Technical interviews are an integral part of the recruitment process for software developers. Unlike other types of interviews, they consist of challenges and assignments that test your technical coding skills, communication skills and problem-solving abilities. Think of technical interviews as an opportunity to show the interviewer you have the skills to do the job, rather than just telling them.
This isn’t the type of interview where you can wing it and hope for the best. In fact, technical interviews require a lot of practice and preparation and US companies expect to see that from their candidates. You will be asked to answer software developer interview questions in one of two styles: orally, or written down, whilst verbally communicating your thought process. To write code remotely in real-time you will use a web-based code editor such as CoderPad, Collabedit, or sometimes even Google Docs.
What do interviewers look for in a software engineering technical interview?
- Technical coding skills
- Ability to think creatively
- Ability to think analytically
- Excellent communication skills
- Systematic and structured problem-solving abilities
- An understanding of the bigger picture and how the systems interact
5 Software Job Interview Tips
To help you land your dream job, we’ve put together 5 coding interview techniques to consider when preparing for a technical interview as a software developer:
Prepare to present your ‘best’ selfAlways be prepared to answer the ‘tell me about yourself’ question. The technical interview is one of many and you might have a different interviewer each time. By having a 30 second to 1 minute elevator pitch ready you’ll be able to present yourself in a quick and engaging way to each interviewer and share a summary of your career and personal highlights. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your soft skills and passion for coding!
At some point during the technical interview, you may also be asked to talk about your prior experience or past projects in detail. Choose 3 to 5 relevant projects that match the complexity of the job you’re applying to and be ready to discuss them in detail to demonstrate your familiarity with the skills required for the position. Place focus on the hardest technical challenges, as opposed to projects where you just learned a lot. GitHub is a useful tool to present your work to the interviewer that also provides insight into how you think, perform, communicate and work.
Mock interviews are a great way to practice your communication skills, including your body language, clarity of speech and how you present yourself. Practice speaking clearly, paying attention to your vocabulary. Make sure to use accurate terminology as it is professional and avoids any possibility of a misunderstanding.
Master your programming language
Specialize. Most companies will let you choose your preferred programming language for the technical interview. So pick the programming language you know best and make sure you know it in and out, and backwards! C++, Python, Java, Ruby or C are safe language choices. By mastering a programming language you won’t waste time figuring out syntax and you may even be able to surprise the interviewer with a feature or method they are unfamiliar with.
Practice basic logic and computing skills
The technical interview will evaluate your basic logic and computer skills, so it’s important to have your data structure and algorithm knowledge up to scratch. Most senior software interview questions will assume knowledge of tech fundamentals and therefore aim to provide you with the space to show off the depth of your understanding. This helps interviewers identify those candidates who work at a deeper software engineering level.
When it comes to technical interview preparation for data structure and algorithm-based questions it can be helpful to divide the topics up
- Linked lists
- Graph algorithms
- Stack and queues
- Divide and conquer
- Recursion and hashing
- Dynamic programming
Dedicating sufficient time to studying each of the technical interview topics and doing practice questions, will help you respond with clarity and confidence when put to the test by the interviewer. Of course, you can refine your topics and add any others that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
Use coding practice sites, such as HackerRank, LeetCode and Coderbyte, to level up your coding skills in your chosen language. They offer a wide variety of technical interview practice questions similar to those asked in interviews and a web-based editor to execute your code. Coderbyte has a nifty feature that allows users to access other user’s solutions, giving you the added benefit of being able to learn from your peers. And, practicing with HackerRank will give you an authentic interview experience because the platform is used by many companies in their own technical interviews.
Practice problem-solving skills
Problem solving interview questions are designed to evaluate how you go about solving a problem and whether you can verbally communicate your thoughts and technical concepts in a clear and structured way. They also assess your reasoning and analytical skills and ability to think laterally and creatively.
Talking out loud as you code is a vital skill for acing the technical interview, so it’s important to get some practice in. Voicing your thoughts gives the interviewer insight into how you think and solve problems. Remember, how you get to the answer is as important as the answer itself, if not more. So, never stop explaining, even if you run into a problem. The interviewer is just as interested in how you debug a problem as how you break it down and solve it. Stay calm and maintain a logical flow.
Once you have finished, go back to optimize the code as this will demonstrate your attention to detail. When tidying up your code, show the interviewer you know more than what you have already demonstrated in solving the task. You can do this by mentioning and discussing details you would have incorporated in a real-life project.
LeetCode and Coderbyte provide valuable mock interview features to practice explaining technically difficult concepts out loud, in English, and getting used to coding with someone watching your every move.
Prepare what to do if you get stuck
Getting stuck on a question often throws interviewees off. Some technical interview questions are designed to test your reaction to complex challenges, making the way you respond even more important. That’s why it is a good idea to prepare a plan of action for that kind of situation.
So, what should you do if you stumble across a question you don’t know how to answer? First things first, stop, take a deep breath, and take your time to process the problem. If there is something you don’t understand, ask the interviewer for clarification and keep asking questions until you get it. Even if you have the smallest speck of doubt, voice your understanding of the question because it will give the interviewer the opportunity to correct you, where necessary.
If, after clarification, you are still unsure, start with what you do know. You’ll get credit for putting in the effort to find a solution and demonstrating your thought process. Honesty is the best policy. If you really don’t know, explain where you would look to solve the issue if you were faced with it in your daily work.
With these 5 technical interview preparation tips under your belt, you will be ready to take on your software engineering technical interview with confidence. Mock interviews and coding practice are key to your success. Make the most of any experienced English-speaking friends or family to give you constructive feedback. And, you can always count on the Nexton team for support and to answer any questions you have!