Prepare these 3 questions ahead of your technical interview

With competition increasing in the job market, candidates can present their best selves by preparing answers for standard interview questions
Elaine Burke
Prepare answers ahead of interview to present your best self
Prepare answers ahead of interview to present your best self

studioroman / Canva 

Computer engineering roles tend to involve a lengthy recruitment process with multiple interview rounds. It’s well-known that candidates will be tested during this process with brainteasers, coding challenges, and whiteboarding. 

And while many come well-prepared for the technical trials, candidates are often under-prepared for the standard interview questions. 

It’s important not to forget the Q&A element, which is all about getting to know you and how you work. Just like the technical challenges, a little preparation will go a long way to ensuring you present your best self. And there are three questions you can practically guarantee will come up in one form or another. 

What do you work with?

You will be asked about the tools of your trade, so be prepared to discuss programming languages, frameworks, libraries, databases, cloud platforms, and other technologies. 

Be specific about the tools that you are proficient with, and examine the job spec so you know exactly what you are likely to be quizzed on. You can expect follow-up questions on the tools that you mention – so don’t bluff!

It’s good to showcase your versatility and outline your experience across a wide variety of technologies, but do pick out your favorites and be prepared to explain why you like these tools and are particularly comfortable with them. 

What do you know about our company?

While this may seem like a throwaway boilerplate interview question, it can be very revealing to recruiters. If you haven’t done your research on the company at hand, or the role you are applying for, it will show, and that’s not what recruiters want to see. They want passionate individuals who don’t just want any job, but want this job, especially. 

Pick through the details of the job spec so that you understand the role available and be prepared to answer a direct question on why you want this job, specifically. 

Regarding the company, get to know its products and services, look for a client list or case studies, and see if there has been any recent news or announcements. Take note of the company’s values and find out what you can about its tech stack (often the job description will reveal a lot here). Knowledge of its competitors and target market will also be well received.

Align all this knowledge with your expertise. Note how you may have contributed to a project, or your own experience as a potential customer in their target market. Bring it back to you and how you can bring value to this organization.

Tell us about a project you worked on?

Sometimes the interviewer will frame this as a question about challenges and how you overcame them, or about things you enjoyed working on and why, or the kind of projects you choose to pick up in your spare time. Whatever form it takes, you should expect a project-based question and prepare notes to cover all of these bases. 

Make sure you demonstrate your passion and your problem-solving abilities. Don’t just outline a list of specs; explain your choices. Take note of what motivates you and the work you want to do. All of this can help a recruiter discover where you might fit in at their company.

When you revisit a project for examination, look at what you enjoyed about it, detail the challenges and how you overcame them, and also think about how you would change or improve things if you were to revisit it. You should also be prepared to explain what you learned from a project.

Projects you have completed in your spare time will show that you are driven and passionate about your work. Projects you have completed with others demonstrate your teamwork skills. 

On team projects, be prepared to outline your role and responsibilities. This is also an opportunity to mention the experience you have with project methodologies such as agile, scrum, waterfall, or hybrid models. 

Now you know what you can expect in the interview, take a look at some of these roles available now on the Interesting Engineering Job Board and start preparing for the next step on your career journey.

Senior Engineer: Managed Databases, DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean develops and maintains mission-critical cloud infrastructure for start-ups and SMBs. This remote-first role is open to an experienced engineer who will work on a small team focused on database-as-a-service products. The job spec reveals plenty of what you will be asked about in the interview process, and you can guarantee recruiters want candidates to demonstrate their passion for building useful digital tools. Note also that Golang is the “lingua franca” of DigitalOcean’s engineering teams, so experience with this is vital.

Staff Software Engineer, Northrop Grumman

Aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman is seeking a number of software engineers to join its mission systems sector. It is looking for self-driven problem-solvers who can support development through the entire product lifecycle. Candidates should have proficiency in working with real-time embedded software and those with knowledge of radar, signal processing, and/or target tracking systems are most desirable. While this role will report to the Bethpage, NY office, successful recruits will have the option to work from other Northrop Grumman locations in the US.

Principal Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services

This role is for an experienced solutions architect who can work at an AWS office in San Francisco, Dallas, or New Jersey. Working with the strategic accounts team, this role involves supporting high-value clients in their use of AWS services. To fit in with the culture at AWS, candidates should demonstrate that they are curious and willing to learn. This role requires a breadth of technical expertise along with depth of experience across one or two specific areas, and hands-on experience developing AI/ML applications on cloud infrastructure will be welcomed.

Check out the Interesting Engineering Job Board for more roles available now.

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