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Dave Russell 25/10/2022

7 Interview tips for Developers

So, you’ve been invited for interview and now you don’t know what to do. It’s one thing looking at a job advertisement, updating your CV and then applying, but being called for interview – things are getting real.

But, the great thing about being called for an interview is that your CV has made a great impression and  the company has selected you as one of the shortlist. So when the pre-interview nerves kick in as you wait in reception, just remember that they want to meet you because your skills and experience match what they are looking for and you are already in the elite group.

However, while developer interviews will have many technical questions, don’t forget about all of the non-technical elements of an interview that you can easily prepare for in
advance. You may be a whizzkid technically, but struggling to describe previous roles and projects could raise question marks about culture and fit.

Below are our 7 top tips on how to prepare for non-technical interview questions:

1.   Who is interviewing you?

Knowing in advance who your interviewers are will give you a great insight into what type of questions to prepare for. If you are working with a recruiter, they will give you those names.
If you have applied directly to the company, the HR team should give you the names. If they don’t, be sure and ask.

Research these people – LinkedIn is the first place to start. Look at their career path, their previous companies and roles, education and qualifications. What are their specialities? Is there anything in your CV that will resonate with them? What are they passionate about or experts in?

This research can give you clues as to what they might focus on in an interview and if they are experts in certain areas, it shows what you cannot bluff about.

2.   First round? Second round?

If you’re being interviewed by a HR / Talent Acquisition executive, this is a more than likely a first round interview, and they will be looking at your career history, and observing how you would fit within their organisational culture and seeing what you know about the company.

There probably won’t be technical questions at this stage. Instead, there could be some competency questions e.g. “tell me about a time you had conflict with a team member” or “how do you handle tight deadlines”. These questions are designed to see how you deal with situations and if you would fit within team.

However, if there is a Head of Engineering in your interview at any stage, be prepared for some serious technical questions!

Your recruiter will be able to tell you all of this in advance and if they have worked with the company before on other interviews they should have some previous interview questions and will go through these in your interview preparation.

3.  Glassdoor

Always check out the Glassdoor section on ‘Interviews’. It’s worth having a look to see if there are any interview reviews and questions from previous interviewees for the organisation.

On Glassdoor, interviewees can leave a review of the application process, the interview and list any interview questions they were asked. They can also leave a rating for the experience
(negative, neutral, positive) and the level of difficulty.

4.   Know your own CV

When you sit down in the interview room, it can come as quite a shock to see your own CV printed out and sitting in front of the interviewers. Sometimes we forget that the document we
prepared and sent off will be used as the basis for most of the interview. And sometimes, when we see it staring back at us, we can’t remember what we wrote in it.  

Your CV could form at least 70% of the interview. This is something that you can 100% prepare for.

As Elliot Loh, on Quora says “If it’s on your resume, it’s fair game for deep questioning, and neither you nor your interviewer wants you to be embarrassed. This is…about choosing content that leads to fruitful discussion. In other words, it’s against expectation if an interviewer asks you about something that you wrote and you give a flat answer. Think of your resume as the only deck of cards you bring to the table, stacked heavily in your favor.  Any card that your interviewer pulls should be a fantastic result for you.”

So how to prepare? It’s easy:

  • Put time aside a day or two before the interview.        
  • Print out a copy of the CV that you used to for this role.
  • You might have had numerous versions of your CV if you’ve changed it for each application (which is recommended) but you need to be using the exact CV that you submitted for this interview. As the interviewers will have that in their
  • Go through your CV in detail line by line – all of it. From your education, current role, previous roles to achievements and interests.
  • Practise talking about loud about everything. Yes – out loud and about everything on your CV. For example, if you have said that you compete in Triathlons, or play GAA, or go kite surfing in the interests part, have something prepared on that.

The more you prepare here, the better your answers will be, and the more time it gives you in the interview for technical and competency questions where you have to think on your feet.

5.   Concise answers

Imagine the interviewer says “I see that you worked for ABCD Ltd. for nearly 4 years. Can you tell me a little bit about that?”. What do you say? It’s a fairly open question, and there is a huge temptation to talk endlessly about this role. But don’t.

The key here is to have a short, concise answer that tells the interviewer what line of business the company is in, the type of team structure you were part of, and some of your most impressive responsibilities and projects.

Try not to hijack each question. Don’t waffle on and don’t ramble. It’ll take a bit of practice in advance to get a nice, short and informative answer to each question, but it’ll be worth it. And don’t worry about not giving very detailed answers, if the interviewers want to know more on anything they will certainly drill down on whatever they want to.

Also, the interviewers could have a standard script that they follow and they have certain questions that they need to get through in let’s say, one hour. And, there could be more interviewees after you, so the interview will have to end your interview at a specified time. Make the most of the time that you have with short and informative answers.

6.   Why do you want to work here?

All interviewers love it when interviewees (a) know why they want the role and (b) can explain it clearly.

It’s just a simple question but one that regularly stumps interviewees. If you have a really well thought out answer and one shows a genuine desire to join – well, there’s nothing like flattery to make a great impression. Your reasons could be because of their great products or their track record for great innovation and new ideas or their emphasis on career progression. Whatever your reasons are, have well researched points to back them up.  

(And try to show a deeper level for joining other than free snacks and hoodies.)

7.  When in doubt – S.T.A.R.

When asked a “tell me about a time when” question, to avoid rambling, consider using the S.T.A.R. technique. It’s a 4 point strategy for dealing with behavioural type questions and can be a great asset to counteract any nerves.  

  • Situation: It’s all about the context. Was it a group project? What was your team working on? Was there a tight deadline?
  • Task: Describe your own responsibility in this project.
  • Action: What did you do? Focus solely on you – the interviewers don’t need to know what anyone else did.
  • Result: Talk about the outcome. What did you learn? What was produced?

As you can see from our top tips, with a lot of focused preparation and practice, you can navigate interviews easily and have key, influential points that you want to get across throughout the interview. And with a bit of practice, you can become more in control and deal with any question that might be put to you. There’s no reason to dread interviews anymore. Instead, use them as a great opportunity to show off all of the reasons why you want the role and why you are the best person for the job.

Rockfort Recruitment have a number of open IT roles in Cork and Munster. If you are considering changing roles and would like to have a 100% confidential talk or would like a free CV review, just contact us to arrange an appointment.

Dave Russell

Rockfort Recruitment
+353 (0)21 2061649

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