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December 13, 2023 - 7 minutes

Preparing for Tech Interviews: Researching the Company and Its Culture

The interview process is about making sure both sides agree it’s a good fit. 

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It’s time: you’ve heard back from your dream company and after receiving your application, they’re interested in giving you an interview to learn more about you. But once that initial excitement wears off, you’re faced with a bit of doubt: what will they ask? What if they ask something you don’t know? How can you prepare for the interview? Is there even a way to prepare for interviews? 

These concerns are completely valid and to be expected in the world of professionalism and business; it seems that these days, each company wants something different and has varying expectations for their employees. So when you’re faced with an upcoming interview, don’t panic: there are great ways to prepare, including researching the company and practicing your interview skills, that we’re about to share with you here.

But before we get right into the good stuff, understanding what a tech interview consists of and what it means when you’re invited to interview is a great place to start. 

The Details of Tech Interviews

You might be thinking: listen, I have all the requirements and experiences listed on the job listing. Why do I have to interview? They know everything I bring to the table! And while interviews do serve for the company to learn about your experiences, it’s more of a chance to see if you’re a good fit for the team and company itself; they want to talk to you personally, get a sense of your personality and character, test out your skills a bit, and see if you’d be a good fit. 

Overall, companies are looking to answer these three questions during the interview process:

  • Does the candidate have the technical abilities to meet the job requirements?: here, the company wants to evaluate your education and professional experience to see if you’re able to meet their needs; companies hire for specific tasks and need to ensure you’re qualified. 

  • Is the candidate truly interested in the role?: companies want to see motivation from their employees and feel that they’ll go the extra mile to meet deadlines and finish projects.

  • Will the candidate fit with the team?: managers want to ensure that the new hire’s personality will fit well with the team, avoiding any problems that could arise from clashing characters. 

The tech hiring process

It can be quite lengthy and even frustrating, but understanding the tech hiring process is a key part of setting yourself up for success. Just so you’re completely clear about what it entails, let’s break down the tech hiring process from start to finish: 

  1. The application: the first step is clear: you need to apply! Once you see a job posting that piques an interest and decide to go for it, you’ll submit an application. The exact elements that you’ll send to complete your application will vary based on the posting, but you can expect to send your CV, cover letter, portfolio, and links to your work or LinkedIn profile.

  2. The initial phone interview: this stage exists simply to ensure that you’re a good fit for the role on paper; usually conducted by an HR professional, you’ll be asked about your experience, qualifications, and education and learn about the general conditions of the role (salary, benefits, etc.) to make sure you align with the company. After all, if something doesn’t add up, there’s no point in wasting your time further. 

  3. The interview with your potential supervisor: if everything goes well during the initial phone interview, you’ll be asked to speak with your prospective supervisor. During this interview, you’ll get into more detail about the role and your experiences, seeing if it’s the right fit based on your experiences and ability to fit in with the team. 

  4. The technical interview: after a successful interview with your prospective manager comes a technical interview, where your abilities will be put to the test during an either live test or a take-home one where you’ll be asked to submit a specific assignment. Do your best and don’t worry: if you’ve made it this far, the company is already impressed with you and just wants to see your abilities in action. 

  5. The culture fit interview: this last interview will be proposed if you pass the technical assignment and typically is a team meeting of everyone you’d be working with to see if you fit in on a personality basis with the rest of the team; this will be more casual and conversation-based. 

It seems like a long process and we’re not going to lie–it can be. But as time progresses and you get more interviews and experiences under your belt, you’ll gain confidence so that you’re ready to impress everyone throughout the interview process. 

Preparing for Tech Interviews 

One question still remains: how can you prepare for these interviews?! Heading into interviews can be daunting and seems completely unknown. And while that’s somewhat true–you won’t fully know what to expect until you’re in the interview–there are certain steps you can take to prepare yourself for the process and the specific company for which you’re interviewing. 

Before we get to the details of researching the company (which is the biggest part of preparing for an interview), let’s go over some other tips we have for nailing interviews--all of which happen before the interview even begins! 

  • Review the job description: while this seems painfully obvious, you’d be surprised at how frequently people show up for interviews unprepared and aren’t even clear on what the position is looking for! You don’t need to memorize it, but carefully read over the job expectations and desired qualifications so that you know what to mention once in the interview.

  • Practice your answers: knowing how to concisely and properly answer questions is a skill and if you practice answering common questions (tell us about yourself; what’s your biggest weakness; what’s your best quality; what are your career goals), you’ll come off as more experienced and confidence–qualities for which all interviewers look.

  • Be early and presentable: these days lots of interviews are held online or over the phone, but these rules still apply: if an interviewer is going to call you at a specific time make sure you’re ready in a quiet room with a good connection and even if you’re on a video chat, ensure you’re dressed appropriately and look presentable. A three piece suit isn’t expected, but it’s good to change out of your pajamas.

Now that you’re clear on these tips, let’s review the most important part of interview prep: researching the company and its culture. 

How to Research a Company and its Culture

This crucial part of the interview process happens both before and during the interview process; let’s break down each section so that you’re able to get a complete vision of what working for the company is really like. Remember–interviews are two-sided and you need to make sure the company is a good fit for you as well. 

Before you head into any interview, follow these steps to research a company: 

  1. Start on the company’s website: there’s no better place to get an idea for what a company is like than its website! Here you can read about their mission and values, in addition to seeing their projects and what they’re up to. 

  2. Check out their social media: lots of companies are using social media to showcase what life is like for their employees; this is a great place to see what life ‘behind the scenes’ looks like for the team. LinkedIn is also a useful resource to see who currently works there and their experience. 

  3. Search online for reviews: the internet is a great place to hear from past or current employees and can help you get a more realistic view of what working for the company is truly like. 

If everything looks good to you and you decide to move forward with the interview process, try to include the following during your interviews:

  1. Asking interviewers about the company’s culture: the horse’s mouth is the best place to get information and you’ll be able to learn lots from just asking them to describe it themselves! 

  2. Asking team members to describe their experiences at the company: you shouldn’t just ask leaders about their experiences; during the culture fit or any team interviews you’re asked to attend, make sure you ask different employees at different levels about what their work experience is like to get more diverse answers and an altogether more complete view of the company. 

  3. Reflecting about how you were treated during the interview process: your own personal experiences can be incredible resources when it comes to deciding if a company is a good fit for you: did you feel respected during the interview process? Was your time respected and were you treated like a valued professional? Thinking about how you were treated can help you picture how you’ll be treated if you’re hired. 

Knowing how to take on the interview process can be quite intimidating, but it’s not impossible. Remember, you want to find a job that makes you feel happy and valued–interviews are two-sided and as much as you want to sell yourself to the company, the company needs to sell itself to you as well. 

Taking the time to research the company and its culture helps you learn more about the day-to-day at the company and ultimately decide if it’s a good fit. And at Ironhack, we understand how important it is to feel confident during the interview stage, prioritizing career help and resources throughout your bootcamp–and for up to a year post-graduation. 

We’re set on helping you reach success: are you ready to take the first step? 

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