The important thing about a problem is not its solution, but the strength we gain in finding the solution. —Seneca the Younger
Over the past few months, I’ve developed a different mindset towards solving problems for technical interviews, as well as for my classes.
I used to be intimidated by technical interviews because I was afraid that I would get a problem that completely stumped me. That changed, however, after I talked to a friend of mine who had an entirely different attitude towards technical interviews. He explained that he actually enjoys interviews because he likes answering good questions. Answering things he already knows isn’t as interesting. When he explained it like that, it made complete sense.
Since then, I have started approaching interviews with an “I’m here to solve cool problems” attitude instead of a “please show some mercy on me” attitude. By thinking of technical interviews as opportunities to improve my problem-solving skills, I am able to reduce the amount of stress and worry that I bring into my interviews.
To be completely honest, I have had my fair share of unsuccessful interviews. And sure, it doesn’t feel great to get turned away by companies. However, I’m happy to say that I did come out of those interviews having learned something new, for example, a new way of looking at problems. Simply spending time thinking about those more challenging problems helped expand the way I think.
I’m currently taking a class on algorithms, and some of the problem sets are quite challenging for me. Rather than get frustrated by the amount of time I spend thinking about the material, I simply acknowledge that the most meaningful problems are often ones that require more time to mull over. After all, (almost) nothing builds character better than struggling through a problem.