Technical interviews are unlike any other job interviews – it’s a rigorous, specialized process that not only tests your problem-solving skills and coding abilities, but also assesses your personality and how you’ll perform when it comes to tight deadlines.
Sara Kassabian, Content Editor at GitLab, in one of her recent articles for the company, writes:
“Prospective engineers often face a challenge when it comes to preparing for the technical interview, largely because there is no playbook for how companies set them up technical. It’s unclear whether to prepare by memorizing many different topics, or focusing on specific projects. There are an overwhelming number of resources available online, but with little clarity as to what the standard is for a technical interview and little guidance from the company on what to expect, most of the time engineers start technical interviews in the dark.”
Even as acing technical interviews is difficult, it gets a lot easier when you know how to prepare for, and move about the interview process.
In this piece, we share a few simple tips that can show you how to ace your technical interview and increase your chances of getting hired by the employer of your choice!
Tips on How to Ace Your Technical Interview
1) Practice the Types of Interview Questions You May Face
As a candidate with some experience, you already know that there are a wide variety of questions that an interviewer can ask you during a technical interview – it’s not just code and whiteboards.
To increase your chances of acing your interview and bagging that job opening you’ve been eyeing, you need to be able to answer questions that pertain to both you soft and hard skills.
Vicky Oliver, a leading career development expert and the multi best-selling author of five books, in one of her recent articles for Harvard Business Review, explains why it is important to prepare for an interview in advance:
“To make a winning impression, you’ll need to answer each question with poise and passion. But practicing first really helps. Meticulous preparation will allow you to appear confident and in control, helping position you as the ideal candidate when the competition is tough.”
A few important question types you should be looking at polishing are:
- Behavioral questions – The questions that fall under this category are aimed at observing how you’ve reacted to a particular workplace situation in the past. More often than not, these questions are based on the real life situations you’ve encountered. (For example: Tell me about a time when you handled a challenging situation well?)
- Situational questions – These technical interview questions deal with hypothetical scenarios in the future that will help the interviewer judge what you might do/how you will react in that specific situation. (For example: What would you do if you were unsure about the direction or goals of a coding task?)
- Education questions – Sometimes, you may be asked interview questions that evaluate your education background, including if and where you went to pursue your degree, or if you’re self taught, how you taught yourself, etc.
- Technical questions – Technical interview questions that evaluate your real skills and prowess are the heart of any tech interview. These can either be trivia-type questions (For example: How do you ensure that your code is both safe and fast?), or situation-specific questions about the code you write on the whiteboard during the interview itself.
Apart from these four categories, there can be many others such as – questions pertaining to your background, questions to assess your leadership skills, client communication, etc. It all depends on the organization you’re interviewing at, and how detailed their interviewing process is.
2) Tailor Your Answers to Make them Company-Specific
Even if you’ve got plenty of technical interviews lined up, tailoring your answers each time to meet the unique requirements of a particular job position will take you a long way. This is especially true because every hiring manager likes answers that resonate with the values of their organization.
If you’ve done your research on the organization and spent enough time getting better at Step #1, tailoring your answers before any technical interview won’t be as difficult for you.
Your preferred work environment should closely align with that of the company’s culture.
For instance, you may have read on the organization’s website that they have a flat company structure, or that they prioritize autonomy and collaboration. Take note of these key words and include them in your answers to the interviewer’s questions.
“When a candidate answers the interview questions in a way that is specific to the company and the position, it shows that they have done their research,” says Refael Zikavashvili, Co-founder and CEO of Pramp, in one recent interview. “It makes me believe them when they say they want the job. Not just any job, but THIS position that they are interviewing for,” he continues.
One best practice would be to look for opportunities to show your value alignment.
When you make it clear that you support the big picture and the greater mission of the company, it puts you in the good book of the hiring manager.
3) Make the Interviewer a Part of Your Journey
Lastly, it is important for you to remember that acing a technical interview is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
Any experienced recruiter will tell you that a technical interview is designed in a way that it can test a candidate’s problem-solving and communication skills.
What’s more important than the solution here is – how you work at getting the solution.
Can you articulate your thoughts while writing out the code on the whiteboard?
Are you putting together a clear response to the question presented before you?
Certain types of questions asked at technical interviews aren’t even supposed to have simple answers, making them even more about the candidate’s thought process.
Parker Phinney, Founder of Interview Cake, explains how candidates can leverage such a situation and turn it to their favor:
“Is it an algorithm design problem? If so, sometimes you’re not supposed to know the answer right away. You’re supposed to have to try a couple ideas and think creatively and maybe even take some ideas your interviewer feeds you and run with them. Just relax and keep thinking out loud and trying new ideas.”
One best practice to make the interviewer a part of your journey would be to explain your thought process with every step like you’re part of the team.
If this were a real situation, how would you discuss, explain, and solve the problem?
This can also give your interviewers an idea of how you’d collaborate on the team if they were to hire you.
With that, we’ve reached the end of this article!
If you’d like to learn more about how you can land your dream job and what you can do to ace your next technical interview, get in touch with us at BenchPoint – a recruitment company with years of proven expertise within the technical niche.
We’ll be happy to guide you with the smallest queries you have so that you can bag competitive packages within comparatively lesser time.