Bombing My First Technical Interview

2 minute read

Starting 2020 with a rejection.

It was my first ever technical phone interview for the role of a software engineering internship. That too scheduled with Apple, Cupertino.

The first round was scheduled a few days after my fifth-semester exams. For that, I was doing LeetCode day and night and got the subscription to only focus on questions from Apple. I cleared the first coding round, which was a question similar to a level of LeetCode Medium.

A few hours later, I got the confirmation that I would proceed to the second and the final round. At this point, I had done hundreds of LeetCode easy and few dozes of LeetCode medium. I wasn’t prepared for a LeetCode hard, so I tried to schedule the interview a week later.

The interviewer started with a basic fundamental data structure question that I didn’t expect at all. A data structure I forgot to revise. I was like, I was expecting some LeetCode Medium level question, what is this? Somehow told him the correct approach and partially coded it.

I knew I bombed this one.

After the interview, I was just cursing myself for wasting the time of the Apple engineer, the recruiter, the coordinator, and the person who referred me. The feeling is hard to express in words. I worked so hard on my technical skills, practiced so hundreds of questions on LeetCode, gave my everything into it.

I got the rejection a few days later, and I still remember those words from the mail -

Unfortunately, we will not be moving forward in the interview process, but we encourage you to apply to future opportunities for which you qualify.

What Went Wrong?

I made one major mistake. When I knew that this is my first set of interviews, I should have practiced a LOT of mock real-time interviews.

And I didn’t do a single one.

I had no experience of how to interview, how to code in the live coding round, how to explain your thought process, and come up with the solution under 45 minutes. All of this requires a decent amount of practice and cannot be done while leisurely solving questions in your own time.

Another mistake I regret committing was — Apple or nothing. Thinking it was the end of the world if I fail the interview, which mounted an immense amount of pressure to perform flawlessly in the interview.

Lesson Learned

It’s okay to fail an interview. Or even bombing it, for that matter. Having an abundance mindset helped me later in the next set of interviews.

I learned from these mistakes and interviewed with another team at Apple three months later. I got the offer and finished the internship successfully last month.