How to prepare for a tech company job interview
Tech company jobs are competitive, that's unavoidable.
Whether you're going for a job at a start-up or you have your eyes on role at a big company - you're going to need to spend a decent amount of hours preparing.
Why? Due to the magnitude of competition and the time you can spend with your interviewers (expect 4-8 hours in total). The idea that anyone can make it through the process required without preparation is a fallacy.
As a team we've interviewed at Uber, Google, Amazon, Deliveroo and obviously, Curve - if you want to get a job at a tech company, here's what you need to know...
1) Know who you'll be working for
A company will have a specific way of speaking about themselves, you're going to have to try and emulate this.
Before your interview make sure you have read as much as you can about the company that comes from their own viewpoint - talks by their senior leaders, their mission statement or their statements to investors/shareholders.
You want to be able to show how you can help them not just fill a role but meet the goals they have as a company while honouring their values, a strong company will not just be interested in you meeting targets but the method in which you will do it e.g. Can you demonstrate teamwork, innovation or social responsibility while executing a project?
2) Immerse yourself in the market
Research the latest news in your desired field. Showcasing that you stay abreast of changes in the industry that you want to work in will show you have genuine interest and existing knowledge.
When it comes to technology news, you can start following Tech Twitter feeds in advance - Wired UK; Techcrunch and The Verge are all a great starting point. Read as much as you can and you will naturally start to form opinions on core technology issues. This habit will serve you well when you get that job in tech also, being able to have a constant awareness of the overall landscape.
If you want to test these opinions there are also a plethora of tech meet-ups you can go to, attend a few on topics that interest you and socialise with as many people as you can. Be brave at these events; debate topics, lose some arguments - in the end you'll have more rounded opinions.
3) Teach what you know
Learn how to talk about your craft like an expert. You may be very knowledgeable in your field, but unless you can speak about it in a clear and informative way, your interviewer won't see this. Watch TED talks, listen to podcasts, read books about your area of expertise - not because you don't know, but because you need to understand how to talk about it fluidly.
Another way to get your message across? Get in the interviewer's frame of mind, look at the terminology that is being used in the job description, does it relate to a particular theory you can read up or on a skill you can research? Don't underestimate the power of being on the same wavelength as your interviewer and speaking in a way that resonates with how their mind works.
We've all been on interviews where the theories used in the job spec. weren't necessarily models we had worked to. But we made sure we understood them fully and could relate them to models we did have experience in and wanted to use going forward. We could then explain how my way of working compared to their current. We could also, crucially, explain past experience in relation to the model in which the interviewer knew well and could easily understand.
4) Be ready for competency questions
These are questions designed to showcase your competency for a new role by looking at your previous experiences. They may seem old school but Amazon, Uber and Google still use them as starting point for many roles. You'll be asked to tell the interviewer about a time that you've showcased specific skills such as "Tell us about a time you failed at work", "Tell us about a time you pulled together a team" and "Tell us about a time you were proud of a project". If you google "Competency Questions", there's a multitude online to use a examples.
The trick here is to prepare a several answers which showcase success; how you bounce back from failure and team work - would recommend 10 well-practiced variations.
Answers should be structured starting with the problem and why it was an issue; the method of how you came to a solution; how you knew this was the right way to proceed; what the solution was, and finally; the outcome. Make sure to also relate this to company mission as noted above - you'll want to demonstrate how you work to the company values.
5) Define success
How you talk about success should not simply be rooted in what you learnt, but what you did for the companies you've worked for and what you could do for this new company. A company won't see you as adding value if you can say you enjoyed projects because they were interesting, as opposed to being able to show you are invested in company success and not just your own. Make a note of what your major wins are in previous roles and how they helped make real impact for the company you were working for.
6) Expect the unexpected
Mindset is half the battle, a lot of interviewers will want to see your personality, especially at late stage interviews. Revealing someone's personality can be hard for the interviewers and feel unnaturally rushed, so be prepared for questions that might catch you off guard when moving from discussing your work life. These questions can include "What's your favourite word?", "What do you do for fun?" or "What do you read?". You know the answers to these questions, so no prep required, just remember you'll need to be personal at some point (which is great, because you're awesome).
Most people find job interviews nerve wracking. You can rest assured the majority of people being interviewed has been fighting their nerves. Before your interview remind yourself that you're as prepared as you can be and the clearer your mind, the more you can showcase your knowledge. Only those who don't know whats at stake don't get nervous, embrace your nerves and then let them go...
If you suffer from particularly bad nerves, try practicing meditation daily - apps such as Headspace provide a free 7 days of content. Mediation will help clear your mind and keep you present. It's a tool a lot of career coaches recommend for nerve wracking interviews/presentations/conversations.
Or, just listen to a funny podcast before interviews - walking in with a irrepressible smile is a good way to start a conversation!
Overall we hope we've given you some good tips to set you up, any questions or comments - drop us note below.