How tough is it to prepare for your technical interview?
A short answer is “You don’t really need to do anything special for an IT job interview besides what you would normally do for any other job interview.”
However, it is important that you do some homework before going to that technical interview. Below are some tips to help you ace your next interview.
1. Prepare thoroughly.
This goes without saying, but make sure you have all of the information you need to answer questions and demonstrate your understanding of the topic. Be prepared to answer questions about your experience working with the technology in question, as well as any specific questions related to the job you are applying for.
Many times interviewees put points in their resume which they have never worked on. While this makes your resume stand out, this also opens up door to attract more questions. So, if you have these never worked on points, either remove them or prepare effectively that you should be able to talk through all the finer details mentioned in your resume.
Take help of your friend or family member to do a mock interview. If possible, record your mock interview so you can review it afterward, and see how confidently you’re sharing your experience and skills.
Pro Tip: Practice on the whiteboard and be prepared ahead of the interview. It can often make a big difference to those who are nervous during the interview.
Let’s talk about some commonly asked questions:
How much preparation do I need for technical interview?
It depends! If you are preparing for interviews for big technology companies, eg MAANG (Meta, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google), you need excessive preparation. The interview process is grueling and the preparation process is well documented on the internet. But for all other companies, where the process is not as difficult, make sure to brush up your technical skills.
Chances are you will not be asked syntax, but make sure you have the basics covered. Important baseline topics could be OOPS, SOLID concepts, Database design, any technical framework you have used. Make sure you have good notes and refer them before your interview.
If you are just starting out your technical career, practice coding problems everyday and classify them into patterns. Freecodecamp.org has a lot of coding exercises and tutorials that you can practice from.
I have 0 technical experience. How and where do I start?
This is a common question for anyone just starting their career. It is okay to not have real time experience. Rely on your internship experience if you have any. If you don’t have that experience, dig deeper and go back in time to your college classes and coursework. Do a quick refresher on that.
Most importantly create a Github profile, practice and upload your code there. This will improve your coding skills. Also, this shows to the interviewer that you are putting in extra efforts from your side to get your foot in the door.
Finally, certifications are another way to not only gain quick skills but also validate them. It makes your resume look more attractive. Check out the ReviewNPrep Marketplace for certification courses.
How important are the soft skills for a technical interview?
Extremely important! Technology changes at a very rapid pace. Let’s be honest, there are a very few individuals who have extensive technical knowledge on all the relevant topics. Your soft skills can come to the rescue to cover for your missing technical skills. Behavioral questions are as important to prepare for as technical interview questions.
Related blog: Soft skills needed to succeed in IT.
2. Dress professionally and be on time.
Regardless of a virtual or in-person interview, make sure your clothing and accessories match the professional image you want to project. This includes wearing appropriate shoes and having clean hair and nails.
While it’s not necessary to wear a suit or dress all the time, it is important to put together a presentation that shows you are serious about your career opportunity. Dressing up could help you be mentally prepared for the interview.
Keep your arrival time flexible, but be sure to arrive on time for the interview – this shows that you are organized and have a good sense of timing.
If you are interviewing virtually, do a quick internet check before the interview.
What if my internet connection is unstable for virtual interview?
It is always a good idea to bring this up before the start of the interview. Clearly mention to the interviewers that your internet connection is unstable, exchange phone numbers so that you can dial in if needed. You can also send your interviewers an email before the interview to set expectations.
Some companies are experimenting with asynchronous video interviewing which is a great way to evaluate candidates without the need for a real-time connection. Asynchronous video interviewing involves the candidate recording their answers to pre-set questions and submitting it for the hiring team to review. This way, candidates can record their answers at their own convenience and the hiring team can review the responses at their own time as well. Check with the interviewer if this option is available.
3. Be organized and be prepared for questions.
Believe it or not, most technical interviews are predictable. The interviewer relies on your resume for most part to gauge how good you are. So, make sure you have looked at your resume carefully. You can come up with potential questions yourself based on your resume content.
It’s helpful if you have a plan for how you will respond to questions so that you don’t get caught off-guard by difficult questions or ones that you don’t know the answer to.
Some questions can be difficult to answer without practice, so it’s helpful to rehearse them until you are comfortable with them. This will also help you avoid making any mistakes when the real interview comes around.
Let’s discuss some scenarios that you might encounter.
What if I do not know the answer to a technical interview question?
First of all, get some clarity to understand the question. It could be that you have worked on something similar. However, if you are truly stumped by the question, be honest and open about it. Admit that you do not know the answer. Follow up with, “You’d like to learn more about it after the interview is over”. This shows professionalism and that you are open to learning new things on your own time.
How much time should I take to answer a question?
There is no set time limit for an answer. The actual time could vary based on question, specially on the behavior related questions. However, do not go into tangents answering the technical questions. Stick to the problem statement and the answer that you implemented. If it is a coding interview, it would be very direct. You are given a problem and you code the answer.
For behavior related questions follow the STAR method:
4. Be yourself and communicate effectively.
No matter what kind of interview you are going through, it’s important to be yourself and not try to imitate someone else. This will show that you are confident and knowledgable about the position you are applying for, and that you aren’t trying to make a false impression.
Recruiters, tech companies, and other stakeholders are interested in your problem-solving skills, more so than your programming know-how. So, it is extremely important that you work on your communication skills.
Below questions often comes up:
What if I have an accent when I speak in job interview?
That’s the last thing you should be worried about. If a company judges you for your accent, probably not the company you’d want to work for. As long as you are able to articulate what you want to say, clearly and precisely, you should be good.
How do I prepare for situational questions?
Chances are the interviewer will ask you open-ended questions, which can then lead to more questions.
A common way to prepare for situational questions could be to reflect on your existing project. Think about all the times you were involved in solving a complex problem or issue. Write down those stories and adjust them according to the questions asked. If you work in agile environment, think about your Sprint Retro’s and what stories you can borrow from there.
5. Bring questions for the interviewer.
A good way to show that you are genuinely interested in the position is to bring questions for the interviewer – this will show that you have done your research and are prepared to ask thoughtful questions.
Remember to read the job description and familiarize at a high level what the ask is. Your interview preparation should involve some research about the company. Based on this, ask relevant questions.
Some common questions to ask the hiring manager may be:
– What is the day-to-day job like?
– Can you tell me more about the position and skills you are looking for?
– What are the growth opportunities in the company?
– How would you define your company culture?
These questions can help you gauge if the job is the best fit for you and also give you an opportunity to showcase how you can apply your skills to the job. This would also tell you if you are a good culture fit or not. It is also important to share accomplishments relevant to the answers from the questions you asked.
Pro Tip: Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, and review sites like Glassdoor are valuable sources of information about your potential company. Some of them have detailed notes of the technical interview process.
A career in tech can be very rewarding if you have the right job. Don’t rush into accepting just about any offer. On the flip side, it is important to that you do not get discouraged if you are not able to crack the first interview. Practice what you don’t know and fine tune what you already know.
Take copious notes during the interview, so that you can reflect on what you learned and apply it to future interviews. Remember that during the interview you are selling your skills. So, emphasize on your current skills and how you can make a difference in the job.
Finally, take a deep breath and go crack that interview. You are ready!!
Further Reading: 10 expert tips for passing any certification exam.
Further Reading: Cloud Interview Questions