Tech Interview Tips
Having sat on both sides of the interview desk, there are certain things that I have learned and have created this resource to share those details. They are in no particular order. This will be a living document. Meaning that it will be updated as time goes on.
Make sure your entire outfit matches, including your socks
I once did a mock interview session for some students. I went into the waiting room, called the next interviewee, and as he got up something stood out to me about his attire. He had on gym socks, which did not match his shirt and tie attire.
Granted his socks would be covered by his pants when walking or standing, I saw his socks while he was still sitting down in the waiting area. In the feedback portion of the interview, I mentioned that his socks were ready to go to the gym or play sports but the rest of him was ready for an interview. He explained why that was the case, but I shared with him that those minor things could result in him not getting the job because it demonstrates a lack of detail.
Know what is on your resume
I did an interview where I asked the interviewee a question about a particular technology that he had listed on his resume. Initially he wasn't sure about what I was talking about, so I showed him the resume and where it was listed and he immediately recalled what I was talking about.
Now this indicates the possibility of one or more things about the interviewee
- did not write or proofread the resume to see what was on it
- does not have actual knowledge of the technology and the answers s/he is giving is what they have memorized
- was told to put that on the resume because it looks good
What you do not want to do is to convey any of the reasons above to the interviewer. If you do so, then you will appear less qualified for the position that you are interviewing for.
Your resume does not need your full address
While this was important back in the day, your resume does not need your full address. No employer is going to contact you via postal mail to schedule an interview. With Google Maps Street View, they can see exactly where you live and that can get you disqualified for the job because preconceived notions about you and the neighborhood that you live in. If an employer does need you to mail you something, they will ask for your address at that time. I suggest that people put the city and state that they are currently living in on their resume. You may optionally include the zip code.
What's the difference between a technical and functional interview?
Technical interview assesses your technical skills. You will get questions like
- what is the difference between an integer and floating point number?
- Fizz Buzz challenge
- Fibonacci Sequence
- Live coding
Functional interview assesses the behaviorial and situational aspects. You will get questions like
- Tell me about a time where you had a challenge and what did you do to fix it?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What is your greatest strength?
I don't know the answer to a question. Should I wing it or should I say that I don't know?
It is best for you to say that you don't know. You are probably thinking that it is bad that you don't know something, but look at it this way.
If you wing the answer, and wing it incorrectly, then it becomes more evident that you do not know what you are talking about or lack the knowledge in the subject being asked.
If you admit that you don't know, then you are being truthful about not having knowledge and would be better trusted.
Be consistent with your answers
Did an interview once where the interviewees did 3 interviews on site on the same day. One of the interviewees, was asked the same or similar question in 2 of the 3 interviews. In the post-interview meeting where all the interviewers get together and discuss about each candidate, this one interviewee told the first interviewer one answer and gave the second one a different answer. That along with a couple of other sketchy details got him disqualified from moving on to the next round of interviews.
At the end of interview, the interviewer usually ask the interviewee if s/he has any questions. This is the time to further demonstrate that you are really interested in the job. Some questions that you can ask are
- What is your (the interviewer) typical work day like?
- What is the company culture like?
- What opportunities are there for training or for me to advance my skills?
- What are the work hours like? Any on-call duties?
The interviewer is going to take notes about what was said, their observations, and more. It would be in your best interest to do the same. For me, I have a tendency to forget a person's name. Thus in the interview, will write down the names of each person that is interviewing me and if I need to, reference that while in the interview. Same could be done for salary ranges, things that you want to follow up on after the interview, and more.
Continue the job search
While you have completed the job interview and believed that the interview went well, continue searching and applying for jobs. Often I see people do interviews and stop looking for jobs because they got an interview. Then months go by, they don't hear anything or they get a rejection letter and then have to pick back up where they left off in their search. By the time they've picked back up, they market may have changed some and thus the old strategy no longer works.