Some job interview tips are reliable across every position or industry — like show up early, familiarize yourself with the company, and know the name of your interviewer. Job interviews for technical roles, however, tend to be a little more nuanced, with multiple behavioral interviews and a technical coding assessment.
There’s a lot you have to prepare for and think about ahead of a tech job interview. A typical tech job interview might include these distinct rounds:
- A screening call with a recruiter or hiring manager
- An initial interview to evaluate your soft skills
- A take-home or live coding assessment
- A final interview to meet other team members
If it’s your first time applying for a technical role, all of this might sound intimidating — but you’re probably more prepared than you think. To help you crush your next job interview, here are tips straight from other Codecademy Learners who launched new careers after learning how to code.
Talk to the recruiter
It often feels like the recruiter or hiring manager is your adversary in a job interview, but (most of the time) they want to help you succeed. (It’s literally their job to find someone for the role.) Don’t hesitate to ask the person organizing the interview questions ahead of time, like how to find the office or how many interview rounds you can expect.
In some cases, recruiters might be able to give you valuable pointers and feedback throughout the process. When Michael Wiltfong was between interview rounds for a Software Engineer position, the recruiter helped prepare him for the subsequent interview. “The recruiter believed in me — I don’t know why, but she did,” he says. “She told me, ‘They agree that you need more experience. Between now and the next interview, work on these things.’” He was able to brush up on the specific suggestions the recruiter gave, and he landed the role.
Relearn concepts and revisit courses
With Codecademy Pro, you get access to lots of additional interview prep resources, including code challenges that are based on real-world interview questions, as well as career services that will help you network and find opportunities.
Let your personality shine
Your energy, personality, and overall enthusiasm for the position and work can go a long way. For example, you’ll want to demonstrate your soft skills like communication, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving. For Implementation Engineer Petko Georgiev, “the most important thing [in the job interview] was a positive attitude,” he says.
Professional developers are constantly learning at every stage of their careers, so you’ll want to express your eagerness to learn. “Even if they ask something you don’t know, you’ve got to show a positive attitude and a willingness to learn,” Petko says. Better yet, you can talk about courses you’re currently taking or the topics and concepts you’d like to learn next.
Don’t stress if you’re asked to do something new
On the off-chance that you have to code something in a programming language that’s brand new to you for a technical interview — don’t panic. When Angelo Ćurčić was applying for his first job as a Front-End Developer, he was asked in a technical interview to recreate a webpage in C#, which he had never used before. “That was pretty daunting, and they gave me about a week to do it,” he says.
So, Angelo headed to Codecademy and crammed a bunch of C# courses. At a certain point, he realized that the assignment wasn’t meant to test his knowledge of specific C# syntax, but rather “the point was to see how quickly I could teach myself and learn,” he says. Even if you can’t become an instant expert on a new language, hiring managers want to see your approach and process.
Serena Isone, a Codecademy learner who got hired as a Front-End Engineer at Adidas, recalls feeling a lot of nerves before her technical interview. Reminding herself that it’s okay to not know all of the answers helped reassure her: “I thought, Even if I cannot solve the challenge, I want them to know how I structured my way of solving it,” she says.
Have a backup language
When you’re going into your technical interview, whether it’s a live coding assessment or a take-home project, you should clarify ahead of time whether it’s “language agnostic,” meaning you can pick any programming language, or if you’ll be asked to code in a specific language.
Avoid post-interview rumination
During the waiting period after a job interview, it’s very easy to get caught up imagining worst-case scenarios — that’s how humans tend to cope with uncertainty. However, it’s important to remember that the hiring process can take time. Juan Paredes had to wait 10 days after submitting a code challenge for a Full-Stack Engineer position to get a response. “I thought I didn’t get the position,” he recalls.
It’s totally reasonable to send a follow-up email to the person who interviewed you asking for an update or a timeline. Not only will it help quell some of your anxiety, but it also shows that you take initiative and are interested. (BTW, when Juan eventually heard from HR he was set up for an interview with the CEO of the company. “I was pretty excited — I wasn’t expecting that honestly,” he says.)
Know how to answer situational questions
When Jacinta Hayward interviewed for a Software Support Technician job, the questions were not as technical as she expected. “I thought I’d be asked about specific coding scenarios or IT troubleshooting, but it was a lot more about how you can find out things for yourself,” she says.
Situational questions gauge how you’d handle certain scenarios. Using the STAR method — which stands for: situation, task, action, and result — is an easy way to make sure you give a detailed answer that illustrates your capabilities. Remember: The point isn’t to stump you with a trick question. Recruiters and hiring managers want to see your “ability to think on the spot, find your own answers, or ask other people for answers,” Jacinta says.