How to prepare for technical interviews
When hiring for technical roles, recruiters have to ensure that every selected candidate has the right skill-set and fits with the organization's culture. Of course, some aspects of a candidate's fit with the company can be tested in profile checks and screening rounds. But to do a thorough skill assessment, technical interviews are required.
Although the format of the technical interview can vary as per the recruiting organization, the objective is the same – finding skilled talent.
This article will help you understand what a technical interview can entail and how you can effectively prepare for it.
What Do Technical Interviews Entail?
Technical interviews are often designed to measure applicants' technical skills and competencies. Since it is nearly impossible to do it in one sitting or with a single method, technical interviews are usually spread over different formats. These are:
Telephonic or Virtual Screening
This round follows your resume screening and can happen over the telephone or through video calling apps like Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, etc. The interviewer who conducts this round may have limited knowledge of the technical skills required for the relevant role. Therefore, the questions are basic and designed to screen you for further process. You may be asked to share your previous academic and professional experience and justify how you are a good fit for a particular role.
Technical Assignment or Task
Once you have cleared the telephonic or virtual screening round, you may be assigned a technical assignment. This round can happen either online or offline. So, at times you may have to do the assignment while being virtually connected with the recruiter. At other times, you may get to work in your own time and submit the assignment for evaluation through the mail.
Finally, if you successfully clear the previous two rounds, you will be asked to appear for a face-to-face interview round. This could be the longest and the most complex round, often conducted with line managers and technical experts. This round can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours for junior-level roles. But for senior technical positions, this round could extend to a series of interviews and may happen over one or more days.
Qualities to Demonstrate During a Technical Interview
As evident from the complex format and multiple-stage design of technical interviews, different aspects of your personality and skills are evaluated for a particular role at any given time. To make sure that you present your best abilities, these are the qualities to demonstrate during a technical interview round:
Conceptual Knowledge and Application Ability
The most important quality getting measured in a technical round is your conceptual knowledge and ability to transfer concepts to real-world applications. Even for the most direct technical questions, try to answer with examples and real-world scenarios to explain the concept. Be prepared to showcase your concept clarity during cross-questioning by logically building your response and sharing your assumptions with the recruiter.
Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Your verbal and spoken communication skills are evaluated during the face-to-face interview rounds and offline assignments. Make sure your communication is clear, understandable, and free of grammatical errors. Your body language should also project poise and confidence. At the same time, try to build a professional rapport with your recruiters to demonstrate good interpersonal skills.
Design Thinking and Problem Solving
Your ability to view problematic situations to find sustainable solutions is greatly valued in technical interviews. While facing technical questions, try to exhibit design thinking, logical reasoning, and a structured problem-solving process. If no direct opportunities exist, try to share past experiences where you successfully used your problem-solving ability.
Innovation and Creativity
Technical roles demand continual innovation and creative solutions to complex problems. Thus candidates with these qualities are highly sought after. Try to approach all questions creatively and present innovative solutions to your interviewers. With offline assignments, explore new and unique ways of finishing the given task and try to 'wow' your recruiters.
Try to learn about the company culture and workplace environment before facing even screening rounds. A startup may value cross-functionality, diversity, and dynamism in its workforce. A mature organization with a tall hierarchy may look for potential recruits' values, ethics, and compliance. If you are the right match for the organization, make sure to profess your opinions in the right tone.
How to Prepare for Technical Interviews
Now that you know what a technical interview process can be like and how you should behave during such an interview, here's how you should go about preparing for it:
Study the Job Description Carefully
Start by carefully studying the job description and understanding what the technical role will demand from you. A detailed job description can give hints about the recruiters' evaluation approach and the technical understanding that will be checked. You should also study the company, industry, and business model to handle any technical questions.
Identify the Skills and Tools You Will Be Tested on
Next, identify all the skills, competencies, and tools the recruiter has listed in the job description. For a coding role, you may have to know certain languages like Java, C++, or Python and frameworks or platforms to build the code on. Similarly, you may be tested on financial management basics, company valuation, merger process, and report writing for an investment banking role.
It's possible that the recruiter may not grill you on all the skills and tools mentioned in the job description. Still, identifying the skills specific to the job defines your syllabus and makes it easier to prepare for the interview in an organized manner.
Use Reliable Resources and Study Material to Prepare
Reference books and course notes are usually a good place to start studying. But, if you find your study material outdated or inadequate, you may refer to other reliable resources. Online training programs, self-assisted learning courses, videos, and niche forums can help you polish your basics in any technology.
Fresh graduates with no prior work experience often lay more emphasis on this step. However, this is an equally important step for experienced professionals as technology is ever-evolving.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Even when you are 100% prepared for a technical interview, the actual process can be stressful. You may forget the most fundamental concepts when facing indirect questions. Or, you may fumble with your response and get confused. But this can only happen if you have not practiced enough or haven't gone through mock drills of facing a technical round.
Thus, practice, practice, and more should be your mantra for preparation!
Several training and coaching service providers offer mock interview opportunities. You may also opt for automated technical interviews, wherein bots pose questions and get an objective assessment. If you have a technical expert friend who can do a mock interview practice with you, then call in a favor and try to expose yourself to all formats of questions and assignments.
Polish Your Soft Skills too
Finally, how you conduct yourself and how well you manage pressure are also measured during technical interviews. Interviewers respond positively to candidates who have good presentation skills, can showcase critical thinking and analytical ability, and are problem solvers. Therefore, don't ignore your soft skills while preparing for a technical round.
Remember, an interview is just like a conversation; you have to be an excellent conversationalist to make your point! So, when facing a technical interview, take your time to understand each question. Also, ask for more information if necessary, and try to work through every problem without feeling anxious.
These strategies can help you crack any technical interview. But even if you don't, don't lose heart! Review your process and performance, identify gaps and work towards improving as a technical professional.
To read more engaging content and get actionable career advice, visit the Cogent Info website.