Congratulations – your job application has made a good first impression, and you’ve been invited to attend an interview! However, now’s when the hard work really starts. Employers normally interview 4 to 6 people for a job, so you need to make sure to leave a lasting impression that helps you stand out from the crowd and convince the interviewer that you’re who they’re looking for. However, by taking the time to thoroughly prepare, you can improve your chances of securing the role. As part of your preparations, you should practise your answers to some of the most common interview questions you may be asked. These may include:
- Behavioural questions – to help your prospective employer work out if you are the right personality fit for the job and for their company.
- Situational questions – to give you a chance to talk about projects you’ve worked on that demonstrate your professional skills and/or character traits.
- Technical knowledge questions – this may be an on-the-spot question or task you are given to demonstrate your knowledge of a certain area, such as a programming language.
- Background questions – an opportunity to talk about your education and experience in other roles in more detail.
Here are a few of the most common questions you may be asked in a tech interview, and suggestions on how to answer them.
1. Tell me about a time you’ve had difficulty completing a project, and what you did to overcome this.
Whether you had to manage a difficult co-worker or beat strict time limitations, this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the personality traits that make you the perfect fit for the role. Knowing how to keep a level head under pressure is a characteristic that many tech employers are looking for, and will be hoping you make mention of at some point in your answers.
The STAR method is best for a question like this: this is a response that first describes the situation, then the task that had to be completed, followed by the action you took and the result of what you achieved. By following this template, you can give a clear and compelling answer that is bound to impress your interviewer.
2. What are three words your colleagues/friends might use to describe you?
This is a question that often catches interviewees off guard. You want to strike a balance between professionalism and your true personality, to prevent coming across as either too serious or too casual. Consider what character traits you think the employer is looking for, perhaps by taking another look at the job description or person specification, and draw up a list from that.
While your co-workers and friends might see different sides of you, traits such as reliability, thoughtfulness and trustworthiness are easily demonstrable in both circumstances and will be of particular interest to an employer. Strike a balance that shows your professionalism as well as your emotional intelligence, and that highlights the best parts of your personality!
3. What would you be hoping to achieve in your first six months?
While it’s understandable that you might not have a timeline set out for a job that you don’t have yet, this is a chance to demonstrate your personal drive as well as your knowledge about a company. It could also be an opportunity to address any weaknesses of your application: for example, you can express your desire to learn a software or programming language you have less experience of using.
This question is helpful for employers as it helps them identify who is a serious candidate worth investing company time and resources into. If you can’t confidently answer this question it may come across like you’re just looking for a short term, low-commitment role to fill your time, which may not be what the company is looking for (unless, of course, the interview is for a temporary role or contract). Do your research and consider what success after six months in a role might look like not only to you, but to the company you’re interviewing with, and what steps you can take to achieve that.
4. Tell me about a new software or technology you’ve recently worked with, and how you learned to work with it.
This is a great opportunity to show off your technical knowledge and your learning processes, as well as how you keep up to date with technological developments in the industry. The tech industry is notoriously fast-paced, so if the last program or piece of software you learned to use is more than a few years old, your interviewer may question your level of interest in the position.
Don’t be afraid to talk about mistakes you made as part of your learning process: this shows a level of self-awareness and ability to reflect on your work that your interviewer will appreciate, but be careful to make sure you don’t end up waffling – again, the STAR method could be useful when answering a question like this.
5. What is a project you’ve completed that you are most proud of?
This is probably one of the few opportunities you’ll have in an interview to brag about your achievements. While you could (and should) give credit to your team members where it’s due, this doesn’t need to be more than a sentence or so, where you could talk about how great communication between you all helped a project run smoother. Keep the focus on yourself!
When planning your answer, think about what makes your example project such a point of pride: did it result in a permanent increase in your customer base, allow you to develop a new skill, or resolve a long-standing problem within the company? Frame your answer in a way that emphasises that this was not just a one-off success, and that you can provide consistently impressive results on a regular basis.
6. What methods do you use to organise and prioritise your work?
Interviewers ask this question to see if you know how to distinguish between what’s urgent and what’s important. While they’re looking to see how you handle time management, you should incorporate other factors such as how you communicate with your colleagues and supervisors. If you have experience with any project management software, now would be a good time to mention it if you haven’t already.
Try to give some real-life examples from your most recent job that showcase not only your organisational abilities, but also how you handle conflicting priorities. Flexibility is important in any work environment, but particularly in the tech industry where regular planning, testing and evaluation can quickly cause unexpected tasks to stack up. By presenting a clear, methodical yet adaptable approach to your work, you will deliver an impressive answer for this question.
7. What challenges do you think you might encounter in this position?
Another question that can catch out an unprepared candidate. Delivering a strong answer to this question shows you have the forethought to plan ahead, which will no doubt be very impressive to your interviewer. The answers for this question lie in your analysis of the job description and/or person specification for a role, as well as any personal forecasts you may have about the direction of the company or the tech industry, which will make it much easier to answer.
If a person specification asks for a quick-minded thinker, you’ll probably be expected to know how to resolve problems and make decisions fast. If it asks for a collaborative team player, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate your own strong communication skills and perhaps any prior experiences of conflict management. Your previous work or education history is an invaluable resource, particularly if you are applying for a similar role to one you have held previously. If you already have a rough idea of what to expect with the role you are interviewing for, that will definitely put you in a good position to answer a question like this.
8. Why do you want to work here?
This is probably one of the easiest questions to prepare for! In response to this question, you can show off what you know about the company. Take the time to research the company and educate yourself about their newest projects that they’ve completed, and find out if they’ve been in the news recently. You want to portray a genuine enthusiasm and desire to add value to their work; be confident, but modest.
It can be tempting to mention a salary or workplace perks as part of your response, but an answer that mentions a desire for career development will probably score you more points. You should convince the interviewer that as much as you may want to work for their company, they should want you to work for them just as much.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but this should give you a good idea of where to start in your tech interview preparations – and with IT Career Swap you can soon put this into practise, as we offer a job interview guarantee upon completion of any of our courses. Visit our website here to find out more about our courses and how we can help you kickstart your career in tech today!