What Is A Technical Interview?

what-is-a-technical-interview

Normal job interviews can be stressful enough, but if you’re in the running for a tech job (whether it’s something like IT, or computer science), it’s very likely you’ll also have a technical interview as well. 

If you’ve had a fair few interviews in your time, it’s unlikely that all of the technical questions you’ll be asked will be completely new to you; it’s quite common for interviews to ask problem solving questions during a standard interview, to see how the candidate can cope under pressure. 

But there’s still a lot to prepare for when it comes to a technical interview. Luckily, there are ways to prepare, even though a lot of the questions will be unpredictable. The following will break down everything you might need to know about technical interviews.

What Are The Stages Of A Technical Interview?

Every company will have different procedures, but the following stages are by far the most likely you’ll be faced with as you advance through the selection process for a technical job. 

Technical Phone Screen

This first stage won’t differ much from a standard phone interview. The company was impressed by your resume, and is eager to find out more about you. Try your best to convey the fact that you deem yourself qualified for the job. And, of course, try to be as amiable as possible. 

If you’re applying for a technical job, it’s likely that a lot’s going to be expected of the successful candidate, especially if it’s a high paying role.

If you’re worried that there’s a gap in your experience that the interviewer might have picked up on, it’s sometimes effective to address it head-on by asking: ‘Are there any gaps in my experience that stood out to you?’ 

If they answer honestly, you can try to reassure them that you’re a fast learner, and that you feel confident you’ll be able to do all the job entails in a matter of weeks (or, if you’re very confident, days!). 

Remote Coding Assignment Or Interview

Not every company will ask you to do this, but you should prepare nonetheless. This stage will usually involve the company testing your coding skills, and will serve as a preliminary test before the final interview/challenge.

This stage could take a few forms. The only way to really prepare is to make sure that your coding knowledge is in the bag. 

Interview And Whiteboarding Stage

Since the Covid pandemic, far more final stage interviews will be conducted remotely rather than on location- especially if the job itself is remote.

If your final stage interview is done over video call, there may be some slight changes to procedure, but you should still be expecting all of the following. 

The final stage is the stage most often referred to as the ‘technical interview’ itself. You’ll be interviewed at length, and you’ll be required to do coding challenges on a whiteboard or, if the interview is remote, on some other kind of software. 

It differs from company to company, though. For example, Google tends to have a number of stages for candidates.

A phone call or Hangout interview that would last between 30 to 60 minutes, and then an onsite interview which would consist of four separate interviews, and last about four hours. 

Technical Interviews: What Do They Want To Know?

Education Questions 

There are a number of areas you can expect an interviewer to cover during a technical interview. The first is your education.

A lot of professionals within the tech industry are self trained, but if you have certifications or degrees, let them know. Be sure to highlight any scholarships you might have earned, or any internships you completed with tech companies. 

A couple of the questions you might be asked about your education during a technical interview include: ‘What are your strengths when it comes to IT, and what are your weaknesses?’, and ‘How have you maintained your technical certifications?’

Behavioral Questions 

They’re also likely to ask you behavioral questions, in order to find out how you performed (and how you think you performed) in certain workplace scenarios.

Some of the behavioral questions you might be asked include: ‘What is a project you’ve completed that you’re most proud of? What was the biggest challenge you faced while working on this project?’, and ‘Outline your production deployment process’. 

Situational Questions

The employer will want to test your problem solving skills by providing you with a hypothetical scenario to find out how you’d react.

A couple of the situational questions you could be asked include: ‘It’s vital that you provide project estimates that are as accurate as possible. How would you ensure this?’, and ‘What challenges would you be anticipating if you got this job?’ 

Tech Tools / Systems / Security Questions

In a tech job, it’s important that you’re familiar with all the technology that the company uses. Most companies will list all the tools and systems they expect you to be familiar with in the job listing.

If there’s anything on that list that you’re not all that experienced with, try to change that, or at the very least read up on it (if the tech costs a lot of money that you don’t necessarily want to spend).

Some of the questions in this area you can expect would include: ‘List the main source control tools you’ve used thus far’, and ‘Have you ever used Eclipse?’

It’s likely you’ll also be asked questions about your experience in database design, and about your general work habits and processes in previous jobs. 

Conclusion: What Is A Technical Interview?

Technical interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially since a lot of the more… well… technical questions can be hard to see coming.

But as long as you are confident you can talk yourself up and you’ve been practicing as many examples of technical questions that you can find (of which there are plenty online), you should be fine. 

Jamie Willis