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What to expect in your next interview?

Posted on 28 September 2022

What to expect in your next interview?

​7-minute read

Preparation is key to any interview process, understanding what a process could look like, what could come up and who you might end up speaking with will drastically help you improve your preparation ahead of time.

We use the words ‘could’ and ‘might’ as loose phrases as each company will operate an interview process that is unique to them. Unless you have a crystal ball, it is impossible to know exactly what will come up in each interview, but understanding what the general focus at each stage will be will help you to at least put your preparation and energy into the right areas (most of the time).

In this article, we will break down the core stages of a technical recruitment process. Offering a look into the usual focus at each stage, explaining what questions you should generally prepare for.

This process will be generalised, as mentioned each company will operate their own unique process, so ensure you speak with your dedicated contact person at the company or your recruiter for specific insights into that company. Once you know the process, refer back to this article as a guide on what to expect.

 

Stage 1

Introduction / Fact find call

This first meeting is usually with an HR representative but sometimes with someone from the management team.

During this sometimes short, but often 1hour meeting, you will receive more of an overview of the business, an introduction to what the company is focusing on and where they are heading in the long-term.

The introduction call is less about deep diving into your skills and more about a generalised overview of both yourself and them.

Areas to focus your prep on

General questions – these will be rather open-ended questions about your interest in the company, personal plans for the future, strengths, weaknesses and ambitions.

Behavioural questions – low-level behavioural-based questions to just gauge if your skills are on the right line of what they require in that open role.

Communication – as it is normally an introduction, they will be focusing on your general communication skills. How you explain yourself, how you structure answers, how you pay (or don’t) pay attention etc.

Stage 2

Technical call

Your technical call will most likely be held with the hiring manager or someone from the leadership tech team. It can however be someone of a similar level as a peer technical interview.

Technical calls last around 60 – 90 minutes but can stretch a lot longer! Unlike the first stage, this second call is mainly about your background and core skills. They will likely ask situational-based questions and knowledge questions to understand what you know, what you don’t know and how you evaluate yourself.

Understanding what their stack is as a business (found on the job description or from your recruiter) will make preparing for this call a lot easier.

Towards the end of the interview, you will also have the chance to put your technical-related questions to the interviewer, helping you to understand if this is a business you could see yourself working in as well.

Areas to focus your prep on

Situational questions – these will be used to draw out your past experiences and allow the interviewers to hear how you work through different situations. Consider the company and what situations they might encounter, then reflect on your own experiences and prepare examples of how you have worked on something similar and what the outcomes were, always try and relate your answers back to the company.

Knowledge questions – these types of questions will determine your current baseline knowledge in the areas related to them. They are tough to prepare for as the questions can come from any direction. To help, ask your recruiter what the core skills for this position are, as you can expect questions here or if you applied on your own, check the job description and consider the first few points under the ‘requirements’ section, as this is usually the main skills needed for that job.

 

Stage 3

Coding challenge

The coding stage in a process can take on various forms from a live coding session to a take-home task and even the usage of timed assessments from platforms such as Codility.

You might not like them much, and we get that but coding challenges are used by the vast majority of companies so a few things to consider during this stage.

A coding challenge isn’t there to test your ability to answer everything without fault. They are designed usually in stages, progressing in difficulty as you continue through the challenge.

The first question/step will be easier, allowing you to ease into the challenge with the later questions/steps being more difficult.

The challenge will stretch your knowledge and then look to see how you tackle things you might not know.

Areas to focus your prep on

Unless you have some insider knowledge, you will start this section like anyone else… in total panic as you have no idea what the task will be until you read it.

But with that said, a few tips to help you during this stage:

1)     Read the question several times, and really understand what is being asked of you before you start coding. Those extra seconds might result in a better answer than if you just set off right away.

2)     Clean quality code is more important to the majority of companies than speed. Hiring managers want to see that you have taken care of your code and can reflect back on it without wondering where you got to.

3)     The code should work (this seems obvious but we mean work on all machines, not just yours).

4)     Irrelevant comments should be removed before you submit the task.

5)     If you are not sure what to do, ask, you won’t be penalised.

6)     Try and showcase a little more than they ask for… especially if it is a take-home challenge. Show more about yourself, but don’t go too far as they might think you didn’t read the question correctly.

7)     If it says to test the code, test the code.

8)     When you submit your code, make sure any accompanying documentation is readable.

 

Stage 4

Coding challenge review

This step might not always happen, but often if you completed a coding challenge at home you will find the next step usually is a review of that challenge. Sometimes with the hiring manager, other times with some peers.

This stage is designed to focus on a few areas. Firstly, do you truly understand what you wrote in your code, can you explain it clearly, can you adapt the code further on the spot, can you identify where you could have improved the code on further reflection.

Secondly, how well do you deal with criticism of your code, is your ego in check, can you have a high-level conversation about your code without being emotionally charged.

Lastly, how well do you communicate complex problems to those around you, are you someone who can share your opinion easily and in a straightforward manner.

From the various code reviews, we have been part of, these are usually the most important areas for the interviewers. Your code might have passed the check, but your code is not you.

Areas to focus your prep on

The biggest and best advice we can give you here is to READ YOUR CODE before the interview. It will be painfully obvious if you don’t beforehand as you will likely not remember what you wrote and why when put on the spot.

Consider adapting the code in your own time beforehand or look for errors, that way when you begin to discuss your code, you can organically bring up these issues off your own back.

 

Stage 5

Meet the team / CTO

We are on the home stretch. Time to meet the team and/or the CTO (depending again on the process).

This interview is all about culture, can they see you working side by side with them for the foreseeable future, likewise can you see yourself working with them.

The focus during these meet and greets is about communication, ambition and personality. How do you put yourself across to others, are you someone who will absorb information and/or share the knowledge you have, can the team expect new ideas from you, can they learn from you.

These and more will be going through their mind during this stage. It will be a more relaxed conversation than the code review, but don’t let that make your guard slip, it is a crucial interview and preparation is key as always.

Areas to focus your prep on

Preparing for these more relaxed interviews is extremely tough. With a tech chat, you know the focus so you can prepare. When the conversation is around personality and culture, it is something a little more abstract, therefore we advise too always be yourself.

Let your true nature shine through, don’t try to be what you think they want to see. This will only create the wrong impression and it isn’t sustainable even if you got the job.

Most of your prep here will come around from the types of questions you will want to ask them. The more open and enticing they are to the interviewer, the better impression you will create (hint, ask questions about their career and they will love you!)

 

Stage 6

Offer call

The final step in the interview process is the offer call. Listen intently to the full offer, ask questions if you are unsure on anything but this is now time to talk less and listen more.

If you got this far, excellent work and we hope the offer is what you are looking for, but as always, a little prep will make sure you know your answer straight away.

Areas to focus your prep on

Preparing for an offer call is relatively straightforward, understand exactly what you NEED to see and what you WANT to see when it comes to all the areas interesting to you (salary, job title, perks etc.).

Knowing this ahead of time will allow you to understand if this offer is right or not whilst on the call, allowing you to move towards signing, negotiating or rejecting quicker.

That is a lot to take in we appreciate that, and it is just scratching at the preparation work we cover with all of our applicants through a process ran with Peritus Partners. When we work together, we are one team. If you opt to not work with us, at least you can understand a little more about each stage of a typical tech interview, allowing you to prepare a little deeper.

If you feel someone could benefit from this article, please share it with them and lets all bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment, together.

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