You’ve been invited to an interview for the software engineering job you know was meant for you, and you want to make sure they think so too! To make that positive impression during a tech interview, it is crucial to not only showcase your technical skills, but also to demonstrate your ability to communicate and work effectively within a team, and don’t forget to highlight your problem-solving abilities. After years of conducting interviews with tech candidates, we have compiled our recommendations for job seekers.
To begin preparing for the interview, there are a lot of questions to ask yourself: will you be onsite or meet via online video call? Will you be meeting one-on-one or with a panel? Will there be a coding exercise? Have you thoroughly reviewed the requirements for the role? Have you done your research and know the company’s products, culture, and latest news so that you can show how your skills align with the company’s needs and values? Is your resume up to date without grammatical errors or typos? It is especially important for a software engineer to have a resume that reflects attention to detail!
Take a moment to brush up on core computer science concepts, algorithms, and data structures, and practice solving coding problems on a whiteboard or online coding platforms. Lastly, prepare thoughtful questions about the company, team, and projects to demonstrate you are genuinely invested in the opportunity. If you are nervous about interviews, try practicing with a friend or mentor, or through mock interview platforms. This helps improve your confidence and performance.
It’s now time for the interview. You are on time, well rested, professional, and prepared to be your own best advocate! If you are meeting via web call, be sure you are in a quiet area with no background distractions. Once the meeting is underway, maintain good eye contact and positive body language, and when it is time to delve into your capabilities and experience, provide complete answers to questions without going too far “into the weeds” with the details. As you meet:
Ask Clarifying Questions
When presented with a problem or scenario, to ensure you fully understand the requirements before diving into a solution ask any necessary questions to reach your response. This demonstrates your attention to detail and problem-solving approach and once you’ve provided a working solution, discuss potential optimizations or improvements.
Talk Through Your Thought Process
Articulate your thought process clearly as you work through a problem. Explain the steps you are taking, the considerations you are making, and any assumptions you are using. If you are white boarding, explain your code as you write it. These steps provide insight into your understanding of the problem and your coding decisions.
Be Transparent About Your Knowledge
If you encounter a question or problem with which you are not familiar, don’t be afraid to admit it. Instead, discuss how you would go about solving it or learning more about it. Google is a developer’s friend for looking up approaches or to solve a problem, but not during technical interviews! Employers appreciate honesty and a willingness to learn.
Share Past Experiences
Use examples from your previous projects to illustrate your skills and accomplishments. Discuss challenges you have faced, the actions you took to overcome them, and the results you achieved. This helps provide concrete evidence of your abilities. If you have just entered the work force, talk about technical projects from college, internships, or personal experience to highlight your capabilities.
Emphasize your experience working with business and technical teams, and how you have effectively communicated with team members, resolved conflicts, or contributed to the success of group projects.
Highlight Problem-Solving Skills
Discuss instances where you tackled complex issues or optimized processes. Demonstrate a structured approach to problem-solving. Discuss your thought process, break down problems into manageable parts, and explain your reasoning.
Connect Technical Skills to Business Impact
When discussing your technical skills, try to connect them to real-world business impact. For example, if you have worked on optimizing a database, explain how it improved application performance and user experience.
Express Willingness to Learn
Even seasoned developers don’t know everything. Communicate your eagerness to continue learning and growing in your role. Mention any recent courses, certifications, or self-directed learning that you have undertaken and your process to keep your skills up-to-date and adapt to the latest trends and technologies.
Share Your Portfolio
If applicable, include a portfolio of your work, including personal projects, open-source contributions, or relevant coursework.
After the interview send a thank-you email expressing your appreciation for the opportunity and reiterating your interest in the position.
Remember, it is not just about getting the right answer; being open, collaborative, and receptive to feedback will make a positive impression on the interviewers. Be yourself, stay calm under pressure, and demonstrate not just your technical prowess but also your ability to be a valuable team member. Good luck!