Career Success: 6 Tips To Nail Your First Tech Interview

Whether you’re a recent Code Institute graduate or you’re struggling to find yourself the perfect new job, it’s no surprise that searching for a new career opportunity is tough. Finding the time to research companies, get those applications in and maintaining your motivation is a full-time job!
Our Head of Mentoring, Yoni, is an experienced software developer and a seasoned tech interviewer. Yoni shared his expert tips with us about how to nail tech interviews to get you one step closer to your dream job. Previously, Yoni was a Systems Engineer at Google, but then he saw the light and joined the Code Institute team.
Let’s take a look at 6 practical interview tips that will have companies chasing you with offers of employment.   

1. Bring Your People Skills To Interviews

An interview is all about showcasing your people skills. It doesn’t matter what kind of developer role you’re going for, employers want to work with someone who can collaborate and work as part of a team. Interviews can be stressful; before you go into the room take a few deep breaths to help you relax. Ever heard of fight or flight?
When you’re nervous or anxious your body experiences a range of fight or flight symptoms; these include a dry throat, a nervous feeling in your stomach, an increased heart rate and excessive sweating. Taking a few deep breaths will slow your heart rate and your body will become calm. This sounds like a basic tip, but by helping you relax physically, you can be sure to deliver the best version of yourself on the day. You have a personality; don’t let nerves obscure it!

2. Own Your Level of IT Knowledge

Tech interviews will often involve a practical coding task – the interviewer might ask you to solve a problem using code. You might be given a whiteboard or a computer to do this; talk through your approach to the task out loud as you write and work it out. This process will give the interviewer an insight into how you work.
If you’re unsure of something, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer for more details; this will help you to clarify your approach to the solution. Apply the knowledge you have to the problem, and afterwards, when you’re explaining your method, try and steer the conversation towards your strengths. If there’s something you don’t know be honest, but be sure to emphasise your willingness to expand on your current skill set. Employers love a candidate who’s open to learning.

3. Get Your Geek On

You’re in a technical interview – it’s finally acceptable to get your geek on! Talk about why you love building websites, or what your favourite coding language is. Have you ever come across any coding issues or challenges? Who hasn’t! Be open about these, and don’t be afraid to share your thoughts on the importance of specific coding languages for certain tasks. An employer will be impressed that you’ve acknowledged some of the challenges that software developers come across. Don’t forget to provide a solution or suggestion to tackle these problems.   
Having an open manner and chatting about your interest in coding shows that you’re serious about your career in software development. Employers will pick up on your enthusiasm for web development, and this will make you you stand out as a strong candidate for the role. Is there a high level CEO or Software Developer who you admire? Explain why you love their work.   

4. Talk Through Your Portfolio

Your most important asset in a tech interview is your portfolio. Interviewers can move quickly through questions due to time pressure; it’s up to you to make sure to talk through your projects in detail, and explain your ideas behind them. You’ve worked hard to build these websites and you should be proud – let the interviewer know this.
Make sure that you understand how the technologies in your project work – you’ll probably be asked this question. You might also be asked to reflect on the inspiration behind your work. Do you have reasons to justify why you used specific technologies and not other appropriate ones? Remember, a tech interview is all about showing the interviewer what you’re capable of.

5. Ask Questions

If you’re asked a question in the interview that you’re unsure about it, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer a question yourself to clarify what they mean. This will give you time to think, and it will also show them that you’re a detail-oriented and assertive developer. Another box ticked!
Employers love to know that the person they’re interviewing is particularly interested in their company. Flattery might get you extra points; pick out something that you like about the company and explain why. Don’t forget to ask a few questions at the end of the interview; it’s a great excuse to cement your enthusiasm for the role.

6. Leave On A High Note

The final impression that you leave with an employer and a company is vital. At the end of the day you want them to contact you with an offer after this interview. What can you do at the very end of the interview to make you stand out from the other candidates?
Let the interviewer know that if they want specific references or if they have any further questions to simply let you know. This will build up some trust between you. Thank them for their time, shake their hand and as they walk you out tell them you hope they have a great day. Finish your goodbye with a smile – you want to give off a positive impression. Optimism is half the battle!  
We’d love to hear from you; ask us a question or share your first interview experiences with us and we’ll get back to you!

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