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24 December 2023 - 7 minutes

Ace Your Tech Interview: Common Questions and How to Answer Them

They’re tough to answer, but we have what you need. 

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There’s nothing more intimidating than an interview, right? You’re up against stiff competition, having to prove yourself worthy of landing the job. We get it–it’s a scary situation, no matter how far along you are in your career or the interview process and even if you spend hours preparing, you might still be faced with a question that makes you hesitate: what’s the best way to answer this question? Or is there even a right answer? 

Interviewing, especially when your dream role is on the line, can be quite the challenge. You have to keep your cool and answer the questions to the best of your ability: how can you do this? And what are the most common questions–and answers–that you’ll face in interviews? In this article, we’ll cover all that–and more. 

Before we get right into the most common interview questions in tech and how to answer them, let’s review some of the basics of interviews, what to expect, and some helpful reminders about the entire process. 

Why Do You Have to Interview? 

They’ve seen your resume and probably chatted with you before–why is an interview even necessary?! It may seem redundant, but let’s think about it: are you just what’s on a single piece of paper, or do you have more to offer to the company? And let’s not forget about the importance of you liking the company and seeing a future there as well–interviews are two way streets and the company needs to also sell themselves to you. 

Interviews are crucial parts of the hiring process and here’s why: 

  • Hiring and onboarding a new employee is an incredibly time-consuming and extensive process and through interviews, companies can be more confident in their decisions, avoiding having to repeat the process in a short period of time. 

  • Interviews are a great way to get to know the candidate on a personal level, discovering more about their personality, if they’d be a good fit for the team, and how they handle conflict. 

  • Companies that have little turnover and high rates of employee retention are better off because they enjoy higher levels of employee loyalty and have a better chance of recruiting top level talent. Interviews help evaluate if the candidate is truly a good fit. 

  • Resumes are just one page summaries of your capabilities and as your career progresses, you’ll find that you’re leaving more and more of your skills off the page. In interviews, you’ll have the chance to share what you can offer with the entire team. 

  • As interviews are live, they give employers the opportunity to see how you react to questions or problems in real-time, providing a quick sample of what working with you would actually be like–something that’s hard to grasp from just a resume or email. 

The different stages of the interview process 

Don’t worry–we’re getting to the good stuff! But to understand what questions could be asked during an interview, it’s imperative to understand the different stages of the interview process and what to expect during each; the questions will vary, becoming more detailed and role-related as you progress. 

If you’re asked to interview for a role, you can expect to follow these steps throughout the entire process: 

  • The initial phone interview: these days, companies receive hundreds or even thousands of applicants for a single role and only those that pass the initial screening will be asked to chat quickly with HR to reduce the number even further. This quick conversation usually won’t surpass 10-15 minutes and is designed to make sure you align with what the company offers in terms of salary, geographic requirements, benefits, in-person/hybrid rules, and other basics. They might ask a bit about your experience, but you can expect to mainly answer questions related to what we just listed. 

  • The interview with your prospective boss: if everything goes well during your initial phone interview with HR, your information will be passed along to your prospective boss and this interview will dive a bit deeper into the details of the role, the company, and your qualifications. During this stage, both your technical experience and personality will be evaluated to see if you’re a good fit for the team. 

  • The technical interview: the company wants to see proof that you can do what you’ve promised and will usually ask you to complete a quick technical test that evaluates your skills; this is either live, in front of the company, or take-home that you can do on your own time. Remember to show your work and just do your best.

  • The team interview: if everything has gone well until this point, it’s time to focus more on your personality, instead of your technical skills, and you’ll meet with your prospective team to see how you’d fit in. Be yourself and remember that making it this far is an impressive accomplishment and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly! 

This is just a basic run-down of the interview process and the different interviews you can expect to have; your specific experience will vary but you can expect to follow a rough outline of what we laid out above. 

The Most Common Interview Questions 

You’ve made it–we’re about to dive right into the most common interview questions and, of course, how to answer them. We know that you trust us fully, but these should be taken as suggestions and adjusted to fit your specific circumstances. 

“Tell us about yourself”

This is the worst question to hear in an interview–hands down! Despite the fact that you know who you are and what you can bring to the table, this open-ended question can make your brain go empty and leave you unsure of how to respond. This common and usually first question is asked for a few reasons: 

  • It helps the interviewer get an idea of who you are: it can be hard to get a feel for who you really are with rehearsed questions that the interviewer could answer with your CV; by allowing you the freedom to answer the question on your own, your personality has a chance to shine. 

  • It helps break the ice: you’ll probably be nervous heading into your interview and letting you open up and mention anything you want helps even the playing field a bit, letting you get your nerves out before the real questions begin. 

  • It gets you talking: the interviewer already knows your employment history and education; what they don’t know is how you speak, your personality, and your mannerisms. Allowing you to do most of the talking before the interview becomes more serious gives a great snapshot of what you’re like outside of an interview. 

“What are your biggest weaknesses?”

Up there with ‘tell me about yourself,’ this question is killer and appears on basically every interview ever. It may seem like there’s no correct answer to this question, but there is a great way to answer it and leave the interviewer impressed: 

  • Frame your weakness in a positive light: if you want to admit that you spend too much time checking your work and sometimes fall behind, explain that although this happens, it’s because you’re so focused on delivering high-quality work. 

  • Own up to your areas for improvement: no one is perfect and answering ‘I have none’ won’t be a good way to impress your prospective company; be honest about the things you can improve upon, always explaining how you’ve already been working on improvements. 

“What do you expect from this role?”

This is an incredibly open-ended question and interviewers include it to see exactly what matters to you; from salary expectations to remote/hybrid arrangements, it’s essential to use this time to make sure you’re a good fit for the role. Remember that job interviews are for both you and the interviewer and you need to be a good fit. Heading into the interview, you can prepare by: 

  • Researching the company: you’ll be better suited to answer this question if you’ve already researched the company and their mission and values, so make sure you do that beforehand. You can also look at industry salary rates to ensure you propose a fair number and see what competitors are offering to know if you’re in a good position to ask for more. 

  • Reflecting on your personal career goals: this new role should ultimately progress your career aspirations, helping you learn new skills and develop as a professional. Being able to explain what you’re looking for professionally will leave a lasting and positive impact on the interviewer. 

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Listen–employers aren’t expecting you to sell your soul to the company, but they do want to know that you plan on devoting some of your career to their business and becoming a loyal employee. If you’ve properly researched the company, this is a great time to tie in what you’ve learned to what the company does, citing examples of how the company can help you expand your skills. 

Interviews can be daunting–we’ve been there and we get it. But as a new techie entering the field, you’ll be given the opportunity to enter a world full of opportunities. And there’s no better place to start your journey than with Ironhack. 

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