Getting invited to interview with a company can bring equal parts excitement and anxiety. But if you prepare for your conversations the same way you would a test at school, you will be able to go into the interview with confidence.
We’ve worked with hundreds of people on their job search, including helping them prepare for both technical and behavioral interviews, and these are our top 3 tips.
1. Research the Company
We can’t stress this enough! You need to enter your interviews with a strong understanding of the company’s mission, values, and goals. You can prepare for this by going to their website and reading their About page. If they have a Culture page, that’s a great place to review as well. You should incorporate this information into your interview responses so the interviewer will see you are a fit for their culture.
For example, if you are interviewing with Google, check out their About page to see their mission. On their Commitments tab, you can see what they value–protecting users, expanding opportunity, including all voices, responding to crises, and advancing sustainability.
Spend some time researching the company products so you have knowledge of what you will be working on in your potential new role. If you meet with specific teams, investigate what they are doing so you can properly prepare and jump right into the work when you get there.
Sticking with Google, they have a variety of products listed on their Products page, allowing you to research what they are working on, the languages and programs they are using, and how you will contribute, even if this is your first software engineer job.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
To fully prepare for an interview, like anything else, you need to practice to become more comfortable with the questions that will be asked and the tasks you will perform. There are a lot of resources for software engineers to use when they prepare for a technical interview. We’ve compiled 90+ technical questions from real tech companies, which is a good place to start. In addition, make use of services like Leetcode to continue practicing for the technical questions.
You should also prepare for your behavioral interview by writing down answers to real behavioral questions and practicing them in front of a mirror or with a friend. There is a structure that every behavioral interview follows:
- Introduce yourself
- Résumé deep dive
- Specific questions
- Why this company?
- Your questions
Make sure you have your elevator pitch ready for the introduction. It should be 1-2 minutes and talk about your education, experience, and projects, and conclude with a summary of yourself as a candidate and a preview of your answer to the “why this company” question.
When crafting a response to the “why this company” question, keep this structure in mind:
- Mission or product first.
- Approach or values second (ex: “Nobody else approaches it like you. You’re being more scientific than ever before”).
- Avoid perks, salary, and everything else.
3. Be Smart in Your Responses
You should make sure your responses are clear, specific, and concise. You don’t want your answers to be too long, so it’s helpful to know what to be specific about. Focus on numbers, context, reasoning behind decisions, technologies or algorithms, and examples. Offer to “go into more detail” towards the end of your response, rather than running on for a long time. This restraint will show them that you have the emotional intelligence to curb yourself.
For example: “There were 3 core features that I implemented to help us. At a high level, they were a revamped landing page, social media sharing, and referrals. Happy to go into more detail on any one of them if you’d like. With these features, we reached 100,000 views in a week.”
With these tips to help you prepare for an interview, you will be able to quell your anxiety and be your best self. Our fellows’ interview performance scores have doubled, on average, using these tips, and we hope yours increases too.
If you’re interested in working with an advisor 1-on-1 for your job search, become a Pathrise fellow.