The PREP Method: A Framework for Successful Technical Interviews
When it comes to technical interviews, it's not just about knowing how to code – it's also about being able to break down complex problems and come up with solutions on the spot. That's where the PREP method comes in. This method can help you tackle technical problems in a structured and organized way, which will not only impress your interviewer but also increase your chances of getting the job.
So what is the PREP method, exactly? It's an acronym that stands for Parameters, Returns, Examples, and Pseudocode. Let's break down each step of the PREP method using an example of a common coding problem.
Problem: Write a function that takes in an array of integers and returns the sum of all even numbers in the array.
Parameters: The first step in the PREP method is to identify the parameters of the problem. In this case, the function takes in an array of integers and returns the sum of all even numbers in the array.
Returns: The second step is to identify what the function should return. In this case, the function should return the sum of all even numbers in the array.
Examples: The third step is to provide examples of how you would solve the problem. This can involve breaking the problem down into smaller steps and explaining your thought process along the way. For example, you might say "First, I'll initialize a variable called 'total' to 0. Then, I'll loop through each integer in the array. If the integer is even, I'll add it to the total. Finally, I'll return the total."
Pseudo code: The final step is to write out pseudo code that breaks the problem down into smaller steps. This can help you better understand the problem and come up with a solution. For example:
As a new software engineer, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged when faced with a technical problem you've never seen before. I used to freeze up in these situations, but using the PREP method has helped me approach these challenges with more confidence and clarity. By breaking down the problem into smaller steps and thinking through parameters, returns, examples, and pseudocode, I'm able to approach technical problems in a more systematic and structured way. For example, I recently encountered a complex problem during a coding challenge that I had no idea how to approach at first. But by using the PREP method, I was able to break it down into manageable steps and ultimately solve the problem. I highly recommend giving the PREP method a try to anyone looking to improve their problem-solving skills as a new software engineer.