I have an interview soon, and they notified me that I would be speaking with a developer about the online coding problem I solved before (as my first screening). I didn't get 100% on that, but I figured out a much better way of implementing it (I think it's perfect now). I was debating whether to tell the developer that I thought about it beforehand and figured out a new solution, or to have him ask me, pretend I'm thinking, then say my new solution like I just thought of it. Would this make a difference?

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    Retitled and dropped your second question. Please stick to one core question per post. Search the site for posts related to your second question as I think that's been brought up before. – Lilienthal Mar 24 '16 at 8:26
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    don't try and be too clever – Kilisi Mar 24 '16 at 9:01
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    You should just mention it up front in the interview "About the coding exercise. After submitting my solution, I realized there was a much better way of solving it..." something like that. Then he can either ask about that, or move on to something else. – Brandin Mar 24 '16 at 9:11
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    Keep in mind: downvotes on meta indicate disagreement with the suggested action. On the main site usefulness and clarity are better indicators. OP's initial instinct may be wrong but isn't that why we ask questions? – Lilienthal Mar 24 '16 at 13:52

Should I pretend that I thought of the new solution on the spot?

No. It's a form of lying and even if you don't consider that a huge deal (it is in the workplace), this particular lie is easy to give away in the follow-up conversation. It's also much, much better to be seen as having thought more on your initial solution after the first screen, recognised that it wasn't perfect and have figured out a much better implementation.

The fact that you'll specifically be discussing that problem means that they probably wanted you to do exactly this. They want to see if you'd consider the problem further when the time constraint was dropped and see if you're able to improve on it. And why would you think that pretending like you haven't even thought about it is a good thing, when they told you they'd revisit it?

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Let's pretend you're a master plumber and you're interviewing a novice plumber. You know beforehand this novice took a test and you reviewed his solution and found he used a o-ring instead of a washer to fix a leaking pipe. You thought of all these questions and you enter the interview. At the interview you ask him, "So why did you use a o-ring?" And he sits there staring up in the sky pondering long and hard and suddenly said, "I came up with it all by my lonesome self and thought it was a great solution but I don't understand why you'd use a washer."

Would you feel you want to be around someone like that?

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    I'm not sure the analogy is entirely on track. – AndreiROM Mar 24 '16 at 15:47
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    I get where you were going to say but, It doesn't make much sense after "So why did you use an o-ring?", could you edit it? +1 – Kyle Mar 24 '16 at 17:55

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