Technical interviews are popular with hiring managers. They provide a method for interviewers to not only see your skills in action, but learn the way you think. And if you are applying for a position that requires coding skills, having to face this challenge is almost a guarantee.
Many job seekers struggle with how to prepare for a technical interview. Some assume their education or experience will carry them through without any additional preparation. Others figure there isn’t anything they can do to improve their chance of success, so they default to doing nothing. But proper preparation could be the difference between getting a job offer and being passed by.
To help you prepare for your next technical interview, here is what you need to know.
Whether you’ve just graduated with a degree, finished a coding boot camp or have years of experience in the field, the biggest difference between a technical interview and doing the work is you are functionally on your own. When you work on code in a class or on the job, you typically have access to tools and resources to help you along: the IDE reminds you of syntax, your co-workers can answer questions, you can access a textbook, or use Google or StackOverflow for questions.
In a technical interview, you must rely on your knowledge alone, an uncommon situation for most. And that’s what makes preparation so important. Before you head off for the interview, spend time reviewing materials, especially in areas that typically trip you up. Go through old textbooks, pick up a study guide or take a free refresher course online.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, use the job posting for clues. If a particular coding language is listed first or referred to repeatedly, that is an ideal starting point.
Another point that makes a technical interview challenging is the lack of a keyboard. Generally, you’ll be writing code by hand on a whiteboard. This means you can’t rely on muscle memory when it comes to what needs to be written down. Additionally, you will need to write in a way that most people don’t practice.
If you want to prepare for the whiteboard specifically, use your study materials to guide your efforts. Practice writing any exercises by hand instead of on a computer. And, if possible, try to write them on a vertical surface. That way, when you must grab a marker and get to work, the entire process won’t feel as foreign or uncomfortable. Plus, it will give you a chance to work on your penmanship from this awkward angle if things aren’t as legible as you would like.
In most cases, the questions in a technical interview will have simple enough answers to be managed within the time allotted. That means the answers won’t be overly complex. However, that doesn’t mean the material won’t be challenging.
Most companies don’t want the questions to be too basic, as it might make the organization appear boring. Often, they are aiming for a point that separates those who could do the work from those who really don’t have a clue. Expect the questions to require some thought, but they shouldn’t take forever to complete.
If you want some examples to try, consider searching online. Sites like StackOverflow and GlassDoor often have examples from real interviews, giving you additional insight into what to expect. And, once you find questions that seem applicable, write the answer by hand using the real code before checking to see if you are correct. Then, if you made a mistake, review some materials that pertain to the answer and seek out a new question. While you might not get all of them right on the first try, you will get more comfortable with the technical interview process. And you might even learn something new along the way.
If you are looking for a new programming position, Validity Solutions can help you find new opportunities. Contact us to explore what is available in your field today.