If you’re pursuing a computer science, software development, science, IT, engineering, or another technical role, then you’ll likely go through a technical interview. Technical interviews are standard for positions in these fields to test practical skills required for success on the job.
Though a technical interview may sound intimidating, the goal is not to throw impossible problems and challenges your way. Instead, it’s to understand your technological know-how and information processing abilities.
Technical interviews allow interviewers to assess a candidate’s critical thinking, problem-solving, and technical skills specific to the position they’re applying for. They can include brain teasers, technical assessment challenges, numerical reasoning questions, and proficiency quizzes to test a candidate’s ability to solve problems and develop solutions.
In addition to problem-solving questions, technical interviews often include some situational and behavioral questions you’ll want to prepare for. The interview may take anywhere from an hour to a full day and can be done online, in person, or over the phone.
Employers conduct technical interviews because they want to know that you can think creatively on your toes and possess the ability to identify solutions for technical problems. In addition, interviewers can assess not only your final answers but also how you go about approaching problems and developing solutions to them. In other words, they want to know how you process information. In some cases, how you go about solving the problem is more important than coming up with a correct answer. Your methodology and approach also speak to whether you’re a good fit for the company’s culture.
Whether it’s your first or your final technical interview with an organization, use the following steps to help you prepare:
Review the job description and identify key technical skills, like programming languages, required for the job.
Conduct research on the company so you know the ins and outs of the types of problems they solve and their solutions. Some even provide example problems to solve on their websites.
Develop a list of possible problem-solving questions and challenges you might be asked based on the job description and your company research.
Practice solving the technical problems that relate to the organization and position. For example, download brain teaser applications or look for sites that allow you to test your technical problem-solving skills, like HackerRank and Codewars.
Practice communicating your answers aloud while using a whiteboard or other medium to explain your logic, like how you would explain it in the actual interview.
During the interview, take your time answering questions. Here are some points to keep in mind to help you ace the interview:
Actively listen to the questions being asked.
Ask clarifying questions as needed.
Slow down and take your time.
Think out loud.
Focus on and share your thought process and methodology behind your solutions.
If you get stuck, share specifically why you’re stuck to highlight your thought process and get help to continue.
Don’t be afraid to share multiple approaches to the problem.
Once you’re finished, ask the interviewer how they would have solved the problem.
Here are some examples of technical interview questions to help you craft your own:
How do you keep your technical skills current?
What are your favorite tech products? Why?
What are the benefits of working in an Agile environment?
What coding language are you most familiar with?
What is your favorite mobile app, and what suggestions do you have to improve it?
Describe a challenging engineering problem you solved recently.
How would you make a product more environmentally friendly?
After your interview, send a follow-up thank you email to each individual you interviewed with. And, if you don’t get the job this time, think of it this way: You now have great practice under your belt for your next technical interview!
For additional tips on how to get better at technical interviews and other career advice, visit our Job Seeker Research Center.