How to Prepare for Your Technical Interview

Published: November 6, 2013 Author: Clearpoint Tags: Information Technology, Job Hunting

The technical interview can be an exciting step in the job process. Many companies reserve these long and complex interviews for top candidates--so if you've made it this far, your prospects are strong for landing the position you want.

Exciting as they are, technical interviews can also get stressful for both the candidate and the interviewer. The hiring company is often highly invested in this stage. And for the candidate, it can be nerve-wracking to prove your skills by answering tough questions and coding on demand.

It's essential to be as prepared as possible when you're headed into a technical interview. These tips and sample questions will help you bring your best game and dazzle recruiters.

General tips for technical interview prep

While technical interviews often focus on testing your skills, it's important to remember that it's still a job interview. Recruiters want to hire people who demonstrate genuine interest in the company itself, rather than just the job and the paycheck that comes with it. This means you'll have to do your homework.

Take some time to check out the company and the people who work there. Social media network like LinkedIn and Facebook are good places to start. You should also take a look at the company's profile and specifics about the position on Glassdoor.

Another great resource to arm yourself with details is the job listing itself. Human resource departments often put a lot of work into crafting a job description that will attract the right candidates--it will let you know just what they're looking for.

Once you've gathered all the information you can about the company, the position, and what they expect, decide how you're going to sell yourself to the recruiter. During the interview, you'll need to be able to communicate clearly why you're the best person for the job.

Sample technical interview questions

During a technical interview, you'll be asked a few typical candidate questions. But for the most part, the questions will focus on the technical side of the job. What you're asked will vary depending on the requirements of the position, but there are some common questions that many IT recruiters use for interviews.

Basic skills questions: This includes asking about what development and source control tools you've used, what languages you've programmed in, what automated-build processes you've worked with, and any other tech discipline that's relevant to the position.

Basic education and training questions: Recruiters will generally ask about your educational background, your technical certifications, and whether you follow any technical websites or publications.

Basic experience questions: You'll be asked in detail about your experiences on other jobs and projects. Many recruiters use open-ended questions for this category that start with "Tell me about½" and lead to your most recent project, the project you're most proud of, and the worst project you've worked on--along with how you overcame the challenges.

Basic self-evaluation questions: Be prepared to answer questions about your own assessment of your work, from rating your key competencies to discussing your IT strengths and weaknesses.

Basic knowledge questions: You'll likely be required to answer quiz-style questions, either as straight knowledge tests or example scenarios. These types of questions include things like:

  • Do you prefer service-oriented or batch-oriented solutions, and why?
  • What is a SAN (or clustering, or a honey pot, or transaction logs), and how is it used?
  • Explain the difference between OLAP and OTPL
  • What was the last utility you downloaded online to make your work more productive?
  • How do you ensure consistency across unit, production, and quality environments?
  • Explain the similarities and differences between SOAP and REST web services
  • In your opinion, what are the most important database performance metrics?

Coding prep for technical interviews

Live coding during a technical interview is often the most challenging part of the process. When it comes to coding questions, the interview techniques vary widely. Some companies use traditional processes or whiteboards, while some present creative problems to solve. Others use puzzles or gaming situations. And of course, the problems themselves depend on the programming languages and other technical requirements of the job.

In many cases, the coding portion is less about arriving at the "right" answer than it is about your approach to problem-solving. If you demonstrate skill, creativity, flexibility, and quick thinking while working the code problems, your chances of being hired increase greatly.

One way to prepare for coding problems in a technical interview is by entering programming contests. The Sphere Online Judge offers vast problem archives. You can write solutions in more than 40 different languages, and submit your code to an automated judge.

If you'd rather compete live, Topcoder hosts weekly contests along with archives of past contests. You could also try the annual Facebook Hacker Cup competition.

Preparing for a technical interview may seem like a lot of work, but the preparation is worth the effort to improve your chances of landing your dream job.

If you are looking for technical jobs in Houston TX, contact Clearpoint today.

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