Acing Technical Interviews
3 min read
I got thinking about how competitive interviews can get. I once applied for a role at tailwindui and the creator tweeted a few weeks later that they got 900+ entries for just 1 role, I still tried being optimistic, but didn't even get an invite to an interview. Fast forward, 1 year later, I had my first interviews at Google, but I also didn't get in.
But then, here I am trying to give you some tips on how to Ace your technical interviews, quite ironic. Well, I'm just trying to free my mind and hopefully help someone while doing so. On the bright side, here's something I can confidently say, in the last 1 year, for each interview I had done there was a 90% chance of me getting a next interview and a 65% chance of getting an offer. I've of course had to turn down offers. Here's how I do it.
The feedback I've gotten from most recruiters who cared to give me one is about my confidence. I'm confident I know what I'm doing, and very confident I'm up to the task so I'm able to talk confidently. The one time my confidence left me was during my interview at Google, but that's a tale for another day. There's a saying that: People won't trust you if you don't seem to trust yourself. So, the first thing is when you go to an interview, walk in with confidence.
Next, you need to know who you're talking to and stick to conversations that would be relevant to them. There are technical recruiters who understand architecture and some complex programming constructs, but most of the time, they aren't so deep in the understanding of those technical concepts. Your understanding of who your recruiter is, without necessarily asking upfront and tilting your conversation towards what they'll understand better would be a good booster. If you go too technical with someone who has no idea what you're talking about is as good as you not having that conversation in the first place. How can you establish relevance? Start out your conversation by introducing yourself and touching across some technical things you achieved, problems you've solved and a bit of story to surround it. Watch their body language and where you get the most nods is most likely their strength, double down on that.
This is a hard one, but you should get accustomed to asking your interviewer at least one question, try keeping it open enough that it can take you down to some subsequent followup questions. Also, even though there are no stupid questions, there are questions that can make you look stupid. What I mean by this, you don't want to ask questions like, "So what does your company do?", or "What's your tech stack?" those are things you could have found with a little reading on the job description or their website. Asking more specific questions that shows you've researched about their company or that you understand their niche is a booster, and asking even more interesting questions can push you further.
One of my "star boy" moments in an interview is when we got chatting (back and forth questions + followup) with my interviewer and he mentioned some bottlenecks in their system, and being a concept I've worked on like 2 years prior, I asked a question (posed as a probable solution) on an approach they could take to reduce the extent of the problem, it was a moment of a little excitement from both of us, we discussed more on it and even though your interviewer doesn't have clearance to give you promises, he gave the next steps and a timeline for me to expect a next call schedule.
This is of course not an extensive guide, a single article to rule them all. Rather this is a summarization of my thoughts and the things that are ontop of my mind right now.