Career AdviceHow to Prepare for a Job Interview

Michelle Zohlman

Michelle Zohlman
writes on August 17, 2021

What’s that – You got a job interview?! Congrats, that’s awesome! 

Before we jump into maybe the next stress-inducing step of preparing for the interview, I want you to pause. Take a moment and celebrate! Order in your favorite meal, turn on and dance it out to your favorite song, call your bestie – do something that makes you feel good, and recognize your hard work so far. 

Once you do that, then start preparing. Before we jump into the tips and tricks for that, I want you to keep in mind that this is an excellent opportunity to sharpen your interviewing skills regardless of whether you get the job or not. I know, easier said than done, but it really is true. By having this mindset, you’ll see this as an opportunity no matter what, and that truly is the case. 

Every interview will always be a little different. Each company typically does things their own way, so what I share is what you might typically see; it may vary depending on the organization. Here’s what typically happens in the interview process. 

  1. Screening – After you applied and someone reviews your application, the recruiter or hiring manager will decide whether they want to learn more about you. If they do, they’ll reach out to you for a screening. This is usually someone in HR who talks to you for about 30 minutes, asking general questions on your experience and telling you about the position to ensure you’re interested in it. 
  1. Technical Interview – This is where the order of the interviews might be earlier or later in the process. Still, at some point, you’ll have a technical interview that focuses solely on your technical skills. It might consist of asking you to complete a project (kind of like a take-home test), having you whiteboard, or pair-programming with someone on their team. Check out our Technical Interviewing course to learn more about this process! 
  1. Behavioral Interview – Sometimes, this is separated from the technical interview, or it might be combined – it just depends on the company. At this stage, you’ll be asked more questions about your traits and abilities such as communication, teamwork, time management, and so on. 
  1. Final Interview – Typically, there is a final interview with the hiring manager, who is likely the person who will be your supervisor. However, I’ve been in interviews where that is the first step, and then I experience the others later on. 

So now that we’ve covered what happens in the interview process, you know what you can likely expect. Next, let’s talk about ways you can prepare for these aspects of your interview. 

Technical Interview Preparation

  • Practice Whiteboarding and Pair Programming – There are so many resources available (for free) online, or grab one of your friends and do a mock whiteboard presentation or pair program together!
  • Review possible technical interview questions
    • Google is your friend! You can type in the search engine for types of questions in a tech interview. 
    • Use the job description to inform you of what questions they might ask. For example, are they looking for someone with Python or Ruby experience? Well, there’s a good chance they’ll have you show that skill in some capacity. 
    • Follow hashtags such as #interview, #jobinterview, #technicalinterview on LinkedIn to either ask questions to the community or see what others are saying.
  • Have a portfolio (such as GitHub) and keep it updated! 

Example Technical Interview Questions

  • What are the benefits and the drawbacks of working in an Agile environment?
  • Pretend I’m not a tech person. Can you explain [a relevant technology] in simple terms?
  • How do you keep your technology skills current?

Behavior Interview Preparation

  • Review possible interview questions
    • Again, Google is still your friend here! Search typical behavioral interview questions either specifically at the company (sometimes you can find that on glassdoor) or just in general! 
    • Start a list of possible interview questions. Since my first interview as a first-time professional years ago, I started documenting all the possible interview questions that I might get asked. Next to those questions, I jot down my potential responses. Now I have a lengthy list of questions to refer to when I interview prep! 
    • Refer to the job description to inform you of what they might ask. How do they describe the person they’re looking for? What adjective are they using – strong communicator, team player, manages time well, etc.? They will likely ask some questions based on these traits. 
  • Prepare examples to speak to how you showcase these skills. It’s easy to say, “I have excellent time management, but it’s better if you can share a story of when you displayed that. Make sense? 
  • Mock interview – Maybe you feel more comfortable practicing with someone else, whether it’s a friend or mentor. Ask them to do a mock interview and get feedback! 

Example Behavioral Interview Questions

  • How do you manage your time?
  • Tell me about a time when you failed. How did you handle the situation? 
  • Share a decision that was difficult to make. 

And finally, the biggest tip I can give you is to learn your preparation style. Once you do, I am confident that you’ll become more comfortable in just about every interview. It took me a while to figure out that I’m someone that cannot plan word for word what I’m going to say in an interview. I overthink and get too nervous when I do mock interviews, but that might be what works for you. Or you might be someone that does better with just reviewing your resume or writing out some bullet points of areas you want to touch on. Personally, I love my post-it note system to map out all my ideas and thoughts and look at them on the wall.  

It might take a while to figure out, but play around and see what feels right to you! Below are some resources to help get you in the right mindset for your upcoming interview. Good luck! 

Resources:

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