Answering techie questions in a job interview is really hard. And, when you’re sitting opposite a few other developers, it gets even harder. Even the simplest of questions can become terrifying. We’ve been there a lot over the years and would like to share a few tips we’ve learnt along the way:
1. Stay calm and get some water
Normally, nice companies will offer you something to drink when you first come in. Definitely take them up on this. I always find a cool glass of water is great to calm the nerves and also holding it helps that sweaty hand of yours, so when you meet others, they don’t get a warm-moist handshake.
2. Ask to repeat or explain the question
Lately I’ve found interviews getting a lot harder. Lots of front-end questions have become very computer science based and if like me you didn’t go to university the terminology can be difficult to understand. One I got recently was “can you give two common examples of programming paradigms”… I’m sorry what?
This was a tough one, I didn’t even know how to spell “paradigms” let alone know what it meant. After future investigation they were looking for me to say “Object-oriented programming (OOP)” and “Functional programming”. In this example I said “I don’t know”. But, I should have asked them to explain the question before because I wasn’t used to the term “Paradigm”, I did infact know about OOP and Functional Programming a little bit.
3. Know when to say “I don’t know”
It links to the point above, but babbling on trying to change the subject when asked a hard question in a job interview isn’t the way to go. Take your time, wait, and then simply reply with “I don’t know”. If it’s a good interviewee they will explain it to you to teach you for the future.
4. Write down question you don’t know
In an interview it can be tough to remember anything afterward. But, if you can remember one thing, try and remember the questions that you don’t know. This will help for next time and make you investigate and learn about different topics.
5. Prepare by reading over notes.
One question you get asked a lot is: “tell us a bit about your history/experience”. This is great question to think about before, they don’t want your life story, but how you go into developing and the steps you took to get there and what you like/love about it would be great.
You will find there are a few general questions that come up regularly which are great to have concise answers for. Every time I’ve ever tried to do this with technical questions in the past like: “What does IIFE stand for?”, they never even come up. But that’s ok. Even if the question doesn’t come up, you still feel like you’ve done some great interview prep, so can go in more confident.