Are you about to interview for the job of your dreams?! We’re so excited for you. The interview process may seem daunting, but there are straightforward steps you can take to ace the interview and land that job. In this blog, we’ll first explore the generic interview process and questions and then dive into tech-specific recommendations. Ready? Let’s get started!
The Interview Process
The interview process varies from company to company and even from team to team, but there are certain key points that are constant across the board. Here’s what you need to know:
Before the interview: congratulations! You’ve landed an interview at your dream job. Now what?
Research the company and the job: make sure you’re familiar with the company, its mission and values, and the requirements and expectations of the job.
Prepare questions: the interviewer will always give you the chance to ask questions and it’s best to have a few great ones prepared to show your dedication and interest in the company.
Plan for the interview: is the interview in-person? Do you know how to get there? Prepare your commute and plan to arrive early. Is it remote? Ensure you have a quiet, organized place to conduct the interview.
During the interview: the day is here! You’re probably nervous, but don’t forget to:
Be early: traffic and public transport aren’t totally predictable and you might have to sign-in to the building or have to search a bit to find the right office. Give yourself ample time to arrive early. If it’s an online interview, enter the virtual meeting space a few minutes early; sometimes you might be prompted to download an app or you might have issues with your video/audio. These issues are normal, but give yourself time to fix them!
Bring resources: it helps to have a physical copy of your resume, cover letter, portfolio, references, or any other documents at your interview to both reference and leave with the interviewer.
Be confident: you got this interview because the interviewer thought you could be a good fit for the role. So act like it! Smile, be friendly, and show what you’re capable of.
After the interview:
Say thank you: kindness and attention to detail goes a long way; send a thank you email to the interviewer or the team to show you appreciate their time and effort in interviewing you.
Complete any tasks: it’s common for interviewers to request tests or case studies to put your skills to the test. Meet any deadlines laid out for these kinds of requests and send any requested, additional information (portfolios, references, etc.).
What to avoid in interviews
These may seem like no-brainers, but they happen! Make sure you avoid this interview don’ts:
Using your phone/other tabs on your computer
Unclear or rambling answers
Having no questions
Speaking negatively about current or past employers
Showing a lack of interest in the company/role
Concerned about accidentally doing some of these? Here’s how to ace these issues:
Arrive early: come up with a plan to arrive early, giving yourself ample time to get lost or deal with traffic/late-arriving public transportation.
Be focused: leave your phone in your bag and silence it. If it’s a remote interview, close out all other windows and give the interview your full attention.
Be concise: know what you want to convey and have answers planned. Try to answer the question without diving too far into unrelated details.
Dress appropriately: companies are becoming increasingly more flexible with dress codes, but it’s best to dress professionally for interviews.
Be prepared: have a list of questions or talking points you want to mention to show your preparation. These should be questions that indicate you’ve done research, not things you could find on the company’s website.
Be professional: even if you’re coming from the worst employer or job, don’t talk negatively about the company as it can make future employers wary. Try to frame things positively and show why you’re ready for a new challenge.
Show interest in the new opportunity: just like you want employers to want you, employers want you to want them! Show the interviewer that you are truly interested and dedicated to the company’s mission.
Nailing Your Tech Interview
Tech interviews are another breed indeed. Employers want to know that you are an expert in your field or are willing to learn what they need you to know. Are you up for the challenge?
Tech interview overview
Typically held over the phone, this interview mainly seeks to gather basic information about you and your expectations, such as start date, salary expectations, skills and availability.
As the name suggests, this part of the interview wants to see your skills put to the test and is usually completely remotely. You’ve told the interviewer what you can do; now they want to see it. And don’t stress: the interviewer doesn’t want to see you fail! They want to see what you can do under pressure and possible areas for improvement. Above all, they want to see how you would do in the role.
Congrats! You’ve passed the technical interview and you’ve been asked to come in person for an onsite interview, to meet the team, and to complete a challenge in person. Sounds stressful, but you’ve made it this far because you’re talented, the company really thinks you could fit in, and the company wants to watch you work through a problem in your own way. It may seem scary to solve a problem in front of the team, but take your time. You’ve got this!
Tips for Nailing Your Practical or Technical Interview
Employers want you to succeed; they want to find the next member of their team - we promise! Follow these five steps to nail your interview:
Make sure you fully understand the prompt: before you even pick up a pen, ask clarifying questions. Not only will this help you better understand the prompt and solve it, but it will show the interviewer that you take your time and are a good problem-solver.
Talk through the process: this will help both you understand the process you’re going to take and help the interviewer understand your thinking process. Laying everything out on the table helps you see the bigger picture; this is what potential employers are looking for.
Stay calm and professional: your code or answer isn’t the only thing the employer is looking for; they want to see how you work through problems or with a team. Use the correct vocabulary, stay composed, and be professional throughout the entire interview - even if you make a mistake!
Try new ideas: we’ve all gotten stuck in the middle of a problem; you’re not alone! And interviews want to see how you get out of issues or how you manage when you’ve reached a dead end. Displaying critical thinking skills and the ability to think outside of the box is a definite plus in the employer’s book.
Check your work: Whew! You’re done - but not so fast. Make sure you check for errors and walk through the entire process to both ensure that you’ve done everything correctly and to show the interviewer how you reached the final answer/product.
Still looking for tips? We got you. Try to avoid these common mistakes:
Lack of preparation: there is absolutely no such thing as too much preparation. Use the resources available to you:
Try sample online tests
Research the company’s interview process to see what kinds of questions they ask
Working too fast: that age-old adage of “quality over quantity” exists for a reason and employers don’t want to see you break time records when solving the problem; they want to see a high-quality final product.
Being too set in your ways: we get it. You’ve spent your whole life working in one way or another and now the interviewer is suggesting another method. Showing that you’re open to change or trying new things is key during an interview.
Being too robotic: tech companies or roles might have the reputation of being lone wolves, but companies are looking for candidates that are friendly and will contribute to the team outside of the specified roles. Be open, engage in conversation, and get to know the team outside of their professional roles.
No matter how much experience you have or how many interviews you’ve had, the next one will always be stressful. Follow these tips and tricks and don’t panic: you got this.