Interviews

As someone who has gone to many interviews and now interviewing new employees I have experienced many different techniques.

These points are mainly for people going for roles as a developer/engineer.

First thing to point out is that your skills and experience are only about 60% of the decision making process. The other 40% is your personality and attitude. If you have got through to the interview stage then they think that your experience is good enough from your CV.
They will ask technical questions but an important part is not only the answers but also how well they think you will fit into their existing team.

TURN UP ON TIME.
Yes its an obvious one but it still amazes me how many people don’t. The people interviewing want someone in as they have to much work to do and having to wait for you to turn up is making their job harder.

Dress smart.
I know you are going for a developer role which is renowned for shorts, tee-shirt and flip flops, but its better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. Jeans and a shirt may be enough but you never know who is going to be sitting in on the interview too.

Read the job role your are interviewing for.
If there is anything on there they have asked for which you do not know, research it.
1 hour looking up a new system or framework will help when you are explaining that you have not used what they have asked for regularly but have played with it at home. It shows you are willing to learn on your own time showing you are dedicated to improving your skills.

Know the company.
Yes, even though you have never heard of them before, research as much as you can about the company. Whats on twitter, blogs, news etc. Find positive things they have done and bring them up in the interview.

Be passionate about your job.
Nothing is better than a person that loves what they do. Someone that just wants to work 9 – 5 and collect the pay check at the end of the month is someone that isn’t looking for a new challenge. This isn’t usually a problem in the tech industry as with other industries as technology is fast moving and we all have to work hard to keep up with the times.

Talk about your experience.
No matter how smart you are, experience is what makes a good developer. Even the bad ones are useful as you learned how to resolve the problem, though try to talk about more positive ones.

Resist talking negatively about anyone.
This includes previous work colleagues, companies, anyone. It only looks bad on you.

Eye contact
is common advice for interviews though don’t focus on this too much. You will spend too much time trying to keep eye contact instead of concentrating on what you are actually saying.

Ask questions.
The daunting end of the interview where you need to find some questions to ask to show you understand the job and the company. Try to think of some before the interview and try to ask them during the interview if they are relevant to what you are talking about. If your questions were answered during the interview and you have none left at the end, that’s fine. You have shown you understand the job role and trying to find another question just so you say something looks worse.
Try to keep away from your pay at this point. Get them wanting you before you talk about how much you are worth.

One thing I do is ask the interviewee to find a solution to a problem.
Getting the perfect answer is not that important, its how well they describe their method of finding a solution and how easily they take on advice when I try to push them to a better answer.
So this is an example:

You have an array of numbers from 1 to 1 million. 1 number is missing in that array.
How do you programatically work out the missing number.

They may ask questions like “is the array sorted” which gives me an indication they understand the problem.
So the obvious answer here is to loop through the array to find the missing number. Its what most people will say so I will then ask if they can find a quicker solution.
I will then suggest a binary tree solution which hopefully they understand by cutting the array in half and seeing which side of the array is smaller etc.

If they get to this point by themselves I will then try and push for the perfect answer which works with an unsorted array too.

$missing_number = array_sum(range(1,1000000)) - array_sum($original_array);

As I say, finding the perfect solution is not the goal of the interview, its how well you can communicate together and get to a better solution than looping through every element.

So hopefully this will help you with your interviews and the main point to remember is to relax.

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