If you’re qualified (and maybe a bit lucky), a good résumé will land you an interview. While interviewing with a hiring manager, recruiters, or some combination of potential team members is often tedious, there are plenty of ways to “hack” the process to make it easier and more effective.
The first thing you’ll need is patience. At first, you’ll likely be speaking to a recruiter who may know very little about the job or position. Their job is often to pre-qualify you via a set of questions forwarded along by the employer, or a few boilerplate questions that pertain to any candidate or position. While traditional jobs often yield a few 30-minute interviews, the process for tech positions can be a lot more time-consuming, often spanning many hours over several days.
That’s where research comes into play. Many websites have ‘reviews’ of the interview process for a range of firms, and many developers will blog about their interviewing experiences with a particular company on Medium or a similar platform. Even a quick search may let you know what you’re in for, and possibly with whom.
The next thing you’ll want to do is research the company itself. For example, are you interviewing with a giant health conglomerate for an iOS Developer position? If so, what are their apps? More to the point, what do you know about HIPAA laws and regulations? There’s a good chance they’ll want to know how you’d plan to improve their apps while keeping patient information private.
Having some misgivings about your skillset? Relax. Aline Lerner, CEO of interviewing.io, crunched some data and discovered that metrics such as where the candidate went to school, and their previous employment, proved the most “statistically significant” in terms of landing jobs. (Whether or not they took online learning classes also played a role.) Your knowledge of programming languages or other technical minutiae are important, but often not a make-or-break factor.
So what’s this all mean for your interview process? If you’re self-taught or not current with your skillset, it may be a good time to invest in education. At some point, the things you may not know will catch up with you. Those administering the interviews will eventually drill down into details of a particular language or technology platform, and they’re looking for someone of a similar mindset.
Should you be asked to do tasks on the whiteboard, don’t get flustered! While many think the whiteboard tech interview should be killed off, it’s also a good indicator of how you perform under pressure and work through problems. There’s nothing wrong with saying you’re stuck; as long as you show your work, you’ll give your employer a good idea of how you think (and that might be enough to land the gig).
The interviewer may also go beyond technology questions in order to get a better idea of your thought process. A popular interviewing tactic is to use non-technical questions about things like air travel or geography to try and trip interviewees up. Instead of focusing your pre-interview prep too much on the details of tech platforms or programming languages, make sure to warm up with some brain teasers or puzzles.
Once you feel confident you know how to do the job (or at least how you think it should be done!), consider why you want to work for the company. The best candidates want to be there for more reasons than money, and employers want to know their employees are invested on a different level. If passions and ideals coincide, there’s a good chance you’ll be the best new-hire they’ve ever had. Before you start the interview, make sure you can articulate that higher reason.