Nailing A Tech Job Interview – Insightful Advice You May Not Have Heard Yet
So you’ve just managed to score an interview with an aspiring silicon valley company that you’ve had in your eyesight for years? But now the anxiety is starting to set in, and you may be afraid you oversold yourself in your resume and cover letter? Well, you should be nervous, as large tech companies are notorious for asking tough, adrenaline squeezing questions to force you out of your comfort zone. So why not go out of step out of your comfort zone right away voluntarily?
Below you’ll find a quick breakdown of potentially employment-saving advice ranging from cortisol-killing habits to ideal factual preparation. It is time to channel your nervosity into motivation to make yourself a bullet-proof candidate. Ideally, your job interview lies a couple of weeks ahead. If this is the case, start with the bottom of this list and work your way down. It is never too early to prepare for such a life-changing appointment.
Early preparations (1 month to 1 week before the interview)
Read up about the company
Reading up does not mean just scrolling through their Wikipedia page and memorize their CEO, Net Income and recent controversies. This research process is one of the best ways you can shine as a stand-out candidate during the hiring process.
When researching your (hopefully) future employer, try to answer the following questions:
- Who are the key players of the organizations? What are their backgrounds? Perhaps you can find a common interest you share with some of these? Look up their photos and remind themselves, they’re not a divine entity, but ordinary people themselves.
- Which kind of skills does the company value? The most obvious answer to this can be found, by carefully reading the employers job postings. If they’re not going into details there, consider reaching out to current employees and ask them about the employers most sought after values.
- What is some recent news about the employer? Was there a recent downsizing, a civil lawsuit, a significant merger? Try to summarize everything newsworthy about the company in recent weeks.
- What is their company’s mission? The answer to this should ideally be part of the answer to the commonly asked question, of why you think you’re a good fit for the company. A study has demonstrated that 43 percent of HR staff believe, that cultural fit is the most significant job quality.
- What kind of work will you most likely be doing? Get a general idea of your company’s operation and their clients and think about tasks you will most likely be working on, once hired. Read their case studies, blogs, whitepapers or press releases to find out more about the inner workings of the operation.
- Who will be interviewing you? Find out intricate details about the person conducting the interview. This inside knowledge is so valuable, it should really be considered cheating. The interviewer has a public Facebook profiles filled with photos of his puppy golden retriever, and you happen to have a golden retriever yourself. Use it to your advantage without making it obvious, that you were stalking him/her.
- Didn’t find the answer to some of these questions? If it’s a particularly exciting question, that demonstrates your effort in terms of research, ask the interviewer!
If you are still wondering, why this intricate research may make or break your application. Read this overuses Art of War-quote: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Checking your CV
Chances are if you’ve already scored an interview, you most likely sent them your CV. If not, make sure the CV you bring with you flawless. A great CV will do most of the talking for you. Besides, you may want to tailor your CV for this particular employer. There may be some qualities the employer values, that you didn’t think were necessary to include in your CV. Check the answer to question 2 mentioned above, and dig out relevant experience from your past that reflects these skills.
Refreshing Your Skills
Whether its hard or soft skills, brief but continuous refresher a couple of weeks before the interview will do you right. Especially if your previous job didn’t necessarily demand the same skillset. If you’re a developer, you’d most likely be doing light SQL. If you haven’t used SQL in a while, it would be highly advisable to find out which SQL database your employer uses, as they all have a specific syntax. Refresh your skills on how to get, insert and update data, as well as basic table creation. An excellent way to refresh these skills and prepare for potential SQL related questions is through our dedicated service. While refreshing your skill-based knowledge usually doesn’t take more than a couple of hours, it would be preferable to get it out of the way weeks ahead and then take a glimpse of your work the day before.
The physical aspect of what causes nervosity should not be underestimated. It is no secret that exercise lowers your cortisol (stress) and is another excellent way to prove yourself, that you can step out of your comfort zone if necessary. Ideally, you should already be exercising routinely anyways, as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you are not, get off the couch as soon as possible.
Short term preparation: (1 week to 1 day before)
Read up on standard interview questions
This is perhaps the most critical aspect of preparing for a job interview. While the refresher of your technical skills from earlier should already have you confident in technical questions, it is more likely that the personal items are what makes and breaks your interview.
Even though many of these personal questions, like: Tell me about yourself? Or How did you hear about this Job? Seem to demand a spontaneous answer, it is important to not rely on your instinctive reasoning, when encountering such a potentially stressful situation. Clearly write down your answer to these common questions in bullet points, then look over them and be spontaneous in how you word your response, but make sure the content and message are consistent. When crafting your answer, please look back over the company research you conducted a couple of weeks earlier.
Some of the most common questions include:
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Tell us about yourself?
- Tell me about your resume?
- How did you hear about this job offer?
- Why are you looking for a job?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why should we hire you?
- What do you expect from your manager?
- How do you deal with stress?
Advice for Day Zero
While many people care to look presentable on such an important day, there are still some things you should consider specifically for tech companies. And yes, being overdressed can be very damaging you will seem out of place and alienated. While many people wear jeans, chances are they didn’t wear them on the day of the interview, since that would be downplaying it too much. Nowadays a polo with a pair of slacks is a common sight for silicon valley job interviews and is usually a safe bet. If you know someone at the company try to find out what most employees there are wearing.
Fake it til you make it. If you pretend to be Superman, you shall become Superman! Even though that may be an exaggeration, chances are you will be blown away by the noticeably positive effects power posing can have on you. And best of all, it doesn’t take time or money to do. Before you enter the interview, recede to the restroom and try a two-minute superman power pose. Stare in the mirror, rest your hands on your hips and spread your feet wide and expose those chest muscles.
Don’t mention weaknesses that are actually strengths
This is an often overlooked point, and if you inquire advice for job interviews elsewhere, they will most likely tell you to mention strengths as weaknesses. For example:
Q: What would you consider your greatest weakness?
A: I tend to get too immersed with work and sometimes forget I am well into my supposed lunch break.
These kinds of responses make any well-seasoned interviewer cringe and will never yield you a positive impression. It makes you seem pretentious and inauthentic. Instead, mention a legitimate weakness and what steps you have taken to overcome these weaknesses. The interviewer will see you as merely human, but as a dedicated problem solver at the same time.