Even if you know the answer to a coding problem, it’s easy to get tongue tied during a technical interview. Writing code on a white board or walking a team of engineers through an algorithm or database design is a skill that many tech professionals struggle with. Relax! Being nervous is perfectly normal and technical interviewers take that into consideration.
The interviewer expects you to ask questions and talk them through your processes and solutions, because they not only want to see what you know, but how you think.
Best of all, explaining your logic, reasoning and approach is not only a great way to convey your competence and expertise, its cathartic and will help calm your nerves. What are some other ways to create a positive impression? Here are several effective techniques for structuring your answers to technical interview questions.
Understand the Question
Sometimes interviewers intentionally ask ambiguous questions because they’re trying to see if you’re someone who will jump in headfirst before you have enough information. Always restate the question, verify the assumptions and ask questions until you truly understand the problem you’re trying to solve.
Break Down Complex Problems into Manageable Parts
Again, the interviewer is testing your problem-solving skills and the way you approach problems. Break down big problems into small, manageable bites and tackle them sequentially. Tackling smaller questions that are easier to solve can help you notice patterns and buy time while you come up with a way to solve a bigger problem.
Confirm Your Approach
Walk the interviewer through your approach before you attempt to answer a question. Don’t just focus on what or how by why you selected a particular solution. Reviewing your proposed methodology will give the interviewer a chance to adjust or clarify the question and give you the opportunity to course correct before you get too far down the road.
Explain Your Logic
Work through examples as you solve the problem and walk the interviewer through your code and process. Make things easy on yourself by always starting with the shortest, simplest solution which could be enough to satisfy the interviewer. Also, don’t overlook an opportunity to reaffirm your qualifications by briefly describing your experience with a similar problem.
Engage with the Interviewer
A technical interview is the perfect venue to showcase your communication skills and collaborative nature, so engage the interview panel in a two-way conversation, ask for feedback, and adjust your code or solution as necessary. Keep iterating through more examples if you get stuck and ask the experts for hints. A technical interview is not only a gateway to a great job but a valuable learning opportunity.
Next time, I’ll discuss mistakes to avoid and how to seal the deal after you ace your technical interview.