Friday April 16, 2021 By David Quintanilla
Seven Mistakes To Avoid In Your Technical Interviews — Smashing Magazine

It’s no secret that the technical interview course of leaves one thing to be desired; it’s typically riddled with nervousness and stress. On this article, we’ll check out seven of the commonest errors candidates make of their technical interviews and discover methods you possibly can keep away from them.

I’ve failed many technical interviews. 12 months after 12 months would cross and I’d slowly progress in my technical interviewing expertise. It wasn’t till I acquired my dream job supply from Spotify and had handed the Google technical interviews that I noticed how a lot I had discovered over the previous years. Lastly, my learning had paid off! This was additionally across the time that many builders started shedding their jobs as a result of COVID.

“If I’ve problem passing knowledge buildings and algorithms interviews with a pc science diploma,” I believed, “I can’t think about how overwhelming these ideas have to be for self-taught builders.” So for the previous 12 months, I’ve made it my mission to make knowledge buildings and algorithms approachable for everybody.

I discovered it extremely tough to seek out one useful resource for studying every thing concerning the technical interview course of. From the recruiter’s cellphone name to the techniques design interview to negotiating a job supply, there was no all-encompassing technical interview useful resource, so I made a decision to create one.

A Be aware About Distant Interviews

Because of the world pandemic, many firms have gone absolutely distant. That is nice because it permits candidates the world over to use, however this may be daunting for candidates who’ve little-to-no expertise with on-line interviews.

Listed below are just a few ideas on your digital interviews.

  • Arrive early.
    There’s nothing extra panic-inducing than going to hitch a web-based assembly and realizing it’s essential obtain a whole bundle of drivers to run this system. I like to recommend creating an account with the assembly utility forward of time and operating a check assembly with a pal to make sure you have entry to the applying and really feel snug utilizing the web controls.
  • Use headphones.
    I all the time advocate utilizing headphones on your distant technical interviews. They’ll assist cut back background noise and make sure you hear the instructors clearly.
  • Cost your laptop.
    Distant assembly instruments can shortly drain your laptop battery, particularly for those who’re dwell coding. To fight this, have your laptop plugged in for everything of the interview if attainable.
  • Check your digicam.
    Whereas distant interviews enable us to be in a secure and acquainted setting, we are able to typically neglect to take away unsavory objects from the background of our video body. I all the time counsel operating a check assembly to test your video body and take away the soiled laundry from the background. You may also use a digital background on your distant interview in case your background shouldn’t be best.
A picture of how a personal workspace could look like
Investing in a private workspace is value it: with an honest digicam, good lighting, an excellent microphone and a cushty setup. (Large preview)

The Technical Interview Course of

Whenever you start the technical interview course of with an organization, your recruiter ought to inform you about what it’s best to count on from the method. One cause why technical interviews are so anxiety-inducing is the dearth of course of standardization. A technical interview at one firm can look extremely totally different from a technical interview at one other firm. However there are some commonalities between technical interview processes which you can put together for.

Here’s a generalized model of the technical interview course of that you just’re prone to see in your upcoming interviews.

Recruiter Telephone Interview

Your first interview shall be a recruiter cellphone interview. Throughout this name you’ll talk about the job, the corporate, and what you possibly can count on from the interview course of. Don’t take this interview evenly: all interviews within the technical interview course of are very important to touchdown you a job supply. Should you don’t appear excited concerning the position a recruiter may not transfer you ahead to the following section of the method.

Should you’re making use of to many various job openings, I like to recommend maintaining a spreadsheet of the roles, firms, recruiter info, and any related info. You must refer again to your notes previous to the recruiter cellphone interview to make sure you’re well-informed and go away an awesome impression.

Technical Screening

If the recruiter’s cellphone interview goes effectively you’ll seemingly transfer right into a technical screening interview. This interview could also be asynchronous the place you don’t work together with a human interviewer and as a substitute full the coding problem on a platform with a time restrict, or you’ll have a dwell interviewer.

Firms usually conduct technical screenings to make sure a candidate has the baseline technical information required to thrive in a job. It may be costly to totally interview each single candidate so a technical screening is a option to cut back the candidate pool.

You’ll be coding on this interview so it’s vital to really feel assured in your foundational programming language.

Take House Undertaking

Some firms require a take-home coding mission in lieu of a coding problem, or along with a coding problem (once more, all processes are totally different so seek the advice of your recruiter for the specifics).

Coding initiatives are a polarizing matter: some candidates love them whereas different candidates discover them unfair. On one aspect, coding initiatives mean you can showcase your expertise in a extra pure setting, utilizing the instruments you’re keen on. Then again, these initiatives generally is a means for an organization to obtain free (typically unpaid) labor.

Many candidates with households, a number of jobs, or different time-consuming commitments seemingly don’t have the time obligatory to finish a take-home coding mission, which might result in an unfair benefit for candidates with out the identical obligations.

Should you’re tasked with a take-home mission and should not have the time required to dedicate to it, you possibly can ask the recruiter if there’s an alternate. It may additionally be value asking if you can be compensated on your time spent on this interview (some firms pays you, though all of them ought to).

On-Website Interviews

The “on-site” interview section is probably going the final section earlier than in the end receiving a job supply or a rejection. Many firms used to fly candidates to their workplaces for a full day of interviews, however because of the pandemic, these interviews are being held nearly.

Many candidates discover the on-site interviews to be essentially the most demanding because it requires you to take a trip day out of your present position to finish them. You’ll seemingly have three or 4 interviews (usually a half-day) consisting of a course of/values/collaboration interview (how do you collaborate together with your staff, how do you resolve conflicts) and coding interviews.

The on-site interviews are demanding so bear in mind to take breaks and decompress earlier than every interview.

Notes On The Interview Course of

The technical interview course of is intense and may go away you burned out. Be sure you’re taking time to decompress after every interview and replicate on the way it went. Had been there interviews you struggled with greater than others? In that case, concentrate on these areas on your subsequent interview course of; some recruiters will even offer you interviewer suggestions so you possibly can hyperfocus your learning.

You also needs to replicate on the way you felt in the course of the interview course of. Did the interviewers make you are feeling secure and cozy? Was this even a piece setting you’d thrive in? Keep in mind that technical interviews are a two-way road.

Now that we’ve detailed the technical interview course of, let’s dive into the seven errors candidates generally make, and ideas for avoiding them.

Mistake #1: Not Speaking Successfully

Technical interviews are purported to measure your communication and problem-solving talents, not essentially whether or not you achieved the optimum, working answer to a coding problem. Drawback-solving is all about communication, however do you know that every tradition has a distinct definition of what it means to be a “good communicator?”

There are two various kinds of communication:

  • Low-context
    Very specific, redundant, and straight to the purpose. Messages are said clearly and ought to be interpreted at face worth.
  • Excessive-context
    Extra ambiguous the place listeners are anticipated to learn between the traces (or learn the air) and interpret the hidden message.
    Low-context communication is

Throughout a technical interview, it’s crucial to observe low-context communication, no matter the way you’re used to speaking. Should you want a second to assume, inform your interviewer. Should you need assistance, ask for it!

Usually candidates don’t transfer on to the following interview section as a result of they failed to speak successfully. Should you consider the interview as a dialog slightly than an examination, you’re extra prone to talk successfully.

Mistake #2: Not Admitting When You Don’t Know The Reply

Should you don’t know the reply to one thing, admit it! Interviewers admire when a candidate is self-aware and humble sufficient to confess they don’t know the reply to one thing. It’s significantly better to confess you don’t know one thing than to “BS” your means via it.

Should you’re uncertain the way to reply a query you possibly can say, “To be sincere I’m undecided. If I needed to make an informed guess I’d say…” Individuals don’t wish to work with “know-it-all”s; they wish to work with actual people who can admit they don’t know the reply.

Mistake #3: Cramming The Evening Earlier than An Interview

Let’s be sincere: we’ve all crammed for an interview the night time earlier than. It’s exhausting to make time to interview however the actuality is that interviewing is a ability (sadly) and it have to be practiced.

Though you may really feel such as you’ve discovered one thing while cramming the night time earlier than an interview, this studying is risky and superficial. Our mind solely encodes info into short-term reminiscence once we cram the night time earlier than an interview. Which means all that info you simply “discovered” will dissipate shortly after the interview. Thus, it’s higher on your long-term reminiscence to perform a little learning within the weeks main as much as an interview than cram the night time earlier than.

Moreover, you’re extra prone to regurgitate info than really perceive it. It is going to turn into obvious in a short time for those who’re simply reciting info you memorized versus working via an answer.

One technique for efficient studying is to make use of context-switching as a software. Whereas switching contexts within the midst of studying a brand new ability appears ineffective, it’s really the best studying software. Whenever you context-switch throughout studying, it’s tougher for our mind to recall info, in the end strengthening the encoded info and making it simpler to recall in the long term.

If you wish to learn extra about efficient studying strategies listed below are just a few sources that helped me:

Mistake #4: Memorizing Code For Algorithms & Knowledge Constructions

Candidates typically really feel they need to memorize code for algorithms and knowledge buildings, however the actuality of it’s you seemingly gained’t must code this stuff from scratch. Regurgitating code shouldn’t be a helpful ability and your interviewer will be capable to inform you’ve merely memorized an answer. As an alternative, it’s best to intention to know the method of what you’re carrying out.

Moreover, you don’t have to be taught each single sorting and looking algorithm ever invented. As an alternative, you possibly can decide the optimum answer for various knowledge buildings and be taught the ideas behind it. For instance, for those who’re requested to type an array of integers, you may know {that a} divide-and-conquer algorithm like merge type or fast type is a superb answer. Should you perceive the idea of how an algorithm or knowledge construction works, you possibly can construct the answer.

Lastly, most coding interviews shall be performed within the foundational programming language (even when an organization is searching for a React/Vue.js developer): you seemingly is not going to be requested to code utilizing a framework or library, so be sure to’re assured in your foundational programming information.

Mistake #5: Overlooking The “Cultural Match” Interview

All interviews all through the technical interview course of are vital, nonetheless, there appears to be a concentrate on knowledge buildings and algorithms. And whereas knowledge buildings and algorithms are an vital space to review, it’s best to give the opposite interviews within the course of the identical consideration: Don’t prioritize knowledge buildings and algorithms over different “simpler” interviews just like the “collaboration and course of.

The “tradition match” interview is supposed to discern the way you collaborate and deal with conflicts in a staff. You’ll seemingly obtain questions akin to:

“Inform me a couple of time a mission you had been engaged on failed. Why did it fail and the way did you progress ahead?”


“Inform me a couple of time you had a battle with a staff member. How did you resolve it?”

Write down your responses to those questions and observe answering them out loud. You don’t wish to sound rehearsed however you wish to be succinct and never ramble. Maintain your response to a couple sentences. Moreover, eye contact and physique language are vital.

Strive to not fidget and concentrate on making eye contact together with your interviewer!

Mistake #6: Beginning With The Optimized Answer

Until you might be 110% assured in essentially the most optimized answer for a coding problem, you don’t have to start out with essentially the most optimized answer. Candidates typically assume they’ve to start out with an optimum answer and it journeys them up. They get caught and may’t transfer ahead. As an alternative, begin with a non-optimal answer and say:

“I do know this isn’t essentially the most performant answer however I want to get a working answer and refactor it for efficiency later within the interview.”

Your interviewer will admire your honesty and regard to efficiency. You’ll additionally be capable to make progress extra shortly, and in an interview, small wins can have a big impact in your self-confidence and general efficiency.

Mistake #7: Overlooking Programming Foundations

Candidates for front-end developer roles neglect their HTML and CSS expertise to prioritize JavaScript, however extra interviews are testing information of the foundational programming expertise so don’t neglect them.

We frequently neglect the foundations and skip to the extra expert-level framework and libraries however this may hinder our interview efficiency. Interviews are performed within the foundational languages (i.e. JavaScript, not React/Vue.js), so don’t neglect the foundations.


Everybody has nervousness over the technical interview course of however by being conscious of those seven errors, you possibly can enhance your possibilities of touchdown a job supply.

When you do obtain a job supply you possibly can determine whether or not or not you wish to negotiate. There are lots of issues you possibly can negotiate: paid break day: working hours, fairness, signing bonus, job title, and wage are only a few.

When negotiating a job supply it’s vital to do your analysis. How a lot does somebody on this position (and on this geographic location) make yearly? You should use Glassdoor to do some market analysis.

Glassdoor screenshot
Glassdoor has turn into a place-to-go to test on firm tradition, salaries, processes and groups all world wide. (Large preview)

You also needs to acknowledge that the recruiter has constraints and may not be capable to get you a better wage. As an alternative, you possibly can ask for a signing bonus or fairness, however be ready for them to say they’ll’t enhance your supply.

You must concentrate on “why” it’s best to obtain further wage or advantages; what do you carry to the desk that another person gained’t?

Lastly, don’t give a recruiter an ultimatum, i.e. “Should you don’t give me this wage, I’ll stroll away.” As an alternative, concentrate on the truth that you need to hitch the staff however want an enchancment/change to the supply to just accept.

Right here’s an instance e mail you may use to ask for a base wage enhance:

“Thanks a lot for the supply. I’m genuinely thrilled and searching ahead to becoming a member of the staff. Earlier than I settle for the supply I’d like to debate the bottom wage. I’m an lively member within the technical group and train quite a few programs on-line with X studying platforms. I do know that my in depth information of Y will significantly profit the staff. As such I’m searching for a base wage within the vary of A to B. Please let me know if we are able to make this work and I’ll signal the supply immediately!”

Should you don’t get a job supply, don’t fear! Virtually everybody will get rejected for a place at one time or one other; you’re not alone! Take a while to replicate in your interviews and decide what areas you possibly can enhance for the following spherical of interviews.

If you wish to be taught extra about knowledge buildings, algorithms, coding initiatives, tradition match interviews, techniques design interviews, and extra, take a look at my new e-book, “De-Coding The Technical Interview Process”. This e-book has been a ardour of mine for the previous 12 months and has helped many builders land a job supply (together with myself)!

Be affected person with your self. You are able to do this!

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