The tech interview process
Landing your dream job isn’t just down to perfecting your portfolio or creative resume. It’s about knowing what to expect and preparing carefully to showcase your skills and experience.
The technical interview is sometimes intimidating as it is unlike any other job interview: it’s a specialized, rigorous process that tests your coding skills, problem-solving abilities, and personality.
Tech interviews typically include behavioural questions, situational questions and technical problem-solving questions. Whether you are just starting in this field or are a seasoned professional, preparation is everything to ace a tech interview.
First things first
While many engineers can be somewhat qualified for the role they are applying for, they miss out on getting a shot at the interview as they might never get past resume screening. Before writing your resume, it is essential to understand how recruiting is done.
Usually, recruiters consult the specific skill sets that are relevant for the position and that are typically grouped into:
- “Must have” – A degree in a relevant technical field, some years (or not) of experience in a particular programming language or technology;
- “Good to have” – Includes experience/familiarity with secondary languages/technologies which may not be directly relevant to what the candidate would be working on but could be required due to some interfacing with other components of the project. It could also include softer skills such as being a good team player, communication skills, etc.
- “Bonus to having” – Recognized skill sets/experiences which are difficult to come by. Not a requirement, but it would be helpful for the position.
The technical interview
The purpose of the technical interview is to see how you tackle real-world problems like those you might be facing once you get the job.
Tech interviews usually begin the same way as any other interview would, with a series of general and behavioural interview questions intended to learn more about the candidate and how they will fit in with the company’s culture. When answering behavioural interview questions, it is best to try to use the STAR interview technique by identifying a Situation, Task, Action and Result of an experience you have that is relevant to the question.
Here are some common behavioural questions you can expect during a tech interview:
- “What was your specific role and responsibilities on the most recent project you worked on?”;
- “What is the project you are most proud of, and how did you contribute to it?”;
- “Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?”
Every company’s tech interview process is different, but they often take place on three stages:
- Technical phone screen. Good news! The company liked your resume and wants to talk to you. This interview stage will see if you are qualified and enthusiastic enough to proceed to the next step. This is your chance to make an excellent first impression. Focus on conveying your soft skills (enthusiasm, communication, teamwork, others).
- Code interview/assignment. Some companies will want to test your coding skills with a preliminary test before having you come in. It may be conducted over the phone, video call, or could be a homework-type assignment.
- Onsite interview/whiteboarding challenge. This is the stage that most people call the actual “technical interview.” It involves an in-person interview and may include some coding challenges you have to complete on a whiteboard in front of the interviewer. Don’t stress yourself out but dedicate extra preparation time to critical technical interview skills. Fill in the gaps in your knowledge of data structures and algorithms, and don’t forget to talk through your reasoning process and explain the steps you are taking to answer the question.
Beyond just pure tech skills, which recruiters already read about on your resume, interviewers want to see your passion for tech and coding, enthusiasm and communication skills.
Prepare a 30-second to a 1-minute elevator pitch for the “Tell me about yourself” question. You must go prepared to talk about non-coding topics like your employment history, career goals and past projects. It’s a great time to demonstrate soft skills and passion. Understand tech fundamentals. In most cases, technical interviewers aren’t going to expect you to recite complex formulas from memory; most questions will not be based on your ability to deconstruct complex concepts. For example, an interviewer may ask, “If you had a page that’s experiencing performance issues, how would you go about figuring out the bottleneck?” This question assesses a candidate’s knowledge of fundamentals and allows the candidate to show off a deep understanding. The only way to stand out is to understand the fundamental concepts that underpin the feature in question. Tailor your answers. Tailor your responses to the exact job you’re interviewing for. When a candidate answers the interview questions in a specific way to the company and the position, it shows that they genuinely want THE job they are interviewing for.
Your interviewers are not machines. It can be of extreme value to find a connection point – ask good and thoughtful questions, laugh sincerely and be appropriate. At the end of the interview, the interviewer’s overall feeling about you should be positive, so make sure to focus on improving your conversation skills.
Even if you don’t get the job, have the perspective that the interview was great practice for the future. Take valuable insights from the experience and use them to drive yourself forward.
If you are currently searching for a job, Softlanding is looking to hire the best for top-notch tech companies from all around the world here.