Written by Finite

Nailing your tech interview

You probably have a pretty good idea of what to expect in a job interview already, however, the unknown combined with the pressure of interviews might leave you nervous or doubting whether you can make a good enough impression to land the role. Ultimately, you need to be showing the very best version of yourself and to do that, means the right preparation. This will help take much of the stress out of the interview process, enabling you to present your best qualities, confidently. The following guide will help you focus on what’s most important in your interview prep so the next role you want is the role you get.

the basics …

look sharp

Yes, obviously very important to look sharp if it’s a face-to-face interview, but even in these pandemic times with the necessity to work from home, first impressions still count, even over a VC. You don’t have to overdo it, but do at least smarten yourself up, and choose appropriate clothing that fits the gig.

do your research

In this day and age when so much information on positions, knowledge expectations, on organisations, etc., all readily available on the internet, there’s really no excuse to not having a good basic understanding of the role, the company, their products and market sector and an idea on how they are tracking. The more you know the better – and the interviewer will pick up on this. Even if it’s just a quick flick through their website, media reports, and their LinkedIn profile, they are all great resources for this type of research. But remember to take down a few notes – this will help you remember the information better in the interview, if needed.

practice makes perfect

Seasoned professionals can usually predict the most likely questions that will be asked, so be prepared to answer questions about your experience, strengths, career goals, and interests. Make sure you know your CV inside out, particularly if it was put together a while ago, you should be capable of talking in detail about any aspect of it.

Will there be a technical component to the interview? These are increasingly common in IT roles where they want to be able to observe your approach to real-world tech problems likely to arise in the role. Often, they are led by someone different to the interviewer such as a software engineer. Asking and understanding their role and where they fit into the organisation is obviously a bonus that will help you prepare.

Take some time to self- reflect so you can build a compelling description of your experiences and aspirations – the skills you’ve developed, your professional achievements, your future goals. What is it about yourself that will best help you stand out from the other candidates that have been shortlisted for this opportunity?

know your location / VC tech

If it’s face-to-face, make sure you have the right address details and any other directions you might need. If you can, visit the location once before the interview so you’re familiar with everything and have a good idea exactly how long it will take to get there, as arriving late just adds to the stress.

If it’s via VC, then familiarise yourself with the technology, whether it be Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, or another, they all have their nuances and some advance preparation is always recommended, particularly if you are a techie and expected to be in the know. So check the camera angle, that the mike is working, the lighting, and whether the background is suitable or its better to use one of the virtual options / blurring – test it out by calling a friend.

the big day’s arrived

Be early for your interview, try to clear your head and get into a positive frame of mind. Body language is important, so don’t slouch, keep alert and focussed, and of course smile.

how do you want to be received

Technical skills and experience are great but employers are looking for candidates they can work well with so ensure you make an effort to be friendly and personable, to try and build rapport and to make a connection. We appreciate this is easier in person but it’s also important on a VC, and to leave the interviewer with the impression you’re someone they’d like to be working with and that will fit well into their company culture.

Have your notes and CV on hand and some key points prepared as responses to likely questions. You should also have a few questions prepared of your own as you will often be asked at the conclusion of the interview if you have anything you’d like to ask.

It can be very easy to get distracted, particularly on a VC interview, either looking around the room or looking at the picture showing yourself, so make a point of making regular eye-contact with your interviewer.

what to expect

Invariably, you will always be asked about your background, education, and experience, so ensure you are really familiar and up to date with the information you’ve included in your CV.

• General background – you’ll be asked about your general professional and personal background to help gauge your suitability for the role.
• Qualifications, certifications and skills – you’ll likely be asked about your education as well as the skills you may have acquired outside of formal education as many people in IT develop coding and other technical skills via informal training.
• Experience – the interviewer will be interested in your past roles and experience. The more recent the role, the more you should be prepared to talk about it and the challenges and successes during that time.
• Reasons for applying and career objectives – try and be as upfront and honest here as possible rather than just telling them what you think they’d want to hear. Tell them exactly what it is about the role or the company that interests you. Try to think about the near term and longer term goals that you’re working towards and how you’d like your career path to play out.

the tech interview

Usually undertaken as a separate part of the standard recruitment process, it may also occur as part of the initial interview or as a separate interview shortly after the initial interview. It is commonly conducted by a different person than the short form interview. For example, if you’re interviewing for a software developer role, the technical interview would commonly be led by a senior software engineer or maybe the CIO / CTO / or CDO.

Technical testing normally involves asking the candidate to work through a series of problems or puzzles similar to the types of challenges they may face in their role. Often, it is focused on watching on as the candidate explains how they would approach a coding or other problem and observing them working through it in real time to demonstrate their knowledge and approach to technical challenges.

Technical interviews are a far more relevant and accurate way of testing real world skills and assessing how up to date candidates are on the latest technical knowledge, which in IT can obviously change rapidly. if you’re a developer or software engineer, whether you’re interested in a junior or senior role, you should expect that some form of technical testing will likely form a part of the recruitment process.

There is also online Technical testing options they may opt for.

active listening

An often overlooked but important communication skill is active listening, the art of demonstrating that you are engaged during the interview. Not only that, it helps you retain information better, is polite and will generally be noticed and appreciated.

Good active listener traits include: being responsive and not afraid to ask questions where appropriate; not afraid to clarify points; relating your answers to specific questions rather than using blanket answers straight from your CV.

Body language and expression also shows that you’re actively listening while not speaking.

interview’s over, what next

Yes, the interview itself is the most important part of the recruitment process, but there’s more you can do to help nail the opportunity and boost your chances of landing the role.
Take a little time to reflect before you completely relax. Jot down some crucial points to follow up on or things you might want to include in a thank you email, while they’re still fresh in your mind, including any more questions about the position that you weren’t able to clarify in the interview.

Believe it or not, sending a thankyou email is still really appreciated by hiring managers – send it to the most senior person / primary interviewer, asking them to also thank any others that were present in the interview. Best to keep it brief, but thanking them for their time and the opportunity to interview for the position, noting some of the responsibilities of the role and why you are the right candidate to fill the position and take on those responsibilities.

But remember, this needs to be sent quickly, and really within 24 hours of you leaving the interview.

and after that

You’ve made a good impression and congrats, you’ve just been asked for a second interview – they’re definitely interested! However, there’s a few key differences worth pointing out on how the structure and style of a second interview will likely differ from the first interview.

Many first interviews are conducted by a hiring manager or someone from HR, and are commonly used to confirm that a candidate’s track record is in line with what they’ve detailed in their CV, that they have the hard skills and the communication skills for the role.
Second interviews, however, are almost always conducted by someone who will be working closely with the role being hired for, often including people such as department heads or other team members. They provide an opportunity to explore further whether the candidate will be a good team and cultural fit with those they are likely to be working closely with day to day. It may also be used to further test or clarify your technical skills.

second interview preparation

Preparation is always important, so take some time again to reflect on the initial interview. What do you think you did well? What could you have said or done better? When you explained your skill set or experience, did you forgot to mention a particular attribute or reason why you think you’re ideal for the role.
As there may well be new people in the interview don’t be afraid to recap on some of the questions and answers you gave previously. Be prepared to go into greater depth on your skills and previous work history if necessary.
But the best way to know exactly what to expect at the interview is to ask the person who informed you about being selected for a second interview to give you a quick rundown of what will be involved and who exactly will be interviewing you. That gives you the best opportunity to prepare as best you can.

some likely questions

Experience – It’s likely that your experience will be questioned a little more extensively in the second interview. So be prepared and have relevant examples ready and to answer questions about your technical experience and expertise.

Skills – If you have technical skills that are relevant to the role, you may be asked to give specific examples of when you best utilised them. Similarly, if you’ve already done a technical interview in the first round of interviews, then the focus of the second interview may shift more onto your soft skills and cultural fit.

Behavioural – you may have to undertake more behavioural questions such as being asked to elaborate on your preferred methods for workflow and time management, or depending on the role, even asked to undergo psychometric assessments such as a Myers Briggs test or a similar test that helps gauge your personality type and working style.

to sum up

Whereas there’s never any guarantee of success in life, using the above guide can only assist in helping you focus, prepare, and give you the very best opportunity of nailing your text Tech role – good luck!

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