Many applicants do not realize that the most important step in landing a job is to thoroughly prepare for interviews with potential employers. You can be an outstanding professional with a brilliant resume and tens of years of work experience, but your chances of getting a job can still be ruined by an insignificant mistake made during an interview. Research conducted by marketing company Reboot Online shows that technology companies have some of the hardest screening programs for new candidates. On average, 39% of candidates get rejected due to their overall confidence level, and 47% of the candidates are rejected due to a lack of knowledge about the company they applied to. So, thousands of IT professionals wonder how to pass technical interviews and get their dream jobs. By doing some preparation, you can boost your confidence and increase your chances of passing a software developer interview. In this article, you will learn how to prepare for a technical job interview for a software engineer position even if it’s your first interview.
Interview Preparation for Software Developer Job
The tech job interview is unlike any other interview: it is a specialized and rigorous process designed to test your coding, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Most of the time, tech interviews involve challenges and practical assignments. It’s important to understand that tech companies don’t aim to trick you with riddles or impossible questions. They want to test your abilities to solve real-life problems similar to the ones you might be facing once you get a job. Therefore, it is essential to prepare in advance to make a positive impression. So, let’s look at what you should do prior to the scheduled interviews.
Before the job interview:
Research the company
Make sure that you have some basic knowledge about the company. It does not only show your interest in the company but also helps you to understand how well the company’s values align with your expectations. It is usually useful to know:
- The company’s products and services
- The key players in the market as well as its closest competitors
- The company’s mission and values
- News and recent events about the company
- The skills and knowledge the company values
Know who you will be talking with
In most cases, you will be interviewed by a recruiter, hiring manager, or your direct supervisor. Do online research to determine your interviewer’s role in the company. If your interviewer is a recruiter or hiring manager expect more general questions. A direct supervisor will most likely ask specific questions related to your role and industry.
Look over the job description
Make sure you know your responsibilities. Understanding what the employer is looking for will help you to answer some of the interview questions such as the one below:
“Why do you think you are the best fit for this position?”
The smart answer would mention the required qualifications and explain how your skills and work experience are related to them. Moreover, doing research about the company will ensure you answer in a knowledgeable way when referring to the company.
Consider your salary expectations
It is always better to think in advance about what salary you expect to get paid so that this question does not put you or your interviewer in an uncomfortable situation. Research the average salary in your industry. When answering a question, be honest but reasonable. It’s often wise to offer an employer a salary range. This will show your interviewer that you are flexible.
Consider possible job interview questions and think about the answers
Interviewers usually ask general questions such as “tell me about yourself” and “what is your greatest strength and weakness”. Be prepared for such questions, but make sure that you sound authentic and not someone who copied answers from the internet. We recommend reading an article by Indeed that is listing 125 common interview questions with tips.
The 3-Step Hiring Process in Tech
Often an interview will come in three stages:
- Phone screen interview
- Technical screen interview
- Onsite interview
Once you pass the first stage, you will be invited to the second stage and so on. Recruiters always recommend preparing for each stage of the interview as a successful pass of one stage will increase your chances of getting invited to the next stage and eventually getting a job. So, let’s look at the tips of how to pass each of the interview stages.
Phone screen interview is the first stage of the 3-step hiring process in tech. Phone interviews are just as important as in-person interviews, so carefully preparing for them can influence your chances of getting a job. So, let’s discuss what is a phone screen interview and how to prepare and successfully pass this stage. The purpose of a phone interview is to check if you are qualified and enthusiastic enough about the job and the company. You’ll be usually invited to a phone screening interview once the company checked and liked your resume. During the phone interview expect general questions about your background, your interest in the position and the company, as well as your availability (travel, schedule) and salary expectations. So, let’s look at the most helpful phone screen interview tips.
Focus and eliminate all distractions
Make sure you choose a quiet place and have all your preparation materials nearby. You should feel comfortable, but don’t get too comfortable. Turn off TV, ask your relatives/friends to not disturb you. Make sure your phone is charged and connected to WiFi. Have a glass of water handy in case you need it.
Many candidates wonder about how to start an interview. To make a positive impression, start with a polite greeting and thank an interviewer for taking time to talk to you. Your voice should sound enthusiastic and interested.
Give descriptive answers but don’t dominate the conversation
The interviewer is trying to understand whether you are a good fit by how you sound. Being confident is good but being overly confident turns people off. Listen carefully and don’t interrupt. Answer and ask questions but don’t make it a monologue. Let the interviewer guide the conversation.
Don’t forget to send a thank you email
Remember phone screening is about making a good first impression. Companies usually have tens of applicants, so you need to find a way to stand out. By writing a short but thoughtful follow up email you remind an interviewer about your candidacy and show your interest in the next steps.
Technical Screen Interview
Once you pass the phone screening interview, you will most likely be invited to the technical screen interview. So, what is a technical interview? Unlike phone screening that tests your interest and availability to work for a company, technical screen interview is designed to test your knowledge and practical skills. You should not expect to hear many general questions such as – “why are you interested in the job”, but questions about your competency and experience. The interviewer is usually an IT professional who knows a lot about the niche you are applying for. Technical interviewer knows what type of knowledge and skills the company needs. So, the technical interview practice should include preparation for the questions about your theoretical and practical IT skills.
Questions asked during a technical screen interview can fall under several sections:
Example: Tell me about a time when you had multiple situations to manage. How did you respond to this situation?
Questions about your education
Example: How did your education prepare you for this position?
Example: What would you do if you were asked to perform a task you’ve never done before?
Questions about your tech knowledge and experience
Example: What technical language are you most comfortable with?
An efficient way to answer tech screening questions is to use STAR technique. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Read below for a more detailed description of the STAR method.
Using this technique of answering questions allows you to provide concrete examples and proof that you have experience and knowledge for the job at hand.
Once you successfully pass phone and technical screening, you will most likely be invited to an onsite interview. Onsite interview is a critical stage in getting a job. Meeting an interviewer in person may be intimidating but it’s also a great opportunity to make a lasting impression. Here are some of the suggested steps to take to prepare for onsite interview:
- Dress professionally
- Make sure to arrive early
- Bring a few copies of your resume
- Study common interview questions
- Practice sample problems
- Prepare a list of your own questions
Some companies may conduct one or a series of onsite interviews that may last from 2-3 hours to a whole day. Typically, you will be invited to the office and asked to perform a series of tasks. Therefore, it is essential to practice sample problems in advance to ensure a successful pass.
Job Interview Questions: Examples
Now that we discussed the three-step hiring process, let’s look at the sample questions asked during tech interviews.
Entry-level Software Developer Questions:
- Which programming languages do you prefer?
- What projects are you currently working on?
- What was the development process of one of your previous projects?
- What is an abstract class, and why would you use it?
- What does a CSS style sheet do?
Check Indeed’s article for more entry-level software developer interview questions.
Senior-level Software Developer Questions:
- What is your biggest professional success so far?
- What are the differences between object-oriented and functional programming?
- Based on what you know about the company, how do you plan to reach goals with your team?
- How do you ensure software projects stay within forecasted budgets?
- What factors do you consider when designing inventory management systems?
Check Indeed’s article for more senior software developer interview questions.