Are you wondering how to do really well in an interview? You have an interviewed lined up and want to make a great impression? This blog post is for you!
Starting with the absolute basics, make sure you are prepared to speak about yourself! For some people this comes easily, for others it doesn´t, and if there are also some nerves involved it can be even more difficult. Even if you know the answers to the most simple questions it can be a good idea to repeat for yourself what you are actually going to say and what words to use. Some examples:
- Tell me about yourself!
- What does your company do?
- Can you describe your current role and your main responsibilities?
- How come you got involved in system engineering / web development / design in the first place?
- Which has been your most rewarding project and why?
If you are relocating then this is also a big topic to cover, every hiring manager is interested in a new employee´s motivations and level of commitment. Here you really want to show the interviewer that you have thought this through (which hopefully you have done). Typical questions which are likely to come up:
- How come you´re interested in moving here? Why is this a good time for a move?
- Have you been to this city before?
- Do you know anyone here already?
- How does your family feel about you moving here? Are they moving with you or staying?
- What do you know about the cost of living / rental prices / taxes?
- When do you expect to move?
I would always suggest preparing too much rather than too little. It has happened that a hiring manager has come back to me saying something along the lines of "Person X seems to be a fantastic programmer and has built some impressive stuff, although I´m concerned since he/she hadn´t even taken the time to download our app…".
When it comes to knowledge about the company itself there is usually loads of information available online, so research thoroughly. Your interviewer might well start off with “What do you know about our company?” and you want to provide a solid answer to that. Have a look at the company website, press releases, newsletter etc.
An absolute must is to download their application if it´s a possibility. You want to experience the product/service as much as possible, so if it´s a gaming studio then play a couple of their games, if it´s an e-commerce site then go through a few steps in the buying process etc. Try to imagine how the application was built, what challenges were faced from a technical/design perspective, what you would do differently, or what other similar solutions you have built previously. To show that you have taken the time to investigate the product is what the interviewer will expect at the very least, this gives the signal that you are serious about the role and a potential move.
Another great idea is to look up your interviewer in advance, perhaps on LinkedIn, Google+, Stackoverflow or Github. Can you find anything you have in common? Refer to this in the interview! Also take your time to figure out what´s important for you and what you will base your decision on. That you have taken the time to think about this will shine through during the meeting.
Dealing with hurdles
Do you know already that there are some “nice to have´s” for this role which you haven´t used yet? This can be a tricky subject since this is what might count you in or out, but try to turn a potential weakness into an advantage! People who can adapt quickly are highly desirable in any organization, so give concrete examples of how you have come into similar situations previously, not knowing all the languages/frameworks/tools etc, but you have taken initiative and quickly picked it up. Are you studying that particular framework in your spare time and you have already published something online? Highlight this!
One area in the programming and open source world I find particularly attractive is the humility and open mindset when it comes to other people´s opinions. I might have an overly romantic view but it seems to me people are happy to listen and also share their own knowledge generously. In my experience the people who do best in interviews are the ones who can argument and give reasons for why they have approached a problem in a certain way, but are equally interested in taking on board new ideas and thoughts on their own approach.
Last but not least
A great piece of advice I´ve received is “You want to do your best in the areas you can influence yourself”, and it can easily be applied in this subject. You may in advance have some doubts on whether this company/role is for you but you could very well be positively surprised during the meeting so you want to make sure that the decision is in your hands afterwards.
On a final note, remember to have fun and relax, we´re all driven to connect with other people and what´s ahead of you is a great chance to do that!
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