This has led to a new wave of uncertainty and confusion about what they are, how they are used and how best to prepare. In response to this, we conducted our own research and interviews with an industry expert to think about the use of technical interviews in the early career space. This article is the ultimate guide, giving you the best advice on how to prepare for a technical interview as well as concrete examples of interview questions you might be asked.
What is a technical interview?
A technical interview assesses your technical knowledge and abilities for the position. Questions and tasks are used to assess the breadth and depth of your knowledge in the subject area. The questions and tasks are further designed to assess your ability to communicate this information to both technical experts and those outside of IT and technology.
How do you prepare for a technical interview? Our best advice
- Read the Job Specifications – Use them to your advantage! Be sure to focus on key skills and technical knowledge relevant to the position.
- Review the Basics – A common mistake is being overconfident that you remember all the basics you learned some time ago. When interview nerves kick in, it’s easy to overlook them or stumble over your words. Practice explaining basic concepts to a friend and applying the information to different situations and questions.
- Potential not perfect – Especially if you are at the beginning of your career, remember that the recruiter does not expect you to know everything! No one is perfect and the key thing they want to see is your potential as well as your current abilities.
- Online Resource: Pluralsight is a great website for practicing the basics and deepening key skills depending on the role and industry you are interested in.
Tip: Additionally, BCS members can access Springboard, our online learning platform, with modules on transferable skills including business awareness, leadership and communication. If you’re new to the industry, check out our new Early Career Membership Rate.
How many technical interviews are there?
There are generally three different types of technical interviews to prepare for:
Preselection: Before being called for an in-person interview, you may be asked to complete an online task. This can be used to test one’s technical abilities and problem-solving ability before selecting suitable candidates for interview. These tasks will primarily focus on your technical abilities themselves with little application of knowledge or the need to explain your findings. The decision to invite you for an interview may be partially based on this screening activity.
Pre-maintenance task: Slightly different from the screening task, you may receive an activity before your interview and be asked to prepare something to present or discuss. The key here is to use the time you have to explore the activity in detail and ensure you understand what is being asked of you and answer the questions in detail with clear evidence of your thinking and reasoning behind your conclusions. .
A word of advice: Make sure you can explain your findings to someone who doesn’t understand technical jargon and detail your operation to demonstrate a deeper level of understanding and knowledge.
If possible, go slightly beyond what the task asks you to do. For example, suggest other solutions or demonstrate the possible limits of the project. This can help you stand out from other candidates and reflect your ability to think beyond the information given to you.
Main interview: A very common interview method is to be part of your main interview for a role focused on technical questions. The types of questions asked can vary greatly depending on the role you are applying for.
A word of advice: the main thing recruiters are looking for is to see how you think on your feet and your ability to effectively communicate your ideas and technical knowledge. Remember to take your time, read the information, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. This can help highlight your thought process and understanding of the problem as well as your method of solutions and problem solving.
What is a technical interview for?
There are two key things that recruiters look for in candidates to present at a technical interview.
- Technical capacity: They are looking to see if you really know what you are doing. From basics to advanced information, recruiters check your abilities against the information on your CV.
- Communication and transferable skills: The focus on transferable skills within the tech industry has only become more prevalent in recent years. Recruiters are now much more concerned with their ability to communicate technical information to a non-technical audience. They want to see how you would fit into the wider business and collaborate across departments to embed the importance of technical knowledge across the business.
Transferable skills recruiters will look to see in a technical interview or assignment:
- commercial awareness