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 usually riddled with nervousness and stress. On this article, we’ll check out seven of the most typical 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 go and I might 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 spotted 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 information buildings and algorithms interviews with a pc science diploma,” I believed, “I can’t think about how overwhelming these ideas should be for self-taught builders.” So for the previous 12 months, I’ve made it my mission to make information buildings and algorithms approachable for everybody.

I discovered it extremely tough to seek out one useful resource for studying the whole lot in regards to the technical interview course of. From the recruiter’s telephone name to the methods 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 Observe About Distant Interviews

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

Listed here are a couple of ideas in your digital interviews.

  • Arrive early.
    There’s nothing extra panic-inducing than going to affix a web based assembly and realizing you might want to obtain a whole bundle of drivers to run this system. I like to recommend creating an account with the assembly software forward of time and working a take a look at assembly with a good friend to make sure you have entry to the appliance and really feel comfy utilizing the web controls.
  • Use headphones.
    I all the time advocate utilizing headphones in 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 rapidly drain your laptop battery, particularly in the event you’re dwell coding. To fight this, have your laptop plugged in for the whole lot of the interview if doable.
  • Take a look at your digicam.
    Whereas distant interviews permit us to be in a protected and acquainted setting, we are able to usually overlook to take away unsavory objects from the background of our video body. I all the time counsel working a take a look at assembly to verify your video body and take away the soiled laundry from the background. You too can use a digital background in your distant interview in case your background just isn’t best.
A picture of how a personal workspace could look like
Investing in a private workspace is price it: with an honest digicam, good lighting, a superb microphone and a cushty setup. (Large preview)

The Technical Interview Course of

Once you start the technical interview course of with an organization, your recruiter ought to inform you about what you need to count on from the method. One purpose why technical interviews are so anxiety-inducing is the shortage of course of standardization. A technical interview at one firm can look extremely completely different from a technical interview at one other firm. However there are some commonalities between technical interview processes which you could put together for.

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

Recruiter Cellphone Interview

Your first interview can be a recruiter telephone interview. Throughout this name you’ll focus on the job, the corporate, and what you possibly can count on from the interview course of. Don’t take this interview flippantly: all interviews within the technical interview course of are very important to touchdown you a job supply. In the event you don’t appear excited in regards to the function a recruiter won’t transfer you ahead to the subsequent section of the method.

In the event you’re making use of to many various job openings, I like to recommend protecting a spreadsheet of the roles, corporations, recruiter data, and any related data. It is best to refer again to your notes previous to the recruiter telephone interview to make sure you’re well-informed and go away an awesome impression.

Technical Screening

If the recruiter’s telephone interview goes properly you’ll possible 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 could have a dwell interviewer.

Corporations sometimes conduct technical screenings to make sure a candidate has the baseline technical information required to thrive in a job. It may be costly to completely interview each single candidate so a technical screening is a approach to cut back the candidate pool.

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

Take House Challenge

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

Coding tasks are a polarizing subject: some candidates love them whereas different candidates discover them unfair. On one aspect, coding tasks let you showcase your expertise in a extra pure setting, utilizing the instruments you like. Alternatively, these tasks generally is a manner for an organization to obtain free (usually unpaid) labor.

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

In the event you’re tasked with a take-home mission and don’t have the time required to dedicate to it, you possibly can ask the recruiter if there’s another. It may also be price asking if you can be compensated in your time spent on this interview (some corporations pays you, though all of them ought to).

On-Web site Interviews

The “on-site” interview section is probably going the final section earlier than finally receiving a job supply or a rejection. Many corporations used to fly candidates to their places of work for a full day of interviews, however as a result of pandemic, these interviews are being held just about.

Many candidates discover the on-site interviews to be essentially the most anxious because it requires you to take a trip day out of your present function to finish them. You’ll possible have three or 4 interviews (sometimes 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 anxious so keep 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 might go away you burned out. Ensure you’re taking time to decompress after every interview and replicate on the way it went. Have been there interviews you struggled with greater than others? In that case, give attention to these areas in your subsequent interview course of; some recruiters will even give 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’re feeling protected and cozy? Was this even a piece setting you’d thrive in? Keep in mind that technical interviews are a two-way avenue.

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 speculated to measure your communication and problem-solving skills, 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 special 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 needs 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 apply low-context communication, no matter the way you’re used to speaking. In the event you want a second to suppose, inform your interviewer. In the event you need assistance, ask for it!

Typically candidates don’t transfer on to the subsequent interview section as a result of they failed to speak successfully. In the event you consider the interview as a dialog somewhat than an examination, you’re extra more likely to talk successfully.

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

In the event you don’t know the reply to one thing, admit it! Interviewers recognize when a candidate is self-aware and humble sufficient to confess they don’t know the reply to one thing. It’s a lot better to confess you don’t know one thing than to “BS” your manner by means of it.

In the event you’re uncertain how you can reply a query you possibly can say, “To be sincere I’m undecided. If I needed to make an informed guess I might say…” Folks don’t need to work with “know-it-all”s; they need 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 evening earlier than. It’s exhausting to make time to interview however the actuality is that interviewing is a ability (sadly) and it should be practiced.

Though you would possibly really feel such as you’ve discovered one thing while cramming the evening earlier than an interview, this studying is unstable and superficial. Our mind solely encodes data into short-term reminiscence once we cram the evening earlier than an interview. Because of this all that data you simply “discovered” will dissipate rapidly after the interview. Thus, it’s higher in your long-term reminiscence to do some learning within the weeks main as much as an interview than cram the evening earlier than.

Moreover, you’re extra more likely to regurgitate data than really perceive it. It’ll grow to be obvious in a short time in the event you’re simply reciting data you memorized versus working by means of an answer.

One technique for efficient studying is to make use of context-switching as a device. Whereas switching contexts within the midst of studying a brand new ability appears ineffective, it’s really the simplest studying device. Once you context-switch throughout studying, it’s harder for our mind to recall data, finally strengthening the encoded data and making it simpler to recall in the long term.

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

Mistake #4: Memorizing Code For Algorithms & Information Constructions

Candidates usually really feel they need to memorize code for algorithms and information buildings, however the actuality of it’s you possible received’t should code this stuff from scratch. Regurgitating code just isn’t a helpful ability and your interviewer will have the ability to inform you’ve merely memorized an answer. As an alternative, you need to intention to grasp the method of what you’re undertaking.

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 information buildings and be taught the ideas behind it. For instance, in the event you’re requested to kind an array of integers, you would possibly know {that a} divide-and-conquer algorithm like merge kind or fast kind is a good answer. In the event you perceive the idea of how an algorithm or information construction works, you possibly can construct the answer.

Lastly, most coding interviews can be performed within the foundational programming language (even when an organization is searching for a React/Vue.js developer): you possible won’t be requested to code utilizing a framework or library, so be sure you’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, nevertheless, there appears to be a give attention to information buildings and algorithms. And whereas information buildings and algorithms are an vital space to check, you need to give the opposite interviews within the course of the identical consideration: Don’t prioritize information 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 possible obtain questions comparable to:

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


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

Write down your responses to those questions and apply answering them out loud. You don’t need to sound rehearsed however you need to be succinct and never ramble. Preserve your response to some sentences. Moreover, eye contact and physique language are vital.

Attempt to not fidget and give attention to making eye contact together with your interviewer!

Mistake #6: Beginning With The Optimized Resolution

Except you’re 110% assured in essentially the most optimized answer for a coding problem, you don’t have to begin with essentially the most optimized answer. Candidates usually suppose they’ve to begin with an optimum answer and it journeys them up. They get caught and might’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 recognize your honesty and regard to efficiency. You’ll additionally have the ability to make progress extra rapidly, and in an interview, small wins can have a huge effect in your self-confidence and total 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 regularly overlook the foundations and skip to the extra expert-level framework and libraries however this will 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 aware 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 need to negotiate. There are lots of issues you possibly can negotiate: paid time without work: 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 function (and on this geographic location) make yearly? You should utilize Glassdoor to do some market analysis.

Glassdoor screenshot
Glassdoor has grow to be a place-to-go to verify on firm tradition, salaries, processes and groups all all over the world. (Large preview)

You also needs to acknowledge that the recruiter has constraints and won’t have the ability 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 will’t enhance your supply.

It is best to give attention to “why” you need to obtain extra wage or advantages; what do you convey to the desk that another person received’t?

Lastly, don’t give a recruiter an ultimatum, i.e. “In the event you don’t give me this wage, I’ll stroll away.” As an alternative, give attention to the truth that you need to affix the staff however want an enchancment/change to the supply to simply accept.

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

“Thanks a lot for the supply. I’m genuinely thrilled and looking out 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 neighborhood and train quite a few programs on-line with X studying platforms. I do know that my intensive information of Y will drastically 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 straight away!”

In the event you don’t get a job supply, don’t fear! Nearly 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 subsequent spherical of interviews.

If you wish to be taught extra about information buildings, algorithms, coding tasks, tradition match interviews, methods design interviews, and extra, try 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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