10 Interview Tips That Helped Codecademy Learners Land Tech Jobs

8 minutes

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:

  1. A screening call with a recruiter or hiring manager 
  2. An initial interview to evaluate your soft skills
  3. A take-home or live coding assessment 
  4. 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. We recently launched a new Interview Simulator (currently in beta) that walks you through different interview scenarios, including a phone screener, technical and behavioral interviews, plus a final round.  

Once you build your interview and provide details about your experience, the AI-powered chatbot will generate unique interview questions about front-end, back-end, and full-stack development. You can speak or type your responses (just like an actual interview), and we’ll provide feedback. With practice, you’ll feel primed for anything that comes at you in a job interview. Learn more about how to use the Interview Simulator here. 

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.  

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Talk up your own projects 

Going into his first tech interview, Byron Jenkins “did something very nontraditional that was kind of bold,” he says. He brought an iPad with a rough sketch of his app idea to show the interviewers how he was planning to go through the process of designing and releasing it.  

By bringing a visual representation of his app idea to the interview, Byron not only demonstrated his technical skills but also his ability to conceptualize and execute projects independently. If you don’t have extensive professional experience, find ways to leverage personal projects or initiatives to demonstrate relevant skills and problem-solving abilities. 

“A lot of interview questions are geared towards experience, and I didn’t really have much experience besides that eight-week internship,” Byron says. “Being able to talk about building my mobile app helped me answer situation questions like, Name a time where you struggled.”  

Stay open to all opportunities 

Despite not being selected for the first cybersecurity position he applied for, Mario Roman’s proactive approach on LinkedIn led him to a team member who was hiring for a different role within the company. Being adaptable and receptive to opportunities can lead to unexpected career advancements and success. 

Whether it’s a hiring manager, talent specialist, or potential teammate interviewing you, be sure to build relationships and leverage platforms like LinkedIn to network. “The way that they handled my recruitment process was great,” Mario says. “The recruiter was very nice, which is an underrated thing, and they kept me in the loop. I could tell they cared for the other person on the other end of the interview process.”  

Be honest about knowledge gaps 

Openly acknowledging that you don’t know something can go a long way in an interview. Of course, you should make sure that you meet most of the requirements for a role before you apply (our job-readiness checker can help you do that in a pinch), but don’t sell yourself short when talking about your experience and skills. 

Even if you’re grappling with intense feelings of impostor syndrome, you have to go into an interview with a confident attitude, according to Santiago Caraballo, a Data Engineer in Argentina. “You have to show that you could learn almost anything if you needed and that you are motivated,” he says. The interviewer will appreciate your humility and can-do attitude, which are essential traits in developer roles

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

The beauty of self-guided learning on Codecademy is that you can stop and start a course or path at any time, like before an interview. We have lots of courses and paths that will drill you on industry standard interview questions. For example, in the course Technical Interview Practice with JavaScript, you’ll get to practice algorithmic problem-solving; and in Technical Interview Practice with Python, you’ll make your way through lists and dynamic programming. 

If a concept comes up that you’re not familiar with, you might have to go back and do some supplemental learning. For example, between the first and second rounds of job interviews, Michael reviewed some “heady” JavaScript concepts, like testing frameworks and data structures. “I’d been reading and trying to find ways to supplement my learning and testing at this point, and by chance I read a random article on Datadog that helped me get past the third interview,” he says. 

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 professional skills 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. 

For a language agnostic interview, you should choose the language that you feel confident and comfortable coding in, and is relevant to the type of work you’d be doing in the position. Michael’s technical interview was language agnostic, so he chose JavaScript — but he also had Python as his backup language. 

We have a few courses that are designed to prepare you for technical interviews in a few go-to programming languages: Pass the Technical Interview with JavaScript; Pass the Technical Interview with Java; and Pass the Technical Interview with Python

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. 

Curious what steps Codecademy learners took to land a job interview after learning to code? Be sure to read the rest of our learner stories here or share your own story and tips here.

This blog was originally published in March 2023 and has been updated to include more tips and details about new job-readiness features.  

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