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8 Tips for Crushing Your Technical Interview

You crafted a perfect resume focused on the requirements of the position, wrote a compelling cover letter, and landed an interview. Now it’s time to ace the technical interview and get hired.

Let’s face it. You’re a technology pro, so every interview is going to be a technical interview, at least in part. Prepare to rock out your interview with these tips.

1. Study the Job Posting Carefully

We all know that the job description doesn’t necessarily represent the job as we well as we might like. In fact, we recently translated a real IT job description from HR to IT language to prove this point.

Unfortunately, it’s up to you to tease as many details out of the technical elements of the job from both the job description and the phone screen. What vendors do they use? What do the day-to-day tasks really look like?

With this information, you’ll not only be able to research any technologies that you’re not familiar with, but you’ll also be able to determine whether you even want the job.

2. Review the Basics

When Jeremy Cioara interviews people, he asks questions like, “What happens after you click send in an email?” In the answer, he’s looking for ports, systems, ISPs, and routers — an explanation that Keith Barker nicely provides in his Network+ training. Technical interviewers often test your basic IT knowledge, so brush up. Take some time to review the basics.

3. Think Out Loud

The technical interview is as much about your ability to break down a problem as it is about having specific technical knowledge. We are all sufficiently proficient at using the Google machine when we’re on the job. (By the way, “I’d Google it” is only acceptable as part of the answer, not as a complete answer.)

The interviewer wants to understand your thought process, so think out loud. By doing this, you’re also increasing the surface area of your response. It lets the interviewer ask additional questions that lead to additional answers, which leads to a conversation rather than an interrogation. And remember, even if you don’t know the answer, don’t panic.

4. Don’t Panic

Technical teams need adaptable people who can function well even in stressful conditions. Go into the interview with the understanding that the interviewer will throw you at least one curve ball.

Get back to the basics. Think out loud. Show the interviewer that you can calmly and systematically address a challenging problem. And, of course, don’t panic. You’ve got this.

5. Prepare a Demo

It’s increasingly common to be tasked with a project ahead of the interview. Even if you’re not required to do a pre-interview project, it might be good to compile a portfolio of projects anyway, particularly if you’re not as strong in one of the required technologies.

For instance, if you find that you’re going to be working with AWS, then start training. Spin up a web server and throw it behind an ELB. Set up a security group. Jeremy Cioara’s AWS course can teach you how to do a number of things.

When a question comes up about the technology, you can acknowledge your limited experience, but you’ll impress the interviewer if you’re then able to point to a URL to a small project that demonstrates competence with the technology.

6. Prepare Relevant Success Stories

Technical interviews typically include questions about how you handle various challenging situations, overcome obstacles, and conduct follow-up to make sure a problem is completely resolved. These are less in the realm of overtly technical questions, but it’s important to discuss your problem-solving process in the interview.

The basic structure of a success story includes three components:

  1. The challenge
  2. The action you took
  3. The resolution

The interviewer wants to learn how you operate in a work environment, including how you deal with challenging situations. The keyword here is how, so talk it through.

7. Show your Passion for IT

Bring your enthusiasm to the technical interview. Sure, your interviewer will be looking for the technical basics, but they’re also looking for someone genuinely excited about the tech, business solutions, and perhaps, even life in general.

Managers love hiring enthusiastic, positive people. You spend 40 (or more) hours per week with your coworkers, so you’re selling yourself as much as your skills. Don’t be afraid to get excited.

Managers also want to hire people who have a passion for IT and who understand that the learning never stops. Talk about your projects, courses, and certifications. If you’re a CBT Nuggets subscriber, definitely mention that. It shows that you’re committed to ongoing improvement.

8. It’s a Two-Way Street

Here’s the final thing about technical interviews: The interviewer is trying to gauge your ability to solve problems, but they’re also sizing up your personality, drive, and knowledge. And this works both ways. You’re interviewing them, too. It’s a two-way street. Do they seem enthusiastic? Are they excited about the work or tech? Or are they talking about the system like a car on its last legs?

You should ask them lots of questions to determine your fit with the company.

Think about these things before going in and you will crush your technical interview.

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