3 Stages of Technical Interview and How to Ace It

Perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking moments you will experience in your professional life as a developer will be going through a series of interviews to land your dream job. It can be too overwhelming to handle if you’re new to the process. 

Interviews are highly focused and strategic professional dialogue to get to know the candidate, their skills, work experiences, character, and personality. This recruitment process is the opportunity for recruiters and candidates to determine whether the individual meets the basic requirements and fits the company’s culture. Making it a crucial part of the recruiting process.

Interviews can take some time, but preparing for and attending technical interviews take longer.

Technical interviews are designed to gauge tech talents’ programming skills through various programming challenges, and it can be pretty intimidating, especially if it’s your first one. 

Fret not. We’re here to help! You know what they say, preparedness is the ultimate confidence builder.

But first, what is a technical Interview?

Unlike non-tech-related interviews, technical interviews are more than the typical question-and-answer discussion. Technical interviews involve programming challenges and coding assignments, more like a pre-employment skills assessment. 

Interviews like these require more than words to tell what they can do, but for tech talents to show their skills. The interviewer not only asks candidates what they know but asks them to show what they can do as well. 

Most technical interviews involve coding assignments and whiteboard coding to see how tech talents solve real-world problems they will likely encounter in the workplace.

What to expect in technical interviews

Technical interviews can vary depending on the company, but these interviews come in three basic stages: phone call interviews, coding assignments, and on-site interviews.

Interviewers ask behavioral, situational, education-related, and technical knowledge types of questions to assess what you know and give coding challenges to gauge what you can do.

Phone Call Interview or Video Call Interview

Typically, candidates with impressive resumes are invited to a phone call interview. Phone call interviews or video call interviews can be considered the interviewer’s initial interviews to assess the candidate’s overall fit for the role. Candidates will be asked questions about the details you included in your resume. If you want to improve your resume, you can also read our article about it.

This interview typically lasts for 15 to 30 minutes.

Interview questions aren’t random inquiries. They have a clear purpose of getting to know the candidates. Your answers serve as the window to who you are, what your reason is for choosing them, what your skills are, and how you can contribute to the growth and success of the company.

Behavioral Questions are designed to determine how you acted or responded to certain situations you’ve encountered in your life.

Examples of questions you may encounter:

  • Could you tell me about the last challenging project you worked on?
  • Could you tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a colleague, coworker, or client?
  • Please tell me what a productive day at work looks like to you.

Situational questions would probe into how a candidate would react to possible work-life scenarios. 

Examples of questions you may encounter:

  • What will you say to a coworker who failed to complete their part of the project on time?
  • How would you tell a coworker that their codes are full of potential issues?
  • How would you deal with a problematic coworker or client?

Interviewers will also ask questions about your educational background and your programming certifications. They may ask which school you graduated from if you have any IT-related degree, which bootcamps you attended, if you attended one, or if you were self-taught, they may ask how you taught yourself.

Interviewers might also ask you technical questions to assess your technical knowledge. 

Examples of questions you may encounter:

  • How is SAN used?
  • Is it appropriate to denormalize database design? When and why do you think so?
  • Which programming language or languages are you most comfortable with?

Tips to Stand Out

  • Show enthusiasm. Be excited about the interview. The interviewer will take note of your positive attitude.
  • Prepare a concise answer to the question “Tell me about yourself.”
  • Research the company. Find out what their vision is and think about how you can contribute to fulfilling them
  • Prepare for the situational questions.
  • Don’t tattletale when you get asked a question about others.
  • Answer honestly. Don’t exaggerate your answers.
  • Don’t forget to express appreciation for your interviewer’s time.

Remote Coding Challenge

Remote coding challenges are extended to candidates who passed the initial interviews. This stage of the interview is either supervised coding or a homework-type challenge. At this stage, you will be tasked to code something related to the position you are interviewing for or be given a scenario-based question. They may ask you to write the code on paper, on a whiteboard, the Notepad, or Excel. They can let you code on an IDE if they’re kind enough.

Remote coding challenges can take a few hours, depending on the task.

Tips to Stand Out

If you’ll be supervised:

  • Make sure your laptop or desktop is in tip-top condition.
  • Slow down. Devise a plan before you start coding.
  • Talk about what you’re coding, and make it a collaborative effort as if talking to a teammate.

If it’s homework type:

  • Keep calm and take time to plan.
  • Go beyond what is expected of you; if your task is to code a landing page with a specific design, share respectful suggestions. Write notes to explain codes if you’re asked to code a reverse stack without creating additional data structures.
  • Submit your output ahead of time. Even a 5-minute advanced submission can be your advantage.

Interviewers will check your coding skills, whether you test your codes or not as you write, and gauge your problem-solving skills and collaboration skills. The interviewers will try to understand better your thought process and how well you problem-solve under the pressure of time limits.

On-site Interview

If the company is satisfied with your remote coding challenge output, you will be invited to an in-person interview, also known as the actual technical interview. On-site interviews like this usually involve more than one interviewer to assess candidates.

There are various ways companies do the on-site interview. Some companies require candidates to code alone on a whiteboard in front of interviewers, solve system-based questions with other developers from the company or make it a take-home project. You could also be asked to explain your remote coding challenge.

During the interview, interviewers will assess your behavior and attitude toward the task you’re tackling. On-site interviews are designed to push developers out of their comfort zones and test how well they can perform under pressure. They don’t only test your technical skills but also your mental, emotional, and social aptitude to work with a team under pressure.

On-site interviews could last one hour to a full day.

Tips to Stand Out

  • Don’t panic! Panicking won’t help. It would be best if you kept your cool.
  • Interviewers love candidates who ask questions. So, before you start coding, ask for clarifications, and make sure you understand what is asked. 
  • When coding on the board, talk about your codes, and walk your interviewers through your thought process. You can give them a window into your thoughts; consider it as another collaborative effort, like you’ll do it with a team.
  • Speak clearly, don’t mumble your words when you answer questions. Your communication skills are also being graded.
  • Check for errors and explain your solutions. If you have another idea or way of doing it, mention that.
  • Don’t lose your cool. Interviewers are testing how you react to everything.
  • Be polite and respectful. 

Enjoy the process! This advice might seem impossible to do with all the nerves that make you feel like you are walking on a tightrope but remember there are only two outcomes: get hired or get rejected. Make sure you enjoy the process, have fun and learn from the experience!

Include Data Compass In Your Resume

Many tech talents find on-site interviews the most intimidating part of the interview process. You will be under the scrutiny of interviewers and others involved in the process. Your interviewers will be assessing your coding skills, problem-solving ability, creativity, communication skills, analytical thinking, how you handle feedback, and cultural fit.

What if there’s a way to show what you can do without these somewhat daunting and rigid stages?

With over a decade of experience assessing tech talents, Data Compass developed an assessment tool called PIQ, or Programming Intelligence Quotient assessment. PIQ Assessment was designed to help developers determine their programming IQ and gauge their logic formulation, problem-solving and analytical skills in programming fundamentals.

After taking the assessment, you will receive a comprehensive PIQ report with a code-replay to show how you solved the assessment questions. You can copy the link to your results and share it with the company you’re applying to. 

With Data Compass, you can be the top pick for your dream destination brand.
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