Eight interview mistakes that could cost you the gig

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Over the years we’ve helped countless candidates in landing their dream job. So you could say that we know a thing or two when it comes to interview tacticsSo far we’ve blogged about how you can ace a telephone interview, and provided our top tips for impressing face-to-face. Yet every bit as important as knowing what TO do at interview, is knowing what NOT to doSo let’s take a wander through eight things to be avoided at all costs.

 
  1. 1. You stake it all on youtechnical skills 

You know that you’ll complete the coding challenge. And that resume is packed to the rafters with impressive feats of coding prowess. You’ve got this, right? 

Actually, any software position requires much, much more than raw developing skills. From communication skills, to interpersonal, onto enthusiasm.

 

  1. 2. You don’t know how to answer a question 

Uh-oh. The interviewer went and did it – they asked a question that you have NO IDEA how to answer. Then, silence, as your brain fails you, and your tongue ties itself up in knots.

Here’s the thing: interviewers don’t actually expect you to answer EVERY, SINGLE, QUESTION.

That’s right.It’s perfectly OK not to know an answer. But you can (and should) impress by having a strategy that’s head and shoulders above a simple “I don’t know”.

Step one: Be honest. Don’t try to wing it (seasoned interviewers can smell a blagged response a mile off).  

 

Step two: Don’t panic – repeat after me – “it’s fine not to know the answer, it’s fine not to know the answer”. Ultimately panicking shows, and for any software position, staying calm and demonstrating problem solving skills is a must.

 

Step three: Attempt an answer – if it’s a fact-based software engineering question tell the interviewer how you’d go about finding the answer in your day to day role (would you ask colleagues, use tried and tested forums, or test various methods?). If it’s a question about your skills – such as providing an example where you’ve demonstrated X, Y or Z – admit that you don’t have an exact example, but you can tell them about the time you resolved this time-critical, super-tough coding challenge.

 

  1. 3. Not researching the company and playing detective when it comes to their interview style

Companies recruiting devs such as Amazon, LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple tend to ask this: 

 

function productExceptSelf(nums, m) {

 

}

On a good day, you may have a chance of solving it. But if you’ve never stumbled across this Prefix Sums-based type of challenge, then you face the added pressure of beady eyes that observe every key tap and back slash. 

Andyet any dev that does their research would easily discover this online. So do your research and try to uncover some intel on their interviewing approach.

 
  1. 4. You don’t ask your interviewer any questions (or you just ask a meaningless one, just to fill the time)

Come the end of the interview, when you’re asked whether you have any questions, make sure you:

  1. A. Use it as a chance to weigh up the position and companyAn interview isn’t just about a companyassessing you for their developer team – it’s equally about you working out whether this company is a snug fit for you.

  1. B. Ask questions that will also impress – could you demonstrate the amount of research you’ve done about the company or interviewer? Or show how motivated you are for career progression?

This is so important that we dedicated an entire blog to it: Software Dev… Here’s what to ask your interviewer.

 

  1. 5. Be someone else entirely – such as a personality-devoid, pinstripe-wearing software clone

Your interviewer wants to see the real you. More so than when they recruit for other departments; after all, its critical that developers work cohesively and collaboratively as a well-oiled machine. And for that, you need the right mix of personalitiesSo, be yourself. 

 

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  1. 6. Being early and organised (yay!) but just sitting on your phone checking Facebook (dislike)

You get there early, you’re fresh and organised. But then you just sit, slouched, and check your social media for the next half an hour. 

Instead, do yourself a favour – spend this valuable time reading over the role andcompany information (that last bit will be helpful when your interviewer inevitably asks: “so, what do you know about our company?”). Also, make sure you have EVERYTHING you need for the interview (read and re-read all the job documents you have at least two days before).

 

  1. 7. Thinking that aquick chat on the phone first is, in fact, just a quick chat

Hint: It’s not – what they’re really doing is checking whether you’re worthy of an interview. So dazzle them. Wmentioned the blog we’d written on this exact topic at the start of these tips. In case you missed it, here it is again: Telephone interview? Here’s a step-by-step to ace it.

 

  1. 8. Jumping ahead in coding challenges

If you’re faced with a technical interview with a coding challenge, the biggest mistake you can make is to start tapping out a solution without explaining your thinking. If you do this, and your code doesn’t work or you run out of time, you’ve missed a trick. By explaining how you’re breaking the challenge down, and talking about why you’re choosing a particular approach, you can still demonstrate your skills (even if your solution doesn’t end up working).

 

Now you know what NOT to do at interview, as well as what TO do, all you need is the interview.

 
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