Technical interviews can prove a stressful affair: You’re never quite sure what the interviewer is going to ask beforehand, and whether you’ll be able to solve the offered problems.
Sure, you can ask the interviewer ahead of time whether you’ll face a whiteboard test, a coding challenge, or some sort of app-building nightmare; you can also find out whether the interview is a one-on-one or group affair. Whatever research you can do beforehand, however, the technical questions are often opaque right until you step into the room.
There’s been a lot written about what to do if the question is a real stumper (work through examples, ask questions, don’t give up, etc.), but what do you do if the question is one you’ve seen before?
Yes, the obvious response is “Answer it.” But when confronted by a technical question to which they already know the answer, many interviewees make the mistake of jotting down the solution and calling it a day, or breezing through the logic without really explaining what they’re doing. Either path is a mistake; the interviewer is always interested in seeing how you actually work through problems.
Instead, tell the interviewer that you’ve seen the question before, and that you already know the answer. He or she will either give you a new question, or ask you to show how you’d work through the current one. Either way, you’re going to demonstrate how your mind works. Most importantly: Don’t fake a struggle with a question to which you already know the answer, as the interviewer’s surely seen that sort of thing many times before.