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  • Writer's pictureTim Buchalka

8 Interview Tips for Software Developers

Programming interviews suck, let's face it. Well none of us are really happy, I'm sure, in getting interviewed. We wanna get past that stage to get our first programming job. How do we actually succeed? Well, let's talk about that. I've got eight tips today to help you get the most out of your interview and hopefully move on to get your first programming job.

Now we're talking about programming interviews and specifically, I've got eight tips for you here today. Hopefully they're going to help you get the most out of your interview and move on to get your first job.

Just a reminder here, that this is a non-technical focus interview techniques here so we're talking about things of a general nature. Programming test interviews and so forth, that needs to be talked about in probably a series of blog posts. I will do that in the future. Here, it's more general advice for interviews.

Moving on, what we want to talk about now are these eight tips. Number one, recognize feelings of impostor syndrome. Now first, if you don't know what that means, check my other blog post here. This is a symptom that, if you're ever going to feel it, you'll feel it in an interview. If you've ever had an interview before, you know that these feelings will come up and it's natural to feel a bit on edge and maybe a bit stressed and so forth. Just realize that that's part and parcel of the journey of an interview and as you progress through, things get a lot better.

I certainly remember - I haven't had an interview for a while now - but I always felt particularly nervous just before the interview started or when the door opened and I was shaking hands with someone. I'd think, "Oh, can I even talk here?" Just breathe, take your time, and work through it and things get better as you progress through the interview. That's number one, recognize that you will be getting these feelings.

Number two, read the job description really carefully. I can't stress this enough to really try and basically maximize your understanding of what the job is all about, what the company is all about, the type of work. Finding anything relating to that can really help you look good in an interview, particularly when you can bring up those points at an interview. So try and find that and study up as much as you can on the company and find out a lot to as much as you can about the actual process, the position, rather, as well.

Number three sounds like a funny one: Read your own resume. But again, this is something that is really important here because questions will come from it. Your interview, no doubt, they'll look through your resume and they'll be asking you questions about it. So you need to know the answers to that, you know. If you've put down that you know some Java, or you've worked on a particular framework, you may get quizzed on that so make sure that your resume fits with what your current skills are and you're not going to feel left floundering with an answer because you put something on there and then perhaps you haven't thought about it. So make sure you know your resume inside out and you can substantiate everything you've actually put on your resume.

Another important tip here, tip number four, is recognize the interviewers want you to succeed. They're not there to trap you, to trick you, to try and eliminate you. They want to assess your skills. So firstly, they want to assess your communication skills. They want to assess your enthusiasm and they also want to assess your passion for coding. So, it's really important that you come across and show all those things to show them that you are the person for the job. So again, they're not trying to trip you up. They're trying to get you to go through and hopefully be successful and to get a job there. So keep that in mind.

Tip number five, very important one, it should be pretty straight forward, but I'm saying it anyway. Avoid being arrogant or too opinionated. Now this is something that I see. I've actually had interviewed people who are really arrogant and have just got that "I know everything" type approach and chances are pretty high, you're not going to get a job there. Look, even if you are brilliant, people have to work with you and if they feel that you are going to be hard work, it's just really reducing the chances of you getting a job. So try and be humble and come across as being eager to learn and that really will set you apart and make you look really good, make you look to be a really desirable employee.

All right, so next, make sure that you can actually ask some questions. This sounds like a simple thing, but have some questions you can ask about the company. Something that basically relates to the company, right? To the position, maybe you can ask about the frameworks they're using, what are the programming languages they're using, who would you be working with and what their skills are. It just shows that you've got an interest there in the actual company and that could come across very positively by doing that, and again, will help you stand out.

Another thing that I can't stress enough, is that it's okay to say you don't know something. The worst thing you can do is just try and fudge it if someone asks you a question on a particular framework, and you just try and come up with an answer. Realize that, more than likely, the person interviewing you knows the same technologies you do and therefore, if you trip up and give them an answer that perhaps a marketer might accept, at some point, the programmer, the person who's a technical person, will realize that you're making stuff up and that might come across because that's an honesty issue. So, if you don't know something, be honest. If you haven't learned that yet, maybe you can equate something and say, "Well, I don't know that particular framework but I've used this one and I'm sure I could pick it up quickly", those sorts of things will come across really well. That's a really positive way to actually answer the question.

Number eight here is don't rush your answers and focus on your vocabulary when you're talking. Try and use the right computing terms and so forth and don't rush your answers. It can be really hard not to want to answer immediately. So someone asks you a question, of course, what happens? There's silence in the room and you quickly want to start talking, but collect your thoughts. Take a bit of time to consider the answer before answering it and if it's a question that needs more substantiation, ask a clarifying question before answering it. That can really stand your in good step because employers want to employ people who think about things and don't rush into that first decision which may or not be the right decision to make. So, take your time and make sure you have got, have had enough time to think about the answer before answering.

In general, finishing off: relax, breath and focus and I wish you every success. So I hope that helped. If you've got any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

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