pant legs. “I'll be upfront. It's a tricky job. In my opinion it's worth the effort, and I'll let you judge that.” He slipped a form from a folder next to him. “Use this.” He held up a small device. “This is the magnetic spotter you will use. Pressing this button leaves a magnetic mark on metal surfaces, for our crew to read later.”
“Right,” I followed.
“You need to mark the places where you find anything that could be used for a nuclear war. Anything. Any trace, any item.”
“I see.”
“You may need a weapon.” Pam looked at Eli. “Do you carry a gun?”
“I have one locked up. In case. I've always had it. Legal handgun.”
“It's up to you, as long as it works. You now have a license to defend, not attack. But you’ll be alright, you won't see many fronts. Keep your eyes open, report anything suspicious, keep your pay in mind.”
“What happens if I get caught,” I asked.
“Call us.” He eyed his phone.“874-339-0106”
“Wh--”
“Someone will be there immediately.” Pam answered my question before I could ask.
“...A CIA line, I presume,” I asked.
“Sure, for your purposes.” He replied.
We talked for a while more. Then, I went home and got on my computer. He looked up someone I knew from high school on facebook and clicked the message icon. I typed some words, deleted, typed some words, then exited. That will be relevant later.
Me and my family went up to the lake that weekend. We had planned this getaway for some time. It was me, my wife Conner, my daughter, and Conner’s brother Ross and his family. I had planned everything, and as such, made everything go right on time.
“Nicer than I thought,” teased Ross, driving up to the vacation cottage. Ross was a redneck who loved fishing, yet spent a lot of his time in Virginia when he grew up, so had a prominent properness to him as well. He had a new vest on every time I saw him. He and his son started transporting their junk, as I directed my daughter while she assisted us.
“Here miss, let me help you with that,” Ross said to Eli’s daughter, Sarah, grabbing his big cooler from her hands. They went in and set it down, and were done.
“Geez. What did you guys pack?” Sarah asked.
“Beers?” replied Riley, Ross’s girlfriend.
“For you and Mar?” I questioned her.
“Eli.” said his girlfriend Conner nonchalantly.
“Are you trying to make me throw away my promotion? I never drink.” He shook his head, as he grabbed a piece of luggage. “Not even on the week off.”
“It's one night, sweets.” Conner rolled her eyes.
“There's a reason I don't drink.”
“Let me tell you, this girl will give you a reason to,” Ross opened a bottle, and smiled, pressing it to his lips.
Riley threw a couch pillow at her husband.
“I tell you who's gonna make me -- wanna get drunk…” Eli said as he looked down at the bottles with his arms partly crossed. “This girl. This…,” he waved his hands toward his daughter, smirking. “Teenagers. They'll kill ya.”
“Dad!”
“Oh yeah.” Ross peeked at Riley and said, “Kids expire past age 5.” The adults laughed.
“So how's uh-- Shay doing,” inquired Conner. Shay is Ross’ teenage son. He was already out back looking out at the lake.
“Good as can be.”
That afternoon, Ross and Eli set up paddling boats. “Eli you wanna grab the uh --”
“Yetis?”
“Right. Heck, just bring my pack next to the door if you don't mind just in case we do hike a little.”
“Sure.” I replied and went to get the stuff, yelling to the kids that they were about to go. I grabbed my yeti and filled it, not paying attention to how full it was, but looked down when I heard the water start to splash over into the sink. Suddenly, something happened that I could never explain. I saw a vision play out in front of me, as if I was looking at a reflection of the ocean in that cup, so vast it was it filled my entire vision, and I saw something play out in the water: four people, two men, two women were staggering backwards, their shirts covered in blood as they fell to the ground. There seemed to be a crowd around them, with balloons and confetti surrounding them. It lasted only an instant. But in that moment, I saw an entire day unfold. It was over, there was the yeti, and I felt like I just went on a ten hour hike. I leaned over the sink, trying to catch my breath.
“Honey. Honey?” Conner had entered the kitchen and saw me over the sink. “Are you okay?”
“Yes...I’m fine.” I stood up.
After that we went on our little boating expedition, all of us except, Riley as she didn’t like the outdoors much. Funny, I thought, seeing as her man was all about that. Even though I went, my mind wasn’t there. I was thinking about what happened the entire time.
We arrived back at the cottage later that evening. As soon as I arrived, he glared into his yeti a few times with water in it. I am so stupid, I thought to himself. We were all tuckered out, me especially, so we all ended up going to sleep.
The next day, Ross was playing bad mitten with Sarah. I went out and sat.
"How'd you sleep?" I asked him.
Ross replied, "Good as can be expected."
I nodded. "So it's 12 now, the parade starts at 2:30, I was thinking we better get going soon."
"This daughter of yours has got a hand. Game might last longer than that."
"Seriously, we better go."
After a moment, Ross answered, "Well the parade was just a ‘maybe’ right. I mean--this is fun."
"Alright. I'm going," I muttered to himself. I wanted to see it.
I went in to wash my hands and get my clothes on.
"Honey! Guys look at this!" Riley suddenly called from the den. On the TV, there were police at the scene of where the parade started, and lines blocked off, people surrounding the scene with phones out, and the local news covering the event. Apparently, four people were shot--there was a shooting from a disgruntled government employee, professionals think.
"Oh no," said Ross.
Sarah came in with her earbuds in and her phone and eventually Shay too.
"Oh my god," said Sarah.
I stared bewildered at the TV. It was the event I saw happening.
"Oh God four people were shot. Oh God," Riley says.
Eli grabbed the remote and changed the channel.
"Hey Bro," said Ross, "what--what's the--"
"Dad what the f-!"
"Watch your mouth--" Eli shouted at his daughter.
"Something wrong--Eli?" Riley was worried.
"No. No," I whispered, inaudibly anyway. His hand twitched as he thought. Immediately he went to his phone and opened up a spiritual ebook that my friend from work gave me. I read some of it. And sat on the toilet and read some.
He couldn't find anything that related to seeing visions. But I looked intently. After I flushed and got up and turned around to close the lid, I looked into the toilet, and saw another vision. I just went to bed.
When I woke up, I was shivering. I went out of the room and looked around. Riley was in the kitchen rinsing something off in the sink.
"Oh Eli! You've been asleep for hours."
I rubbed his face. "Yeah."
"Everyone went to town to shop around."
"Oh. Ok."
There's a pause.
"Riley."
"Yeah?"
"Wh-- You and Ross are Scientologists right?"
'Not Ross, he doesn't -- care about that or just thinks it's over religious."
"What, ah are the fundamentals of scientology. I'm kind of interested."
She told me about her beliefs for a few minutes.
"What got you interested?" She inquired.
I paused for a moment. " I don't know."
It was in the afternoon when my family and Ross’ came back from their excursion.
"Hey Dad, look," Sarah held out something for me to see from her day out, which I didn’t look at.
"Ah nice." I replied with utter enthusiasm.
"What are you doing?" Sarah glanced over my shoulder.
"Typing."
She came closer and looked at my laptop intently as the others dispersed.
"Scientology?" She spelled out.
"What do you know about that," I teased tauntingly, not looking up.
"Heard about it."
Riley and Conner made a spectacular summer dinner for that night and we went outside to picnic. It was dusk, and the stars were beginning to be visible as the sky darkened. Ross also grilled up some of his irresistible shrimp and steak shish kabobs. We sat on benches and around a table, eating corn on the cob, as I mixed some margaritas at a setup outside, and we all enjoyed the view of the shimmering lake in front of us.
"Beautiful night isn't it," Ross said to Riley.
I yelled at my daughter, "Get off your phone! Gosh child look at the sky, it's amazing!"
She put down her phone and took a bite of corn on the cob.
I had my ipad in hand, still looking into my new obsession.
"Honey, what's so intriguing?" Riley asked.
"Ah." I shook my head. "Nothing now." I closed it up, pushed it aside and stood next to Ross, drink in hand.
"What are we doing?" I asked.
"Just watching the sunset."
"Beautiful."
Shay sat across from Hannah.
“How old are you? I forgot,” he asked.
“13.” She looked up.
“I'm 15. That's cool though. You're pretty cool.”
“Yeah.”
He nodded to himself. They talked some more and found they had some in common. They went inside and talked. He got a beer.
“Hey you're not supposed to get that,” Hannah said loudly.
“Shut up! God.” And she did.
They talked and Shay tried to make a move on Hannah, but she said, “Hey no bro. I'm gay.”
“You're gay!?”
“Yeah. Are you homo or whatever?”
“No, but oh my god I can't believe you're gay. Like a lesbian. Wow.”
She blushed.” I mean we can still be friends and stuff.”
“Dang. I wanted to like fuck you. But yeah I guess you're like not cool with that.”
She looked down. “Dang. I'm only thirteen.”
“Don't tell you mom and dad.”
She didn't say anything.
“My parents don't want me to have sex.”
“It's okay. You're cool.”
Before long Ross began telling one of his fish stories.
“Give me a break,” I laughed.
“No really, he was big as this table!”
The sun was just moving below the far horizon. “Tell them about your promotion, hun,” said Riley looking my way. Right. That promotion. I thought back to my meeting with Jam in the diner. I felt bad that I still hadn’t told my wife about this “special job” that I had taken up. We really needed some extra money. I looked over and spun the pink liquor around in my glass.
“I have Steve’s job now, I am over production,” That wasn’t a lie.
“Hell, Eli,” said Ross.
“Yeah...it takes a lot out of you but it’s a great position. Best part is the free benefits. Free uh, doctor and house insurance. Life insurance.”
Ah.”
“It’s great. Great, Ross.” I replied. I put the glass to my mouth, but then jerked it away, remembering it was alcohol.
“Yeah.” Ross took a drink. “The job. The position is what matters.” Ross licked his teeth. “That’s it, my man.


The next day we packed up and went home. Then, back on Monday, back to work.
“There's no way we're going to be able to get this out in time,” Phil said worried.
I looked at the charts. It was good, it was executable. I have no idea what happened.
“We have to think of something new now,” Phil said again.
I shook my head. “There’s nothing. We’re out of time.”
“What about Samantha from Operations,” Phil replied randomly.
“What about her?”
“Remember when we had that luncheon and Tim told that joke about Starbucks and macaroni salad?”
“I think so,” I blinked.
She started going on a rant about how everything we sell is ruined by the value of our partners, who sell our subscription boxes, ya know, in bundles with other cheap junk.
I looked at him, bidding him to continue.
“Then Jim, Jim was it, broke in and said that the little flotsam that the other companies sell with our stuff actually sells some of the things we make that wouldn’t sell anyway.”
“Okay.”
“He said,” Phil continued, “how a lot of times the little junk they add on increases perceived value. We need to add something to what we’re selling. Something easy, cheap--
And then profits of the boosted price will make up for lost time.”
I shook my head. “That won’t get past our boss--” I stopped midsentence, remembering one of the visions I had before. It was a really ridiculous one.
Phil finished his monologue as I came back to reality, and shook his head, “That’s my idea--”
“Shh!”
“What?”
“I know how to get this approved by Thompson.”
At home: I slapped mail on the table next to our kitchen.
“Hey honey. How was your day,” Riley asked as I came in the dining room.
“You know, it was a day,” I said.
“What are you off to now?”.
“Sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep. I’m exhausted.”
She pulled down a glass of wine from a cabinet above her, “I had ideas.”
Eli put his head down and chuckled. Looks like I might have regrets if I don’t change my mind.
He took a glass of wine and poured it and handed it to his wife. Then he poured one for himself and sipped. Wine is the only liquor I drink. On occasion.
“Any nasty clients?” I asked her.
“This one guy, she forked her fingers through her hair and exhaled. New guy. Bob. Has an aversion of green beans. Terror practically.”
“Green Beans?” I said unbelieving.
“God yes.”
“What happened, did his-- did his mother’s cooking kill someone in his family or, or--”
“He hasn’t told me but whatever it is--” she sipped “--wow. I might pass him on, I don’t know.”
“Whatever you do, make sure you take care of yourself. I mean I wish I had more time for you and Sarah. Work has been really demanding.”
My phone vibrated. I took it out of his pocket and looked at it.
Seeing the look on his face, my wife asked, “Something happen?”
“No, just. Just more work.” I rolled his eyes but swallowed. She noticed me swallow.
After a little pause she said, “You don’t have to hide anything honey. I am a therapist.”
I smiled and drank, “Makes it a pain in the arse to keep secrets.”
She laughed nervously.
We drank a bit more. “One thing I don’t get with people. People. He said. People don’t ever, ever like to keep things in place. Schedules, appointments, people are so wishy washy and blow over it annoys-- the living shits out of me. That’s why I married you, Mar. You at least have a mind to follow a straight path.”
After that, II went to go take a bath. I drew the water and got in, sat down, and closed my eyes. After a little, I looked at my phone at the reminder to be out at 4am to do the marking job. I leaned back in the bathtub and exhaled. And when I looked down at the water, I saw another vision. I immediately got out of the bathtub and thew up in the toilet.
“Are you alright honey?” Mar asked.
I said yes, and managed to get up from the toilet. Then I went to bed.
At 4 my alarm went off. I couldn’t get up. But I did. I pushed back the covers and put on my inconspicuous uniform and went to the location I was scheduled for. It was a warehouse on the southside of town, several miles from the nearest building in a bare location with not many trees around. It took an hour to arrive there. As soon as I arrived, I sent a text out and waited for a reply. Receiving an OK, I took the marker tool from the arm rest. I looked at it, turning it around; what in the world was I doing with this thing again? When I stepped out my vehicle, I simply shuffled through the front gate like, anyone who normally works at that abandoned warehouse. Just scanned my tag, then went in to a section in the back left.
My job was to walk through the whole building and scan what I thought would be suspicious. I had no idea what I was looking for. I just walked around and scanned, walked around and scanned, running into other guards and people along the way. But that was okay. Pam told me that would happen--Eli was just another employee, no alarm. The second floor was a swinging platform hanging by terraced metal beams--thankfully I’m afraid of heights at all. When I was nine, me and my family moved to Nevada near the Rockies, and my brother and I frequently went to the rim of many jagged cliffs. Over time the nerve wracking feeling of being hundreds of feet above the ground below vanished. I hoped it would be the same with this job, because I swore I was being watched by cameras everywhere. My ridged boots clanked on the floor, and I took a bit of time to take in that I was alone, not something I liked to do much, or rather cared for, but now it seemed like a relief and felt like a time to think. Think about what. God. What the heck was I doing? I couldn’t think about that though. It was “ridiculous,” I said the word outloud to myself, literally. I exhaled. I rubbed my eyes, and went back to daydreaming again... Steadily I walked, glazy eye, glancing back and forth around my perimeter. Hannah did deserve more of my time, I felt bad about that. She had a dance meetup recently...ah I forgot something. Yes definitely. I had a notion to look at my calendar to see what it was but knew now wasn’t the time. I was falling asleep! I felt it. I breathed in deep and stood up a little straighter. The randomly, I thought of Riley. I shook my head. Riley. What. She was attractive. I nearly tripped over a cannister. It made a bit of a noise. Still there was no one around. I looked at the barrels and rubbed my hand around the side. Nothing. I was at a corner now so I just kept following the hanging terrace around the corner, seeing it went up another floor, I picked up my step a bit and ascended. Up here there were cardboard boxes, nearly covering the entire floor. I glanced around. I supposed I should check them all...or perhaps they all contained the same thing. I opened one and it was filled with flasks covered with metallic paper. He peeled back some of the paper and inside was nothing. I shuffled through the contents and came across some packs, also metallic on the outside. There was black system text on the front and back like the font for “Expires on” you see on food packaging. It had technical information about corrosive chemicals. Looking around, I saw a metal pole. I quickly put a mark on the pole and closed up the box. At the end of the day, I checked out and texted Pam when I was done.
"So I told him we’d be in touch," Pam said that sitting across from his boss at that same diner he met me at.
"Okay." His boss took a bite. "How ‘qualified’ is he, for lack of a better word."
"He fits. Compared to our other guys he's good,” Pam replied to his boss.
"Okay." The guy across from Pam was younger man, Asian. He swiveled his fork around in his food and took another bite.
"What." Pam could see his thoughts.
"We have no time for okay men. And our pool of optimal candidates is incredibly small. You know the importance of this work, so I won’t push my point. But always keep the bigger picture in mind."
Pam looked down at his food. He nodded his head. "I will continue to choose the best men and women I see fit. I will," he assured.
"Another thing." This boss took out a phone and held it up. "We’re going to be using these to mark. App is installed, hardware is built into the phone."
Pam held it and looked at it.
He snubbed his nose. "What’s the improvement? It’s bigger. It’s a phone. Sure it’s less conspicuous than the flashlight we were using," he said sarcastically. "But it’s more luggage. So…"
"I don’t know, I just follow orders," The boss said. But he did know. Suddenly he asked, “What’s this guy’s motivation?”
Pam saw this question coming. “I don’t know. But if I put my money on it....he’s running out of money.”
“Rich life has a lot to keep up with.”
“That or he has a large outstanding debt that’s coming due. Haven’t asked outright. I’m sure such a heavy motivation wouldn’t be good for his work at all,” he said with a touch of sarcasm that almost went unseen.
“His position may be in danger.” the boss replied.
“Could be.” It was a good point, perhaps.
The boss got up to leave.
Pam got up and sat down next to Eli who was at the bar.
“I feel like he knew I was right here.” I said, my voice cracking.
“There’s a good chance.”
I looked down. “I’m not going to work for you if there’s some kind of bull going on, point blank. Keep the cards on the table, please, is all I ask.”
“Believe me, I want to do that as much as you. I will ask much as I’m allowed.”
I nodded.
“You did just what we were looking for, I’m very happy with the results we got, and that interesting box you found. It’s not anything but it could lead to something.”
“What does the government want to use this information for.”
“Peace efforts, specifically keeping peace in Europe between Bolivia and that uprising. Watching out for immigrants mostly.”
“Peace with the threat of war. Typical Government strategy, eh.” It was a statement really. “What do you think your… boss thinks of me. I mean--” I stopped, thinking it was kind of obvious.
“With him, you have to let it be for a while. Can’t be so sure. But um, I’ve emailed you your next spot.” Pam looked at me as if to ask if I check my email.
“Alright.” I replied.
“Alright then. You stay safe and enjoy your day.” Pam smiled, shook my hand, and got up.
“Take these papers too--I almost forgot, dang it.” He reached into the folder he brought in with him and removed a packet of papers. “I emailed you the spot too, but I’m giving you a physical copy. This is the -- here let me just,” he set the packet down and I looked. “The layout of this next gig is different. There are a few rooms you will have to avoid at all costs. These I highlighted red.”
I stared in Pam confused.
"Reason being-- they’ve got eyes,” was his reply.
“Okay.” I replied concerned.
“You can trace around here, and here, and go around.” He also showed me the entrances of the rooms I should avoid. "If anything happens--just--call.”
“Ok.”
I left, and before I left, turned back, and looked at Pam. I whispered,
“What about my family. If anything happened to me, would my family be ok?”
Pam, looked away for a moment. “This is an important job and as you know there’s a risk here. I’m confident we will fight, legally, for you and your family were anything to happen. Were something bad, physical to happen...we’ll make sure nothing happens. Again, just call me about anything, Mr. Laffe.”
Then I nodded in finality, and left. But in the back of my head I knew my family wouldn’t be safe. And I wasn’t safe in this job. Yet I also knew I was in this for good until the war between Russian and Bolivia ended.
submitted by Few_Acanthisitta_604 to stories