Don't forget to practice your technical interview questions.
You hear a lot about soft skills these days, and for good reason; soft skills are your personality traits like creativity, emotional intelligence, and ability to collaborate with others. They're more difficult to teach than hard skills, which is why they're so important to employers.
But let's not short-change hard skills. Hard skills are the technical know-how that indicate whether or not you can do the job. If you're looking for a job in the tech industry, this is especially important. As the tech world grows and changes, you'll need to be prepared to answer technical interview questions designed to measure your skillset.
Let's take a look at 15 of the most common technical interview questions you should be prepared to answer as you look for a tech job.
It's no surprise that employers want to know about your education. It's not as simple as telling them where you went to school and what degree you earned; employers want to assess how you plan to use and continue that education.
Why did you choose your degree?
This is your chance to talk about your passion. Be specific — don't just say why you like technology, explain why you chose the specific branch of tech for your degree.
For instance, if you specialize in information security, you could talk about how tech is changing the world and making it easier for hackers and thieves to wreak havoc. Include why you want to be a part of the solution.
Do you have any technical certifications?
Go beyond your college degree. It's easy and affordable to get certifications in tech tools, softwares, and programs that are relevant to your field. Having certifications shows that you are serious about your career, and that you're willing to spend your time and your money to build your expertise.
How will your degree help you succeed at this job?
This is where you go beyond the degree and talk about what you actually learned. How are the classes that you took going to help you in real-world scenarios? Show off your smarts.
How do you plan to keep up with the changes in technology?
It's great to have a degree and multiple certifications, but the tech industry changes constantly. How will you stay on top of the current changes?
Develop a plan for updating your certifications and any other forms of continuing education that are relevant. Employers want to know that you are willing to keep growing.
Do you follow any tech websites?
The answer should be “yes!” If you don't currently follow any tech websites, now's the time to find a few that speak your industry.
Following tech websites is one of the best ways to stay on top of current trends, changes, and issues in your chosen field.
Now that the employer is familiar with your education, the interviewer will want to see how you utilize your knowledge. They'll do that by asking situational interview questions, where your response may be judged less on a right or wrong scale and more on how it fits with the company's structure and philosophy.
You have multiple deadlines and a new project gets handed to you with a deadline of “ASAP!” What do you do?
Deadlines are a constant in just about any job. Learning how to prioritize and juggle deadlines is essential. How will you determine the importance and the immediacy of the project? How will you communicate with the person who is handing it to you?
You've been asked to complete a project, but you're not sure if you understand it. How do you handle it?
Are you the type of person who jumps right in and tries to figure it out, or do you seek out more information before you start? Different employers may like different answers here. Be honest and go with your gut.
Tell me about a project where you failed
Everyone has failed; there's no reason to hide it. But, there's no reason to showcase a particularly big, damaging failure either.
Pick a project that didn't work out and talk about what went wrong, your part in all of it, and, most importantly, what you would do differently. The employer wants to know that you can learn from your mistakes.
You've made a mistake, but you are the only one who knows. What do you do?
This one is about integrity and logical thinking. Of course the employer wants to hear that you'd own up to your mistake, but why?
Honesty is great, but could that mistake lead to bigger problems, such as costly delays in the projects or more errors down the line? Owning up shows that you're a team player with the big picture in mind.
Tell me about one of your most successful projects
It's time to brag! Okay, reel it in a bit — but it's okay to show your pride in a successful project. Be sure to highlight your part in it and any way that you may have gone above and beyond to help make it happen. However, make sure you're also giving credit to others where appropriate.
Do like to work alone or as a part of a team?
There's no reason to beat around the bush here; most people enjoy some mix of either working with a team or working alone. It could be a red flag if you emphasize that you only like to work one way or the other. Explain why each has a benefit for you and what kinds of projects are best for each.
What do you do when work gets stressful?
It happens to everyone so how do you handle it? Do you like to go for a walk? Do you talk it out? Show the employer that you have creative solutions for handling stress that help make you better at your job as opposed to detracting from it.
Tell me about a time when you overcame conflict at work
Whether it was an angry customer or an overbearing co-worker, talk about a time when you faced conflict and found a productive solution. Bonus points if you found a way to handle the situation that can be used to show how you'd tackle a difficulty in your tech work.
Do you prefer to manage people or ideas?
Do you love following new trends? Do you live for that “A-ha!” moment? If so, you might
be the idea person. Or you could get joy from creating a culture where your team can learn, grow, and have their own “A-ha” moments.
Neither is right or wrong, but it can tell an employer a lot about who you are and how you work.
Technical interviews are not just about the tech
While you will likely get plenty of questions that are specific to your particular field, the rest of the technical interview is really about discovering how you work in your role, what motivates you, and what helps you gain success.
When answering technical interview questions, be efficient by limiting your answers to a couple of minutes each. Show your logical thinking and process for each answer because the employer doesn't just want to know your answer, they want to know how you got there.
As with all interviews, you want to put your best foot forward, but you also want to be honest. Fudging the lines just to make yourself look good is setting yourself — and the employer — up for trouble. It's not just about getting a job, it's about finding the right job for you.
Not sure if you're selling yourself in the interview? Our interview coaches are here to walk you through it all.