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Mastering the Technical Interview

Smiling confident Indian coder

Interviews for IT positions aren’t like standard job interviews, typically involving coding challenges and assignments.

In a technical job interview, you must prove you have the abilities essential to succeed in the position instead of just telling the interviewer you have the necessary skills and experience. The objective of the technical interview shouldn’t be to trick applicants with riddles or impossible questions. Instead, it’s to get a sense of how applicants can deal with real-world problems like the ones associated with the open position.

It helps to know what you’re up against before walking in for a technical interview. Below is a short list of interview stages for the standard technical position hiring process.

3 Tips for Technical Interviews

The Phone Interview

Happy smiling bearded successful eastern etthnic indian professional business man talking on cell phone, eastern businessman making mobile phone call by cellphone at work. Close up view.

After grabbing the attention of a potential employer with your resume, the phone interview is your first opportunity to make a strong personal impression. In the phone interview, you can show off your tech knowledge to a degree. More importantly, the phone screen is an opportunity to show off your soft skills, like verbal communication and the ability to research.

If a non-technical manager or employee contacts you, focus on conveying soft skills and avoid getting too technical. If you’re talking to someone with whom you share a technical background, go ahead and show off your IT knowledge.

Coding Assignment

Some businesses will want to evaluate your coding abilities with an initial test before having you come in for a more comprehensive coding challenge.

In addition to a video interview and/or web-based code editor, some businesses will give you a live, monitored coding task to see your process. And some companies may give you a takeaway assignment that must be done within a set time limit.

With a real-time challenge, taking your time, thinking everything through, and trying to work with your interviewer as much as possible is essential. Verbalize your thought process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

For a takeaway assignment, read the directions multiple times before getting started, and review them once more when you’re done; to ensure you’ve done everything you were asked to do.

The Technical Interview

For the typical IT positions, the interview involves a face-to-face consultation with coding tasks you must complete, typically on a whiteboard, in front of one or more interviewers.

If anything needs clarification at the outset, ask questions before writing any code. You may receive hints from your interviewers, and a good interviewer will appreciate you taking the time to assess the question entirely. Try to see the big picture for the coding assignment and take a bottom-up approach.

Be sure to talk through your coding process. If you hit a dead-end or get stuck, don’t panic, and try a range of different approaches. Even if you can’t complete the problem, you can still make a good impression by talking through a good thought process.

Whatever you do, don’t try to bluff or lie your way through this type of interview.

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