Whether you have been working in the technology field for decades, or are just dipping your toe in, few things strike as much fear in developer’s heart as the technical interview.
Now technical interviews are anxiety producing for all developers, but they can be downright paralyzing to a new developer. Especially those developers who are new to the field, just learned how to code in the last year, and have never held a full-time developer position.
But if you are committed in turning your coding hobby into a full-time (and lucrative) job, then the technical interview is a MUST.
Luckily, you are not alone!
Today we are sharing amazing tips from developers and hiring managers who have sat on both sides of the interviewing table and lived to tell the story.
Learn to talk the tech lingo
One of the more annoying aspects of the tech industry is our collective love for jargon. Asynchronous I/O, Single Page Web Apps, CX. It’s enough to make a person’s head spin. When it comes to interviews, however, brushing up on basic – and trendy – tech jargon can be used as a huge advantage.
“I remember bombing my first few development interviews,” laughs Pam Selle, a developer at Comcast. “The thing is: people aren’t complicated when they do technical interviews. They just want to know that you know the fundamentals and can talk about them using the lingo.”
It’s all about the portfolio
When it comes to the web, especially the frontend, your portfolio means everything. “Links are the new resume,” says Scott Klein, Senior Editor for News Applications at ProPublica. “The first thing I want to see is: what have you made?”
If you are just starting out, dedicate time to build up your portfolio of projects (and links). Create a website for a friend, bid for a project on Elance or Odesk, or volunteer to make a website for a local nonprofit. “Feel free to include projects where you were one of many people contributing,” says Rachel Ober, frontend engineer at Paperless Post and organizer of NYC Ruby Women meetup group. “Just throw in a screenshot and be ready to explain very clearly what you did.”
But remember, how you present that portfolio is just as important as the projects you are presenting. Take the time to plan it and design it well, consider it a project in and of itself! “If you are looking for a frontend developer position your portfolio site should be clean, and make good use of the latest technologies like HTML5 and CSS3,” adds Ober.
Be excited about the technology and the job
The most important thing, says Ober, is that you are prepared to talk about “why you love technology and what gets you really excited.” Employers want to know that you aren’t just looking for an easy paycheck, but that you are truly interested in what you will be doing, and continuing to get better at it for them.
Bonus points, of course, go to anyone who is really excited to work with a company and their specific technology. “Before and after the interview, we encourage our students to find ways to engage the company they’re interested in,” shares Rebekah Rombom, head of Employer Relations at the Flatiron School. “Go to meetups where they’re speaking or attending, build something awesome using their API, make an interactive resume just for them.” You will inevitably improve your own skillset in the process, and impress them with your interest in their company.
Lastly, remember: you are capable!
What do you do if you are just plain nervous and not sure that you have the technical chops for the job?
“Impostor syndrome,” says Rombom. “Everyone has it. Just gotta keep telling yourself you’re competent… because you are.”
And if all else fails, jokes Axel Anderson, a freelance Frontend engineer, “I tell new developers to fake it, then learn quickly.”
Of course there are limits to this approach, but Anderson admits that a lot of working in the tech industry is about being able to learn quickly on the job. “Every company uses a different set of technology and sometimes even their own proprietary thing. The key isn’t to know everything going in, but to be smart and be able to pick things up quickly.”