8 Hacks For Your Next Technical Interview
Don't freestyle the intro
I mean you can, but it's better if you don't. Every interview starts with some variation of "Tell me about yourself". So why not perfect it and test it before shipping it to production?
The key to a great intro is four things:
- Keep it short (under 2-3 minutes)
- Make sure it stands out by highlighting few achievements or interests.
- Mention why you're interested in the company.
- Also, don't freestyle it.
You already know the questions (kinda)
While every technical interview is different, there is usually common questions that gets asked a lot, for example "Can you talk about project X", or "What was your experience with technology Y", or "Why are you leaving your current job".
The secret to stress-free interview is preparing these questions (and more). Once you nail them, you'll be more confident and assertive.
Mock the interview
Now that you've prepared an intro and few questions, find the nearest friend, colleague or family member with the best poker face and give them a list of questions to ask you. Gather feedback and repeat.
Talking to a mirror might also do the trick, although not as good.
Keep answers short but not too short
Short answers generally show conciseness and confidence. But not too short that the interviewer would have to ask a lot of follow up questions just to get what they need.
Research your interviewer
Once you get that interview invite email, take few minutes to research the interviewer on Linkedin or Twitter, check their background and interests. Maybe you'll find some common topics of interest or a specific technology that they enjoy using, you might wanna bring up that technology during the interview.
Ask questions at the end
This helps show you're interested in the company, it's better if that interest is genuine. The best questions are usually the ones that are relevant to the job role, somewhat original and you couldn't answer yourself easily by reading the job description or visit their website.
- What do you like the most about working here?
- What's the mission and vision of the company?
- What tools do you use internally to stay in sync/aligned?
- How often do you deploy to staging or production?
Don’t talk badly about ex teammates
It might be tempting to rant about a former employer, manager or teammate. While everything you'll mention might be true, it's generally not a good idea. I mean you can do it, but it's really hard to get it right (politically correct).
If you had to do it, try to keep it classy. For example: "My manager and I saw things differently when it comes to X or had different style when it comes to Y".
Practice makes perfect
Unfortunately, there is little correlation between acing interviews and being a great software engineer. The best way to get better at doing interviews is ... doing (failing?) a lot of interviews.
So the sooner you get started on that the better. If you're not able to score interviews in the first, you might want to check out my post about mistakes to avoid when making a CV.
If you're interested in reading about the thought process behind interviews, the former VP of People Ops at Google wrote an excellent book chapter (Chapter 5) about just that.
If you're interested in advice to help you prepare, you may want to read one of the classics in the field.