Surviving technical interviews

Feb 3, 2021
  • 4 min read

Surviving technical interviews

Following an invitation to take part in the University of Reading’s Science and Health week we've pulled together a piece with the aim of helping students embarking on their tech journey. With upskilling at the core of our values as a consultancy, we've drawn on our internal expertise and personal experience from associates, to provide top tips in what we look for in candidates. I hope the below helps you in landing your dream role and surviving technical interviews.

May the odds be ever in your favour

There's no avoiding it, interviewing, in general, can be difficult. We all know it and despite how much you prep for an interview sometimes, the odds are just not in your favour that day. Whether you get a difficult interviewer, or your mind goes blank on the processes you revised so hard for in advance, below are a few tips on how to survive a technical interview.

What are technical interviews?

Technical interviews allow prospective employers to assess candidates' technical, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. They usually involve some kind of timed brain teaser or technical assessment problem like whiteboarding or, more commonly, pair programming. Not only does this sort of task give the interviewer an idea of how you would approach a problem, but it also gives them insight into your wider understanding of the discipline context, your soft skills, and what it would be like to work with you. It used to be very typical for companies to conduct these interviews face-to-face, but with the current climate (the dreaded COVID-19) the likelihood is your interview will be virtual, which brings with it both benefits and challenges.

Why are technical interviews used and when?

Companies, like ours, tend to use technical interviews to assess the way in which a candidate approaches the problem at hand. It is less about arriving at the correct answer but more about the methodology used. That’s right, the wrong conclusion doesn’t mean all is lost! A typical interview process looks something like this:

  1. Initial talent screening
  2. Technical screening
  3. Final interview with senior stakeholder

How to succeed in a technical interview

So now you know what one is and when it is used, how do you ace your technical interview? There are several different techniques and things we look for here at Tecknuovo which can help you.

  1. Review the fundamentals Review the basic applications of your field, you don’t want to be caught out. For example, if you specialise in Python, review the most recent/relevant updated version of the language and frameworks and think about how you would approach technical issues within each version.
  2. Full communication When talking through how you would solve a problem, make sure you talk through your thought processes and give the interviewer a full overview of how you would work around the problem you have been set. Think in real-time and address where you would look to team members for support, if at all.
  3. If something seems obvious say it anyway Some of the questions asked will have parts to them where they will be looking for the candidate's attitude to tackling a problem as well as the solution itself. Ask questions if you are unsure of what has been asked. It’s always best to clarify than assume.
  4. Confirm your response “Did that answer your question?” “Would you like me to elaborate more on that” If you are explaining a complex scenario then it is understandable that you might have skipped over something in your answer, asking the interviewer this kind of question opens the door more freely for them to ask for clarification on any of the points you have made.
  5. Show your personality As much as you can prepare technically, don’t be afraid to inject some personality into the interview and ensure you get across the type of individual and worker you are.

“As an interviewer, technical interviews are a fantastic opportunity to understand the personality of the applicant. You learn a lot more from watching them tackle a problem than you do from talking to them about their experience or reading their CV. My advice to students approaching their first interview is not to panic! Ask for clarification if you need it and remember that we’re not here to intentionally trip you up, we want to see how you would fit in with the rest of the team.” Rifaht Sarwar, Senior Business Analyst, Tecknuovo

Calvin Dickinson, Head of Talent Acquisition

I always welcome feedback on what we’re doing, if you’d like to know more please contact me below, I’d love to hear your experience and opinion!

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