Interviews for entry-level tech posts - steps to success
As your Ironhacktech course progresses, thoughts turn to future career plans. But, applying for an entry-level tech job brings with it the challenge of a technical interview. These are designed to rigorously test coding, design, and problem-solving skills along with a host of soft skills. While you may have extensive programming knowledge you haven't yet acquired industry experience. The tech interview, however, is your chance to demonstrate your marketability, your skills, and, most importantly, your willingness to learn and develop. Technical interviews are usually broken down into stages such as remote chats and coding challenges as well as onsite tasks and interviews. Knowing what to expect and being fully prepared are key to successfully landing your dream tech job. We've put together a guide to the steps tech interviews often take followed by some other tips for success.
Step 1: The application
To get as far as an interview, you need to make job applications. The key to a successful application is a top-notch (but not overloaded) resume accompanied by a well-researched and well-written cover letter. If you have examples of projects from your training, creating an online portfolio is an additional way of showcasing your skills and talent. It's worth investing money in a resume-writing service. Give the service provider as much relevant information as possible. If producing your own resume, it should be professional-looking and tweaked to reflect the criteria of the advertised job. Your cover letter should also be targeted at a specific person. You may need to do some research to find this name but it shows that you have initiative and are truly invested in your application. In your cover letter, explain clearly and concisely why the job excites you and what you can bring to the company.
Step 2: The phone chat (or screening)
If your resume is a success, the next step is often an invitation for a phone chat. Give yourself a pat on the back as this is a great achievement. While it gives companies a further chance to screen applicants, it's also an opportunity for you to share your tech knowledge and show off your communication skills. Be ready and waiting at the proposed time of the call and then let your interest shine through by having a few questions ready to ask. You may know the answers already from your research but asking relevant and intelligent questions showcases your enthusiasm and professional approach.
Step 3: Engaging with the hiring manager (usually remotely)
Do well during the phone screen and you'll be invited to an online meeting. This may be conducted by your potential line manager. As well as assessing your technical skills, the interviewer will also be checking your professionalism and deciding whether your personality is a good fit for the team. To maximize your chances, show enthusiasm for the advertised role and the company as well as showing off your skills and interests. Be honest about any areas of weakness that would require ongoing training, you're not expected to know everything when you start. On a more personal level, make sure you're ready and logged on for the start of the interview, dress smartly, and speak clearly and concisely. Again, have some questions ready to ask.
Step 4: The technical challenge - wowing them in person
If you're invited to a physical interview at your potential site of employment, serious congratulations are coming your way. This really is the time to shine and show everyone that you're perfect for the job. You'll meet the hiring manager in person and have a chance to talk more about job specifics (such as salary, dress policy, and other working conditions). The interview questions will be more specific and technical and almost definitely accompanied by practical tasks such as a coding challenge completed on a whiteboard. These half-day or day-long visits often include a tour of the company and a chance to meet future colleagues. You may even be interviewed by a panel of your future team colleagues. Be sure to act in a professional and engaging manner with everyoneyou meet.
Other useful tips
Make sure your soft skills are spot on
While your coding know-how is the vital key to an entry-level role, there are other essential skills prospective employers look for. These include:
Communication:Not only will you need to communicate clearly with your team you should be able to explain complex tech concepts and problems in a simple concise way that clients can understand. On the subject of communication, everything you write from your resume onwards should be free of typos, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes!
Self-starting:Can you work independently? Are you motivated? Can you take tasks to the next level? Are you confident enough to ask for help if you need it?
Teamwork:It's more than likely that you'll be working as part of a team so your ability to relate well to others is vital
Personal development:To develop your career and move on from entry-level posts, you need to constantly improve your skill sets and be willing to go on training courses to further develop your knowledge. You should be able to accept constructive criticism graciously and learn from it
Cracking the dress code
The dress code in most tech companies is casually relaxed and this is something that will be highlighted during the interview. For the interview, however, always dress smartly in a way that's one step up from the normal office code. Do some research and if, for example, the dress code is jeans and tees, for the interviews wear a business casual outfit.