Acing that Technical Interview

By pearl - November 30, 2014

I will start by saying, I kinda suck at interviewing, mainly because I hate it. I think just like taking exams and test, it is not a great way to actually know a person's credentials and capabilities. I say this especially after being at both ends of the table. Some people are just great at interviews and not necessarily a great match. Others offcourse might have been a great match but were just really nervous. Unfortunately, there has to be interviews. Companies can't just take your word for it and call it a day. So learning to be great at interviews is a skill I actually wish they could teach in college.

I interviewed for ALOT of Tech companies throughout my career, and unlike most other interviews, technical interviews are more challenging because you get quizzed, mind bugged and tested to know your skill level. My very first interview was for an internship with Google. This was back when I was in community college. One of the requirements for this position was to be in a 4 year college, but they kindly made an exception for me.#1 Lesson, Apply anyway, even if you don't meet all the requirements. Men needless to say it sucked so bad I cried for hours after the interview. It was two 45 minutes interviews back to back, where I was drilled with programming questions. I did not get the job off course, but I learned my first lesson about technical interviews. #2 Lesson, Prepare for the Basics instead of the "Hard Stuff". I got asked questions that were in the first few pages of my Java book. Pages I had never really bothered reading through.

Later when I transferred to Georgia Tech, I signed up for the co-op program, so I was actually able to sign up for interviews, without having to be pre-selected by the companies (Yes Georgia Tech Co-op program is that awesome. If you are in Georgia Tech sign up NOW). So I did dozens of interviews. A lot of times just for the heck of it. And no! not because I love getting suited up, but because it made me get better. I got more comfortable talking about my achievements and skills (bragging), and also confident enough to say [#3 Lesson] I don't know the answer to that question, and I will love to know it. Please ask me something else!. It is OK not to know everything. Never skip up an opportunity to interview. You might not get the job, but it is definitely great practice for the job you eventually get. Plus do these companies recycle their questions? yes they do.

That said, I must say it could be quite time consuming preparing for an interview. I remember almost failing senior year because I was more worried about preping for interviews than paying attention to my Advanced Analog Circuits class ( happiest C de ma vie). But just like everything else find your balance and heck its just an interview. I do have a few tips on how to prepare for an interview.

  1. Google it.

Yes you heard me right. Be sure to do your research. Enter key terms from the job description and find Ideas on the type of questions being asked. My very first time being an interviewer, I had to come up with 3 questions to ask the candidate.. and guess where I got 2 of them from...
If you happen to have a fresh out of the boat interviewer like me you might just be lucky the question you reviewed actually gets asked. Also this gives you an opportunity to understand the job you are interviewing for. Probe through the job description, understand it and come up with some questions of your own.

    2.   Be true to your Resume

Please please please, I cannot stress enough; Try not to over sell yourself. I learned my lesson when I interviewed for a job a really wanted, because I oversold my resume. I wrote out every course I had taken in college even those I was not good at. So during my "Dream Job Interview"  I got quizzed on everything I claimed to know on my resume. It was an all day interview and they probed through my resume like a circuit board. Needles to say first thing after that interview, on my flight back,  I Edited my resume before getting home..haha. Please Edit yours now and save yourself the embarrassment.

    3.   Brain Teasers

It is hard to prepare for the brain teaser questions. They are meant to "tease your brain", so keep an open mind and ask a lot of questions till you fully understand the questions. In my experience you don't really get graded on these. It is usually a test to see your problem solving skills. So even if you don't have a clue, work your way through it. Ask questions. Be bold.

     4.   Behavioral Questions

Okay this one is for laughs only. have a freaking good behavior duh!!! #joke

So most of these interview tips are for people coming out of college. I am not sure all of it will apply to positions that require experience. I will be sure to update it when I interview for experience positions. I know the brain teasers for sure might not apply. My husband refused to answer a brain teaser question on one of his interviews and got away with it..ha. I won't try that at home :)).

Lastly, I do have a book to recommend for coding interviews. Cracking the Coding interview by Gayle Laakmaan. Now be prepared and confident and #GOACETHATINTERVIEW

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