What to expect in software job interviews

Whether you’re considering a new career in coding, are in the depths of one of our bootcamps, or recently graduated, the thought of job interviews has probably crossed your mind.

The good news is that coding is arguably the the most in-demand skill in the workplace right now. Less exciting is the prospect of job-hunting and interviews, especially since the tech world has its own quirks when it comes to hiring.
Here are a few things to expect as you walk through those doors to an interview room…

Levels of Interviews
Job interviews across all industries are broken down into layers and levels. For larger companies, and especially the tech industry, there can quite rigid settings for the interview stages, and the number of levels climbs higher for the bigger companies. A startup might have three stages/levels, for instance, while a huge company like Google or Facebook can have as many as nine.

In a “level one” interview you could be queried on the languages and projects under your belt, while they also evaluate whether you’re a “cultural” fit for the firm: This refers to your working style, your personality and what you expect from a workplace.

A “level nine” interview would be with a tech giant and would be the final barrier to a job. At these final levels you might be asked complex data and algorithm questions.
Some applicants find numerous interviews offputting, but getting through a thorough screening process means that you should be a very good fit for a company. It’s certainly preferable to a short application process and a rigorous, intense trial period (which some companies use).

“Quirky” Questions
A trend emerged in the last decade, especially in the tech scene, to ask unusual non-sequiturs. Indeed, tech giants’ weird interview questions have become the stuff of urban legends: “Why are manholes round?” is one that Microsoft applicants have been asked, while (allegedly) SpaceX asks candidates which way a hot dog expands when it boils.
Don’t panic when you’re thrown these curveballs: You’re not usually expected to know the real answer to “How many basketballs would fit in this room?”. Instead, the questions are intended to see how you would approach surprises, how your lateral thinking works or your ability to problem-solve.

They’re also a way for employers to evaluate something about your personality – your sense of humour, for instance, or your imagination. Finding solutions is part of a developer’s everyday life, after all.

Mini Tests
Speaking of problem-solving, another trend in I.C.T. interviews is to ask the candidate to prove they can do the job. This could be answering questions in an exam style situation with a roomful of candidates, for example, or solving a problem on a whiteboard in the interview room.

Again, it’s important to remain calm in this context: If you’re comfortable with the language or discipline being tested, there’s no reason to be nervous and you should sail through this part. And if it’s too challenging, that just means that either the role wasn’t the right fit for your skillset or that your skills need more practice or finessing.

Keeping Faith
Job interviews are daunting at the best of times, and especially if you’re entering a whole new field. But it’s important to remember that your skills are in demand and that the right job is out there for you. Some of our graduates have landed a job mere weeks after graduation, while for others it has taken a few months. Either way, every application and every interview is one step closer to that dream job. 

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