5 Tips for Crushing Developer Interviews

I am currently teaching a Programming Bootcamp for about 100 students that are going to be looking for jobs soon. With the end drawing near, I've been thinking about what advice to give them when it comes to developer interviews? I was also thinking, why not share that advice with the world?

So, here are 5 Interview Tips that will put you in a better position to crush your next developer interview!

1. Ask What to Expect

This one may seem obvious, but when talking with the recruiter, ask them WHAT TO EXPECT in the interview.  For many people, this seems pushy, but it is well within your right to know what’s coming. Not to mention, the employer will want to see you at your best, so they should want you to feel comfortable.

Questions to ask:

  • How many people will be there?
  • How many interviews will there be?
  • Will it be a panel?
  • Will I have to write code?
  • Will I have to talk through code?
  • Will there be a take-home project?

Throughout my career, I have experienced all different types of interviews; anything from the all-day interviews at Google to a casual conversation over coffee. Regardless of the type of interview, not knowing what to expect would make any interview much more difficult.

2. Be Confident

This is tough for most people including myself, but you have to be confident in your interviews...even if you have to fake it 🤣

Think about this situation:

You’re speaking to someone and their head is down and they don't make eye contact with you. Now think about speaking with a person whose eyes are up, they’re using hand gestures, they’re talking with passion and excitement.

Who would you rather hire?

It's funny how the non-technical things can really hurt you even for a technical interview. Make sure you spend some interview prep time working on the following.

  • How you communicate
  • Using hand gestures
  • How you portray yourself

I know what you're thinking, "I'm not a confident person, so I'm screwed". Well, let me stop you right there. That's just not true!

Confidence is a practiced skill just like anything else!

Being confident is a skill that you can improve over time with practice. Most of us aren't naturally confident believe it or not, but sometimes you just have to fake it 😃 It's something that you have to overcome. You have to overcome the anxiety and trick your brains into believing you are confident and then portray that to people.

A couple of things you can try:

Superman pose – Trick your mind into having that confidence by standing like superman - chest up and looking up to the sky. Do this for 10-15 seconds.

Breathing techniques - Controlling your breathing helps control your emotions and keep the nerves at bay. Do some research on breathing techniques that you can experiment with.

Confidence comes from practice. The more practice the more comfortable you become.

3. Have 2-3 Projects to Talk About

Always go into an interview with a plan of what you are going to talk about. I recommend having at least 2-3 projects that you can reference throughout your interview.

Coming out of college, In 90% of my interviews, I referenced a Harry Potter Trivia App that I built for Android. Literally any question they threw at me I could reference this project and you need to go into your interview with 2-3 of these projects.

You might get questions like:

Tell me about a time you lead a team ….. reference a project

Tell me about a struggle you have had ….. reference a project

Tell me about a win/fail you have had ….. AGAIN reference a project

Having a plan of what you are going to talk about relieves you of the stress of coming up with an answer on the spot. Plus, these projects should be ones you're proud of and comfortable with, so you're already confident when talking about them.  These projects show your passion for developing and desire to learn and create on your own. Lastly, make sure to include these on your website or Github so they are accessible for other people to look at.

4. Be Honest

Ever been asked about a technology in an interview that you know nothing about? Well, my biggest piece of advice...don't lie about it.

I've had this come up lots in my career, and my answer is usually something like… "No I'm not familiar with that technology but I am a quick learner, and I enjoy learning".

Or if it's something I've heard of ..." I've heard of that but I've never used it before. I think it's similar to Y (some other technology I have used), so I imagine it would be useful for Z".

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to explain a technology that you don't really know and be WRONG! From my perspective, that’s the worst thing you can do. In my experience as an interviewer, I want to see if you actually understand the things you say you know not that you know everything there is to know. I can teach you from there.

5. Come Up With Your Reason

You have to give employers a specific reason to hire you. Being confident is great. Knowing what to expect is great. Having projects to talk about is great... But you to come up with your reason!

Why are you unique? Why should you be hired over the other number of candidates that have similar backgrounds and skillsets? You have to show them your specific value.

Here's my reason. "I love to teach. Because of that, I will make your team better. Entry-level developers will learn and grow faster because of me. Sr. developers will continue to grow because I will challenge them."

In my mind, that's a pretty compelling reason why employers should hire me. So, what's your reason? It's a question I can't answer for you. You have to answer that one for yourself.

Recap

These are my 5 Tips for Crushing Developer interviews. I hope these tips help you be more confident for your next interview and allow you to walk away feeling like you CRUSHED it. If you have additional tips or questions, let me know on Twitter, and best of luck in your next developer interview!


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