How To Prepare for a Technical Interview in 5 Steps
As a candidate for a job, you may receive an invitation for a technical interview in which the employer can observe the specialized skills you promoted on your application. The interview may involve questioning from the hiring manager and tests that require you to show your industry knowledge. Knowing how to prepare for the meeting with the employer can enable you to make a good impression and show that you can handle the responsibilities of the job you're seeking.
In this article, we define a technical interview and discuss how to prepare for one to make sure you're ready.
What is a technical interview?
A technical interview is a meeting between a hiring manager and a candidate who is pursuing a technical role, such as an IT specialist or software developer. The purpose of the interview is to assess the candidate's proficiency in specific areas, such as coding and product testing. The interview may also include scenarios, allowing the employer to evaluate how well the candidate responds to problems and thinks critically.
A technical interview may include the following parts:
During a phone screen, a qualifying interviewer determines whether you're a good fit for the position by asking you questions and reviewing your answers over the phone. This also enables the interviewer to verify your educational and professional qualifications and gauge your communication skills.
Remote coding assignment
Many companies also have candidates complete a remote coding assignment that helps a company assess their problem-solving skills, creativity and technical knowledge of programming languages. For example, if you're applying to a financial company that builds applications for people who need to build their credit using the coding language Python, the assignment may test you on your ability to use the language Python to develop and build a user interface.
After you've had a phone screen and done your homework, your next interview step might be to sit down with an interviewer to confirm your candidacy. During the in-person interview, you might answer behavioral and technical questions and can bring up questions of your own.
Read more: Q&A: What Is a Technical Interview?
Qualities to show during a technical interview
Here's a list of qualities to show to a hiring manager when you're attending a technical interview:
The employer may expect you to show you understand the technical elements of your desired job. For example, if you're applying to be a software developer, the technical interview may test your knowledge of writing and inspecting code, creating a seamless user experience and testing the performance of products.
Another quality that can reflect well on you is your advanced problem-solving skills. You can show the employer that you can overcome challenges and maintain your productivity in the workplace. For instance, as an aspiring cybersecurity specialist, the technical interview may assess your ability to keep security problems from recurring and follow emergency protocols.
The technical interview is an opportunity to exemplify your creativity, which may convince the hiring managers you can produce work that can help improve the company's competitive advantage in the market. When you respond to questions or complete assignments, you can create several solutions to a single problem. Your innovation can also help you distinguish yourself from competing candidates.
How well you communicate with others could be a factor in getting the job. Some people in technical roles explain complicated processes to people in a way that's easy to understand. Competent communication can also be important when you're working as a part of a team or attempting to resolve issues.
The employer may seek assurance that your personality and professional values align with the culture of the company. To prepare for the interview, you can research the company you want to work for and think about how you can contribute to it. You can also show you're a match for the role by sharing your knowledge of the employer when you respond to interview questions.
How to prepare for a technical interview
Technical interview preparation may involve the following steps:
1. Consider the tools and skills necessary for the role
Think about the basic requirements of the job. Reviewing the job description to determine what you need to study is fundamental. This may include working with data structures, understanding algorithms, coding in a specific language or using business intelligence tools.
A strong understanding of the basics can put you in a good position to answer any applicable interview questions. You can create an outline of what you can study or refresh your knowledge by focusing on the basic principles required for the technical role.
2. Study helpful books and digital publications
With an understanding of what to work on, you can begin selecting materials to help you be more successful. Your resources may include:
Books: Reading books on subjects, such as coding or management styles, can help you increase your knowledge and provide confident, thorough answers in your interview.
Online coursework: Reviewing online coursework can help with the practical application of technical skills.
Digital publications: Online publications can help you expand your knowledge base, but also keep you aware of trends in technology that may apply to your interview.
3. Practice for the interview
To prepare for the practical elements of a job interview, such as take-home work or in-person problem-solving, you can practice logical equation strings that make sense for the position. Thinking out loud can help during this process. Not only is it a good way to stay engaged while solving complex problems, but it's also important for interviewers to know your thought process.
If you're going into a coding position, practice answering coding questions. While you're practicing questions for all sorts of scenarios, review the kinds of general interview questions about skills and behaviors that you're likely to have at an interview.
4. Prepare to ask questions
In addition to being knowledgeable and showing demonstrable skills, being able to communicate with people professionally is important. Talking through your work, providing thorough answers and arriving at your interview prepared to ask questions can make a big difference for moving forward in the interview process.
To better prepare for the conversation, have a few questions you want to ask the interviewer. Take some time to review the company and job description before the interview, and jot down any questions that arise. Remember that it's customary for candidates to hold their questions for the end of the interview.
5. Take the time you need
Whether answering take-home coding questions or using a whiteboard in real-time at your interview, take the time you need to solve the problem and check your work. If you slow down and make sure not to rush, you may have fewer errors. You can also feel confident about the answers you're submitting to the employer.
6. Prepare your materials
Before your interview, consider the materials you can use during the technical interview. This may include a notepad, pens and other specific tools for the role. It's also a good idea to bring copies of your resume and other documents, like certifications or licenses.
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