So you got yourself that tech job interview you’ve been seeking? Congratulations!
However, in the ever increasingly competitive tech industry, how can you differentiate yourself from all the other fresh tech grads and coding bootcamp finishers?
This is crucial as the unemployment rate among tech workers bumped up from 1.7% in July 2022 to 2.3% in August 2022. Tech hiring slowed down from 372,000 to less than 320,000, within the same period.
In a very tight tech labor market, scoring a tech job interview is a very valuable opportunity as competition for dwindling IT positions intensifies. How can you ensure that the company you’re applying to will see you as a worthy candidate to add to their team?
Here are 5 tips on how you can ace your tech job interview, taken from our years of working with the biggest tech companies.
Tip 1: Do your due diligence.
One effective tip on how to ace your job interview with a tech recruiter is doing your due diligence. A lot of times, interviewees become too confident or too happy about getting their interview that they forget to educate themselves about what they’re walking into.
Applicants who dig deeper into the company they’re planning to interview for are more likely to proceed to the next rounds of the application process. Researching an employer beforehand allows you to learn about their business, clients, and industry. The information and insights you gain help build a stronger foundation during the tech job interview. It shows that you did your research but also spent time learning everything on this company or organization’s slate.
Reading the “About Us” page is not due diligence. You have to go beyond that to truly know the company. It’s crucial that you dive deep into their history, company culture, and their future plans, both long-term and short-term goals.
Studying the job description helps you understand what kind of employee they need, why they need those qualities, and how you fit in with the position you’re applying for.
Think of your skill set and qualities, and outline how those would benefit the company you’re applying to. You may want to bring some ideas to the table (think out of the box).
Doing your research gets you insight into the industry and how it pertains to your skillset. This makes for a more confident interviewee who knows what questions they need to ask during one of these chats – especially if there’s no general conversation yet with this person or company.
Tip 2: Practice and prepare.
There’s a reason why “practice makes perfect” is a mantra of society. Practice and preparation ensure better results, especially for job interviews. It’s a quality that most employers look for.
Do mock interviews. Mock interviews may seem traditional and outdated. But 92% of candidates believe mock interviews are one significant component of how to ace a job interview. In fact, 96% who had taken mock interviews to prepare for their tech job interview secured their desired positions.
Mock interviews are so crucial that Google even launched its own AI/ML-powered tool to help job applicants prepare.
Test your equipment. If you’re having a stage of the tech job interview through video conferencing or a phone call, make sure your devices and other equipment are fully set up to avoid interferences and interruptions.
There are a lot of cases where certain video conferencing software will require you to update your OS permissions to allow for screen sharing (in the case of a live coding or presentation session). Going the extra mile and testing that your permissions are accurately set well before the interview will prevent any delays in the meeting. It will also show a recruiter or hiring manager that you value their time. Soft skills!
Review past examples of your work. Do not repeat the bullet points in your resume. Rather, pick out your top achievements and work contributions, and see how they tie up to the job description.
Practice your answers to the most common interview questions. A tech job interview comes with both basic and complex answers. Recruiters have asked these questions a hundred times and heard hundreds of responses. How do you stand out? Here are some of the tips we’ve gathered from the pros:
- “Tell me about yourself.” – This is one of the most common questions during an interview.
- Keep your answer brief and focused.
- 1-2 sentences to describe your current role, followed by 1-2 sentences about your background.
- Wrap up your answer with a short description of your future goals and interest in the company.
- “An effective answer might take as little as 30 seconds.”
- Competency-based questions. Similar to scenario-based questions, interviewers ask competency-based queries to gauge a candidate’s specific skills. The main differentiator is that the responses are real-life examples and not hypothetical answers.
The best way to share stories of your successes and achievements through the STAR approach:
- Describe the situation.
- Explain your task.
- What action did you take?
- What was the result?
- Technical interview questions. It is always good practice to take the time to familiarize yourself with conceptual technical questions. The hiring manager will ask these questions based on the techs listed on your resume and those listed in the job description.
Demonstrating that you have a deeper understanding of the hows and whys within the techs you’re skilled in, will take you a lot further in the interview process. Do the research and study any necessary documentation. Google interview questions based on your skillset. Even if you don’t have formal experience in a particular tech listed in a job description, familiarizing yourself with what it is at a high level helps you pull similarities to something else they’ve used.
Tip 3: Be professional.
Make sure that even during the interview, you’ve already shown professionalism and proper conduct.
Dress like them. Do not wear a suit to an interview when it’s not called for. For many tech companies hiring, it’s often a semi-formal attire that shows you can be professional without looking out of place.
You can also try, during your research, to check the company’s social media profile and see hints of how they dress. By wearing an attire that adheres to their dress code, you can show them that you belong there. When in doubt, check with your recruiter in regards to the attire.
Be 15 minutes ahead of time. If you’re 5 minutes early, you’re already late! Make sure to give yourself a 10-15 minute cushion of time before the interview. This will also demonstrate your understanding of professionalism in the workplace.
Expect a multi-step, multi-day interview. Do not show your interviewer irritability or boredom with a multi-step, multi-day process.
Don’t panic about tests. A good tip is to ask the interviewer if there are any practice exams you can take prior to taking the actual test. If the test is on a popular platform such as HackerRank, these practice exams will be readily available to you for preparation.
Pretend it’s your first day. The tech world lives and breathes in team-oriented environments. Have you ever heard of a single individual creating an ENTIRE application front to back? Showcasing your ability to work in a collaborative environment will make all the difference when the hiring manager makes the final decision.
Tip 4: Be inquisitive.
At some point during your tech job interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions. ‘No’ is the wrong answer. Zero questions may make the interviewer perceive you as disinterested and clueless. Don’t waste this chance to talk about things you’re interested in, especially in their company.
Prepare at least five questions to ask your interviewer. Some good examples are:
- What are the company’s goals?
- What does a typical day look like for the new role?
- What do you enjoy most about working for [company name]?
- In your experience, what qualities make for the most successful team members?
Tip 5: Remember the importance of soft skills.
Showcase your soft skills. Soft skills (common skills or core skills) are skills related to how you work. Even with your technical and problem-solving skills, employers will still look at your soft skills. Most notable examples are your capabilities with critical thinking, public speaking, professional writing, and intercultural fluency – as well as overcoming challenges, handling mistakes you’ve made, and accommodating a colleague’s working style in order to finish a project. You can leverage the STAR approach to emphasize your soft skills to your interviewer.
Good communication is one of the most important soft skills an employee could have. It encompasses a lot of aspects of your employment:
- How can you make sure you are understood when describing complex technical problems to others?
- How adept are you at simplifying and sharing your knowledge with non-tech professionals?
- Develop this skill and, if you can, ask for your interviewer’s feedback on how concise and clear you are.
And don’t forget to smile!
Bonus Tip: Don’t wing it.
You can wing it, but that is a massive risk to take, especially for a massive opportunity like a tech job interview.
If you’re experiencing nerves, don’t panic! Practice makes perfect. Try recording yourself as you prepare for your interview or seek the aid of a friend/family member to give yourself an audience as you work through any nerves. Remember not to overthink the tech job interview and focus on what makes you feel confident.
In most cases, you will be required to go through several interviews which encompass not only your technical skills, but also your soft skills. Winging it can prevent the hiring manager from moving you forward in the interview process. Coming prepared will better help you in securing the next round interview.
An Alternative to Endless Interviews
Recent statistics have found that only 20% of 118 applicants, across industries, get a call for an interview. Securing a tech job interview is incredibly a great opportunity for you to break through the tech sector.
Thus, it’s important that you know how to ace an interview, stand out from the competition, and impress your recruiters. Following these professional tips on acing a tech job interview will exponentially increase your likelihood of getting further in the application process:
- Due diligence
- Coming to the interview prepared
- Being professional
- Being inquisitive
- The importance of having soft skills, especially good communication
But sometimes, we can’t do it all on our own. Sometimes, we need a helping hand.
The competition for IT positions has become increasingly rough as tech hiring eases. CS grads, bootcamp finishers, and even veterans from other industries are struggling to land tech job interviews. For those who did, many don’t get called back.
Smoothstack changes the playing field by offering individuals with raw tech skills opportunities that will railroad them into the tech sector. Candidates who possess potential for certain tech positions are entered into our “Hire-Train-Place” model, where they are thoroughly evaluated, screened, and trained based on our clients’ tech stack.
The Smoothstack program is an intensive and immersive 12-14 week curriculum that is built on our client’s tech framework. Candidates who successfully complete the program gain 2-3 year experience equivalency and guaranteed job placement in companies with a 98.3 retention rate. On top of that, all Smoothstack participants enjoy access to Smoothstack’s wide network in the tech industry and connections to the leading tech professionals and business leaders.
With Smoothstack, you get a fast track to a tech job, without having to go through endless interviews where you get rejected or don’t get called back.
Smoothstack amplifies human potential and drives the technology of tomorrow by providing a diverse, predictable, and merit-driven pipeline of excellent new talent.Discover the Smoothstack advantage now. Click here to learn more.