Preparing for programming interviews at the top tech companies

Here are some interview tips for programmers who are trying to get a foot in the door at top tech companies from a former Google employee.

In all software development job interviews, you will be asked to code. You won't get a computer, just a whiteboard and a set of coding questions, according to Gayle Laakmann McDowell, who worked in Google engineering for three years and served on the hiring committee for over 120 candidates.

In her book, The Google Resume, McDowell breaks down programmer interviewing trends for the top tech companies:

Google: Tends to emphasize questions on scalability. Questions on bit manipulation are quite common. Amazon: Loves object-oriented questions. Microsoft: All over the map but, interestingly, if you don't list C and C++ on your resume you don't have anything to fear. But if you do note them, you'd better be comfortable in coding in them. And, McDowell notes, Microsoft tends to emphasize testing and design skills more than other companies. Apple: Make sure you understand Apple's products since they really want you to be a die-hard fan. If you offer suggestions for improving existing products, give a lot of thought to why those suggestions haven't already been done.

By Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.