The technical interview is a job interview that aims to test your technical knowledge, generally related to that required by the role you are applying for.
It is very common to evaluate candidates for open positions in the fields of science, information technology, and engineering. The recruiter is in fact focused on evaluating your practical skills, necessary in the position you are potentially going to fill in the company.
Some technical interview questions are less about your knowledge and more about how you think. These questions are asked to assess your problem-solving skills or your ability to reason with numbers and variables.
This means that the recruiter may ask you to solve some puzzle or reasoning test. Not all technical interviews take place face to face; some can be done by phone, while others can be via video call, for example, with Skype. Let’s see what to expect and how to prepare for a successful technical interview.
What does the recruiter want to know in a technical interview?
The first thing the recruiter wants to make sure is that you have the right technical skills: that is, the basic knowledge required to best perform the proposed role, as well as your familiarity with different tools and technologies in that industry.
The recruiter also wants to judge your ability to apply these skills to real-life situations in the workplace.
However, testing your technical skills is not the only purpose of this interview. The recruiter will also try to understand how you cope with problem-solving and communication strategies, and therefore, how you reason and how you communicate your reasoning during the interview.
The recruiter wants to know your personality and your way of explaining and illustrating how you analyze situations, especially if the role offered involves you giving presentations, writing reports, and offering technical assistance.
Remember that the interviewer is not looking for a correct answer, they are more interested in observing the reflections you make to arrive at the answer. It will then evaluate your analytical skills, your lateral thinking, and your creativity.
A key part of the technical interview is about your way of looking for answers and solutions to problems that you have never faced before.
Like in a traditional job interview, your ability to cope with stressful situations will also be judged. The recruiter will try to understand how you work under pressure and will test you to find out.
The questions for a technical interview
The goal of most of the questions you will be asked is to understand if your performance will be good if you are hired for that role. So, you can get an idea of what questions the recruiter might ask by reading the job advertisement carefully.
Most of the ads, in fact, specify a list of technical skills required by the company. During the interview, the recruiter will want to have proof that you have those skills and knowledge.
The types of questions vary from role to role. Your point of reference will be the website of the company you applied for, and where they could publish examples of the questions of a technical interview.
Based on the job you are interviewing for, the recruiter will ask you questions about your skills, experience, qualifications, skills, languages, processes, systems, and tools you know and are the perfect match with the requirements of the company.
For example, a job interview for a position in the IT industry will focus on finding out if you have the IT skills needed to do the job well. Be prepared not only to have a ready answer, but also to demonstrate your level of proficiency in software programs, coding, programming, or web development in tests of your skills.
Prepare to answer questions concerning your training and your certifications, the aptitude questions, to those about your knowledge of technical tools, and questions about processes and your work habits.
How can you prepare for a technical interview?
Even if you can’t be completely sure about the questions that will be asked of you, you can still prepare yourself adequately to have a technical interview and make a good impression on your interlocutors.
Know the person who will conduct the interview
Sometimes, whoever conducts the technical interview is part of the department in which you will be placed. For this, tries to collect information, for example on LinkedIn, about the person with whom you will have the interview: know his professional history, the projects he collaborated on, his I work in the company and see if they publish updates about the company.
Knowing who you will talk to during the technical interview will help you understand which skills to leverage in the conversation.
Refresh your knowledge
Refresh your knowledge about those specific areas and review the fundamentals you can’t be caught unprepared for. Review the notes and notes you took during your courses or the university that you think may be relevant for that position.
Essentially, it’s kind of like preparing and reviewing for an exam, but without spending days in the library. A day or a few hours spent reviewing your skills and preparing clear and concise answers will allow you to arrive at the interview quickly and confidently.
Practice your answers with someone
Prepare answers to possible questions for a technical interview. Below you will find the list of frequently asked questions: structure the answers to these and train yourself to answer them in a direct, confident, and convincing way.
If you know someone who has the technical knowledge of the same industry you are applying for, you can take a test on your answers with this person.
Remember that the right answer doesn’t always exist
The key to answering technical questions effectively is not to look for the right answer, but to explain to the recruiter the reasoning you did that led to that answer.
The recruiter wants to make sure that you can think and hypothesize based on your knowledge. The same goes for puzzles or trick questions designed to challenge your logic. Show that you can arrive at solutions by reflecting on the data you have.
Get ready to answer the questions of a cognitive interview
Keep in mind that the technical interview is still a job interview, so make sure you also prepare yourself to answer the questions of a normal cognitive interview: those that concern you, your past work experiences, and the reasons that pushed you to apply for that position.
Read the list of questions here and find out how to prepare for the questions of an interview.
Prepare questions for the recruiter
Prepare some questions to ask the recruiter. Most interviews end with the recruiter asking if you have any questions to ask. Asking questions will bring out your interest in the company and the role and will allow you to dissolve your doubts. To find out what questions to ask the recruiter, read here.
Some suggestions: Ask about ongoing projects in their pipeline, the challenges their team faces, their development process, and/or their plans for future research and development.
The questions of a technical interview and how to answer
Questions regarding your education
Although many people have developed their technical skills as self-taught, others have received an education at some university or have completed courses and masters. The recruiter wants to know the certifications you hold and how you got them.
How to answer: Outline your academic achievements as well as the courses you took during your training. Have you received a scholarship? Conducted an important project? Carried out an internship in a company? Describe the key projects in detail and mention any tools you have learned to use.
- What are its technical certifications?
- How did your education prepare you in technical skills?
- What do you do to keep your skills up to date?
- How do you rate your core competencies for this job?
- What are your technical strengths and weaknesses?
- What technical websites do you follow?
The aptitude, or behavioral, questions are structured to understand how you behaved in different situations in the workplace. Usually, your attitude is an indicator of how your future performance will be.
How to respond: You must tell the interviewer specific examples of how you have handled a situation in the past. To formulate the answers, use the STAR system, that is, describe a past situation, the technical competence it required, the strategy you used, and the result you obtained.
- Tell me about a recent project you took part in. What were your responsibilities?
- Describe a situation where you were able to improve the design/structure/process that was originally suggested.
- Tell me about the project you are most proud of and what your contribution was.
- Tell me about a situation in which you practically applied your technical skills.
- What does / what has he done to ensure the quality of his results?
- When was the last time you downloaded a program to improve your productivity, and what was this program?
Situational questions evaluate your problem-solving skills, managing stress, and unexpected events. The recruiter asks you how you would solve a hypothetical situation in the workplace; wants to know how you face the challenges and difficulties you will find within the company and how you will be able to manage them.
How to answer: As with behavioral questions, you can answer using the STAR system. Explain how you have successfully handled a similar situation in the past. Give concrete examples and remember to describe in detail the technical skills you used and that allowed you to find the solution to your problem.
- If you disagree with how your manager tells you to handle a problem, what would you do?
- She was asked to look for a new tool and found two solutions. Assuming they are functionally equivalent, how would you choose? And why?
- How would you handle a situation where your opinion was not supported by your colleagues during a meeting?
- A colleague confides that he wants to take sick leave, while in reality, he is planning an interview with another company. What would you do and why?
Questions about technical tools, systems, processes and security
Most employers in the IT and technology industry make it quite clear in the job posting which technologies the candidate needs to know to be considered for that position. If you know in advance that they are looking for a technical skill that you lack, the best strategy is to sign up for a training course so that you can honestly say that you know it and that you are learning all its features.
How to respond: Prepare to delve into the “core concepts” of processes, development, programming, and/or systems security in your responses. You can also emphasize your ability to learn new tools quickly by providing examples of when you have done so in the past.
- What programs do you know? Where does this knowledge come from?
- Have you ever used tools to organize your work?
- What programming languages do you know?
- Have you ever used Visual Studio?
Questions about your work habits and interpersonal skills
Technical and IT specialists can be called upon to work both independently and as collaborators of a team. The recruiter is interested in knowing your interpersonal skills: teamwork, communication, and project management skills. It also wants to understand if the work processes you have used in previous experiences are aligned with those of the teams in the company.
How to answer: when you express your opinion in the answers, try to show some flexibility and your willingness to adapt to any new processes. Research the company before the interview to have a clear idea of how the company works – ideally, your answers should reflect the methods used by the company.
- What elements do you think are needed to build a successful team and why?
- If you were in charge of a team project, how would you make the important decisions? Would it compare with others?
- Do you prefer to work independently or with a team?
- What do you do to always be productive?
- Are you usually the first or the last to leave the office at the end of the day?
- Are you the kind of person who takes business calls while on vacation?
Be prepared to share with the recruiter the episodes in which you have used your most important skills, those that are necessary for the role you are applying for. Take the time to prepare your answers and make sure that the qualifications and skills you speak of are the same as described in the job advertisement.
Keep in mind that the recruiter is interested in understanding if you have the core technical skills and how you apply them, what challenges you have overcome in the past if you can adapt to the new corporate culture and work processes.
As you structure your answers to the most frequently asked questions to prepare for the interview, think back to specific anecdotes and examples from your previous work experience, where you have used these skills so that you have information to process and use to convince the recruiter that you are the right candidate.
During the technical interview
As we mentioned, this type of interview is not based on evaluating only your technical know-how, but also on your way of interacting and communicating your reasoning.
One of the things that can lead candidates to be excluded from the selection is their inability to formulate sensible answers to questions. Many have a clear answer in their heads but do not know how to articulate it and explain the arguments made.
Try not to get confused: some questions are designed to gauge your reactions and aim to openly challenge you; the recruiter probably doesn’t even expect you to know the answer!
Before answering, take a deep breath and try to find the answer based on your skills, logic, and creative thinking. The recruiter wants to see how you handle a difficult question or problem, rather than checking if you have the correct answer. Always try to answer, no matter how difficult the question may seem to you.
If you’re in too much trouble and don’t know what to say, tell the recruiter. It is much better to admit that you don’t know what to say instead of being silent or giving answers that don’t make sense. If you don’t understand the question, always ask for clarification to dispel your doubts. Also, remember to ask the recruiter questions when he asks you “Do you have any questions for me?”. Clarify your ideas about the role and the company. Asking questions is also a great way to show your sincere interest.
At the end of the interview
At the end of the interview, ask the recruiter to give you the answers to the questions you answered or ask how he/she would have solved the problem. This will show the recruiter your willingness to learn from your mistakes and learn new things.
Furthermore, if you decide to follow up after the interview, or send the recruiter an email to thank him and reiterate your interest in the position, you can include the answer to a question that you were unable to solve during the interview. / p>
Don’t worry if you make mistakes during the interview. Everyone makes mistakes, so don’t fret. If you realize you have done something wrong, you can correct your position at the end of the interview and explain to the recruiter how you would have answered more correctly.
Either way, as long as you can keep your nerve, show confidence, and prepare effectively for the interview, you’ll be able to tackle and handle even the most intricate questions of the technical interview.