New Grad’s Cheat Sheet: What You Can Expect During A Tech Interview

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For recent graduates, students, and professionals of any age, the technology industry can be particularly testing during the interview process.

There’s a lot of things that can come up during your tech interview – and you definitely want to be prepared. We’ve created a handy guide covering four areas you may be asked about during your interview. Read on!

1) Technical skills

If you’re interviewing for a technology-related position, you can be sure that the interviewer will ask you about your tech skills.

For the most part, careers in telecommunications, software, high-tech manufacturing, and computer-related systems have a wide set of informal proficiencies, and formal certifications.

This means you will be expected to have certifications relevant to the position (some examples include PHP, C++, Python, HTML). It’s likely you’ll also be tested during the interview on these proficiencies.

Sample questions: Technical skills

  • “What are artifacts produced in a waterfall model of SDLC?”
  • “What are the 7 layers of the OSI model?”
  • “A website with two app servers and one database server is slow. How would you investigate it and solve the performance problem?
  • “Write a C++ code to reverse the order of words in a string, without using any additional buffer.”

2) Knowledge of your industry and firm

Technology is all about problem-solving, and it often takes place in collaborative spaces. You may be working independently or as part of a team, depending on the project you undertake and the firm you work for.

What this means for technology professionals is that they must be familiar with their industry. Try subscribing to industry news and magazine content, joining relevant organizations and associations within your profession – an ideal candidate for any tech-related position is a candidate who can demonstrate that they are up-to-date. Technology is, after all, a constantly changing industry.

You should also have some sense of the average salary someone in your role would be making. Firms, like many other industries, will routinely ask potential candidates what they expect their salary to be. This question will determine if you, the candidate, are familiar enough with the industry to be able to offer an evaluation.

Of course, you also need to be knowledgeable about the firm you’re interviewing for. Know their latest endeavours and working clients – this will demonstrate preparation as well as commitment to the organization. So remember to do your research!

Sample questions: Industry/firm knowledge

  • What are your salary expectations for this position?
  • Tell me about a recent development in IT? Are the implications good or bad?
  • What did sales for product X look like during our last fiscal year?
  • What is your favourite part about our organization?
  • Name a client of ours you’re interested in working with and why.

3) Personal & Behavioural

These are questions you will likely run into in any role, no matter what industry you interview for. They are arguably the most important questions you will answer, because they evaluate your fit within the company as an individual.

From the very beginning of your interview, you should expect your interviewer to evaluate who you are, how you think on the spot, and how you would approach (or perhaps not approach) potentially difficult work environments or situations.

Ultimately, the employer is attempting to get a sense of who you are, and whether you “fit in” in terms of professionalism, the responsibilities of the position, and the organization’s corporate culture.

Sample questions: Personal and behavioural

  • What is your personal brand or life motto?
  • Are you a MAC or PC?
  • How have you handled poor team morale before?
  • Describe a situation where you failed at a project you undertook. What steps did you take during the fix? What would you have changed?

The Strange Skill-Test

Quite often, technology companies will ask candidates unusual questions, typically involving a fairly quick yet difficult estimation. The questions are likely to appear as brain-teasers on an LSAT or GMAT. While they may seem out of place, rest assured there is a method to their “madness”.

The tech industry looks favourably towards people who exhibit quick thinking and analytical rigour. They often need to size up markets at any given time. While these questions may appear whimsical, they are also highly technical, and are designed to weed out candidates who are unable to come up with commendable answers, live and on-the-spot.

Sample questions: The strange skill test

  • “How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. each year?”
  • “You have five bottles with pills. One bottle has 9 gram pills; the others have 10 gram pills. You have a scale that can only be used once. How can you find out which bottle contains the 9 gram pills?”
  • How would you test a calculator?
  • Describe the Internet to someone who just woke up from a 30-year coma.

Want more resources on the tech industry? Take a look at our Technology Career Guide!

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