As an up-and-coming tech developer or designer, you may already feel prepared to ace your first technical interview. After all, your love of solving problems and building things has left you hungry to show potential employers what you are capable of. Now that you know the logistics of what to expect of a technical interview, it’s important to focus your prep time on the questions you will likely field in your interview. Today we will touch on behavioral and technical questions you may or may not expect to hear, and how to best respond in the moment.
Behavioral interview questions can be peppered throughout the interviewing process, although are less common during technical interview portions where you primarily showcase your work. These questions are meant to highlight your past work experience and highlight your analytical skills, particularly working through challenges.
Behavioral interview questions often begin with open-ended exploratory statements such as:
Pro tip: Some behavioral interview questions may seem easy to answer with a simple “yes” or “no”, while others may not feel applicable to your experience. Even if the questions are simple, employers want a narrative and expect you to showcase your experience even with school projects and volunteering opportunities. Use each question to your advantage by painting a picture of how you work so employers will better understand how you will work for them.
A technical interview may feel like the most intimidating part of the interviewing process, it is not meant to trip you up or even test your expert coding skills. Rather, this interview is more about an employer learning how well you can think and explain. A technical interview may come in three forms: a technical phone screen, remote coding assignment, or a technical onsite interview, better known as a “whiteboarding challenge”. Below are questions you can expect in each type of technical interview.
Be prepared to answer questions such as, “Tell me about a mistake you’ve made…” and “Tell me about how you dealt with a tough challenge…”, and come ready to share your professional background and project examples from your toolbox. Be honest about the types of projects you most enjoy, and communicate why the company’s values align with yours.
The type of assignment you will receive and the amount of time you will spend on it will depend on what kind of engineer or designer you are. For instance, a front-end engineer might be asked to build an interface for a specific type of interaction, while a full-stack designer may be asked to build an app with persistent data and a back-end engineer might be asked to build an Application Programming Interface (API). To help you prepare, brush up on CS fundamentals, including running practice problems with a focus on data structures and algorithms, which can fill in gaps in your knowledge.
According to Perry Eising, tech writer for medium.com, a whiteboard example might be as simple as:
let inputNamesArray = [“Dench, Judy”, “Mirren, Helen”, “Andrews, Julie”, “Jolie, Angelina”]
and return the following output:
let outputNamesArray = [“Dame Judy Dench”, “Dame Helen Mirren”, “Dame Julie Andrews”, “Dame Angelina Jolie”]
A question of this kind would give you the opportunity to ask clarifying questions. As with the remote challenge, it is important to understand the assignment before jumping in. This will demonstrate your ability to consider the larger picture first and identify early assumptions. Don’t be afraid to dialogue until you fully understand. For this assignment, you might ask:
Remember, practice makes perfect. Solving 2-3 interview practice questions per day on a self-imposed deadline will build stamina and ease being on the spot. Plan to complete mock interviews and get feedback from colleagues or mentors, and don’t fall prey to imposter syndrome. You were called for an interview for a reason – you are a good fit for the position. Believe in yourself and your confidence will help you shine in your interviews.
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