Technical Interviewing 101

Technical Interviews can be daunting, but with adequate preparation they don’t have to be!

Normal technical interview consists of two parts:

  • Whiteboarding or coding—The interviewee is given a problem for which they have to whiteboard or code a solution in real time.
  • Knowledge-based Q&A—Interviewers ask questions about different topics so they can dig deeper into the candidate’s knowledge.

Tips to Prepare:

  • Know the Job Requirements- If the job description requires JavaScript, you should know how to talk about and solve problems using JavaScript.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice- Find someone who will participate in a mock interview with you. University Career Centers have great resources to help with this.
  • Watch Google Webinars- These can be found on YouTube under “Google University” and cover a range of topics. (Google even checks to see if applicants have interacted with them in this way during their hiring process)
  • Tap Into the Expertise of Others- Family, older friends, and alumni with hiring experience are all valuable resources. You can also use LinkedIn to find people to reach out to.
  • Get Together- Form a small-group with people from your major where you go over practice questions together and take turns answering so that you can each see how others approach technical problems.
  • Practice the “How” and “Why”– Be prepared to not just complete questions and provide a solution, but to verbalize the ‘why’ and “how” you arrived at the answer. To add pressure and simulate a real interview you can time yourself or have someone else ask you the questions.
  • Admit When You Don’t Know Something- Companies know that you are still in school and learning so they don’t expect you to have all the answers. Saying you don’t know something allows the focus to shift to something you do know and is a great opportunity to express your eagerness to learn. Try to say something like “I don’t know, but here’s how I would figure it out…”
  • Ask Questions and Do Not Make Assumptions- Make sure you fully understand what is being asked. You don’t want to waste valuable time writing out code only to find out they wanted a different language. Just ask!
  • Talk Through the Solution Out Loud– Show your interviewer what you’re thinking! The point of this interview is for them to understand how your brain works and how you solve problems.

 

Additional resources to help you prepare:

Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Programming Interviews Exposed by John Mongan, Eric Giguere, and Noah Kindler.

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