Why I failed my technical interview at Goldman Sachs

I, being an alumnus of a Tier 3 college was ecstatic when I received a mail from a recruiter at Goldman Sachs regarding the shortlisting of my profile for Java developer. As the process progressed, I received a call from the recruiter that every round is an elimination round and the first round is a Hackerank test and can be done over the weekend as per my comfort.

The Hackerank test

The Hackerank test had two questions on DSA that had to be done in under two hours, each question had ten test cases to verify the accuracy of the solution. The test was somewhat easy as I was already working on my DSA on Leetcode for quite some time and that is why I completed that in under an hour.

Following the successful test, I was already somewhat certain that I will be shortlisted for the next round so I started preparing for company-specific questions on Leetcode.

After a week ( since GS has a very slow process ), I get a mail that I have cleared the test and my profile is being shortlisted by a hiring manager and I will be getting a call in a couple of days.

The Telephonic interview/Coderpad round

After a couple of days, I get a mail from GS asking for my availability for the Coderpad round, I wanted a couple more days to prepare so I requested a week for preparation and the request was approved.

I was also told that the difficulty level of questions will be easy to medium as there will be two questions to be solved in under an hour, which basically means that the difficulty will be increased and time duration will be decreased compared to the Hackerank test.

On the day of the interview, I felt confident with my DSA skills prior to the start of the interview.

As the interview started I was presented with the first question, which to my surprise wasn’t a straightforward DSA question that I was expecting, the question was to debug a code piece as per the requirement, seeing something that I wasn’t expecting I panicked and didn’t read the requirements clearly because of which I ended up wasting 27 minutes of the interview (Yes, I clearly remember the clock striking 12: 27 ). Due to a shortage of time for the second question which was supposed to be the “medium” difficulty question, the interviewer asked me if we could move on to the second question and that we can come back to this if we’ll have enough time left, to which I agreed.

The second question was the question that I was fully prepared for and knew the most optimal O(n) time and O(n) space approach. I took a sigh of relief since I knew that I could solve this question in 5 minutes and started coding the solution, MAJOR MISTAKE, interviewer had to stop me in middle to ask me for the approach that I am taking and if that is the correct way to solve the question.

I told him the approach but I knew it was too late, I moved on to solve the problem and all the test cases passed. Now, I had only 10 minutes left to solve the first problem which was too little to debug the code and pass all the test cases, finally, I ended up passing four out of 9 test cases.

From what I could understand, I ended up making three mistakes in the interview

  1. Not doing proper research to understand what kind of questions are being asked at what level. I ended up assuming that I will be asked DSA only since that is what gets asked the most.
  2. Panicking and not reading the problem statement correctly wasted 27 minutes ( half ) of the interview.
  3. Jumping on to solve the question without letting the interviewer understand your thought process and approach to solve the question.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store