Daily Tip: Handling Technical Interview Questions

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If you’re applying for a highly technical role, you can expect a job interview filled with highly technical questions. Depending on the company, the interviewer might ask you to whiteboard a problem, or solve some fun-sounding but devilishly hard puzzles, take some sort of online test, or tackle a question verbally. However the interviewer frames the questions, these tips will help you solve them as quickly—and correctly—as possible.

Take the Obvious Route: Some technical questions demand an elegant solution, but others are satisfyingly straightforward—most of the time, the job interviewer just wants to see if you have a basic grasp of the concepts and skills at hand. If an “obvious” answer jumps out at you, don’t second-guess yourself: pursue it. If you have additional time after delivering that answer (such as on a written test), you can play around with alternative paths to a solution.

Ask Tons of Questions: Much of the time, job interviewers care less about the final answer to a technical problem, and more about how you arrive at the solution. Asking the right questions can show the interviewer that you’re a meticulous and analytical thinker. Query about parameters, goals, and inputs; question whether you can think “outside the box” and approach the problem from a way other than presented.

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Never Say ‘I Don’t Know’: Continue working the problem, even if frustration builds: That’ll show your potential employer that you’re someone who hangs in there, even if things get really tough. When in doubt, it can sometimes help to analyze a similar, simpler problem and use any insights from that to solve the conundrum at hand.

Don’t Act Frustrated: The job interviewer isn’t just evaluating whether you can answer a technical question—they’re also judging your reactions and communication skills. Even if the question seems idiotic, don’t let on that you think so—just answer in as straightforward a manner as possible.

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2 Responses to “Daily Tip: Handling Technical Interview Questions”

  1. Never say I don’t know seems completely ludicrous as well as borderline dishonest. With the approach you suggest, the only thing the candidate would be demonstrating is that they cannot identify when they are out of their depth. That they do not know when to ask for help. i.e. that they will be expensive employees.