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5 Tips to Master Your Next Interview!

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

5 EASY tips to take your interview skills to the next level and land your dream job! Find out how to prep for your next interview and demonstrate what an interviewer wants to hear. Be sure not to miss the BONUS tip!

Whether you are interviewing for your first job or are later in your career, these 5 tips are going to help you prepare and stand-out during your next technical interview!

*Don’t miss the BONUS tip at the end*

1. Know the Topics on your CV

Typically, an interview starts with some questions to get to know you. These will likely include some standard questions asked to all candidates, but also some tailored to your CV and listed experience. They are looking to see how much depth you have on the topics and understand the scope of your work.

A good rule of thumb is: If you say you know something on your CV, then expect to be asked questions about it!

If you aren’t as confident you can demonstrate your understanding, then build your knowledge in those areas or consider refining your resume by taking it out.

Tools like LeetCode, GeeksForGeeks, and Cracking the Coding Interview are great to help you prepare for technical questions and get some insight into the interviewing process at different companies.

your next interview

2. Prep competency questions – these are the “easy points” (in comparison to the technical question)

Questions about your CV are typically accompanied by competency questions. Competency questions are those that sound like “Tell me about a time when…”. For example, “Tell me about a time when you had to solve a difficult problem?” or “Tell me about a time when you delivered a project in a group”. They are designed to evaluate your workplace skills, values, and how you respond to different situations.

Start by researching the competencies of the companies you are applying to. They can often be found on their careers site, job descriptions, or early interview questionnaires. If they do not share them, try to infer them based on descriptions of their approach and selling points.

Some examples are:

your next interview

Use the STAR method to format a response for each competency highlighted by the organization you’ve applied to. It is a highly recognized and recommended approach because it keeps your answer succinct and provides all the key information that an interviewer would want to know.

To use the STAR method, provide the Situation, Task, Action, and Result of a relevant experience to form your response:

Situation | Set the context of the story. What was the challenge or background of the situation?

Task | Identify what was required of you to overcome a challenge or be successful

Action | Share what actions you took to resolve the problem

Result | Tell them how the situation was resolved. Share clear success metrics

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3. Plan your solutions

When you move onto the technical section, remember interviewers are not just looking for a working solution to a technical problem, they are also looking to see if you take a logical and thoughtful approach.

The first thing you want to do is pause…take time to think about the problem. Ask clarifying questions to understand the scope of the problem. Avoid making assumptions which could complicate your solution or take you off track entirely.

Before you start to code, come up with a plan and describe your approach (eg. with pseudo-code). Depending on the question type, it may be worth drawing out a rough diagram of the component parts and how they interact.

This is a good time to call out edge cases (even write them down) that you may run across. And as you develop, take those edge cases into account, or at least call out how you would modify the code to resolve that edge case.

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4. Explain your process OUT LOUD

For technical questions this is essential.

Explain your logical plan to solve the problem, performance consideration, debugging process, what issues you encounter as you develop and ways to get around them, etc.

It’s like showing your steps in a math class to get partial points. The interviewer can only mark what they see and hear. Help the interviewer know what you are thinking so even if you don’t finish in time, they know where you are going and that you could finish given more time.

your next interview

5. Taking the Interviewer’s Hints

If you get stuck and the interviewer starts to prompt you by asking questions or even giving direction, take their hints! The interviewer is trying to help you continue demonstrating your technical skills and solve the problem.

Take it as an opportunity to highlight your coachability and how quickly you can learn from their hint to identify the solution.

Engineers don’t have the answers all the time – don’t get too stressed if you get a bit stuck. Just focus on breaking down the problem and moving forward.

your next interview

Bonus: Avoid Overcomplicating the Solution

Often people get sidetracked with over-optimizations, scenarios not presented by the interviewer, or an expansion of scope beyond the problem. This can be especially tempting if you are trying to really impress, however it can mean you run out of time and don’t answer the actual problem.

Stay focused on the initial task first before moving onto expansions. If you are unsure if you should be considering something, ask the interviewer if it is important at this stage. Alternatively, explain what you would do to do the things you have in mind without having to invest the time to implement the solution.

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