You are about to attend a job interview, feeling lost and confused, and have a gazillion questions: How to prepare for the interview? What is the best way to introduce myself? What skills should I mention and put an emphasis on? Do I really want to work for this company? What will they ask me? What should I wear...?
Before you get lost in all these questions, you should keep in mind that with all the stress and discomfort, both you and the interviewer want it to work out. After you realize this fact and prepare yourself well, you will find out that a job interview is not as hard as it seems.
In the Job Interview Guide, you will find recommendations that will help you prepare for a job interview in general, and in the tech field in particular. In this guide, we will describe the types of job interviews. In the next part of the guide, we will explain how to get ready for the interview, while the third part will focus on preparing a pitch and on the interview itself.
The guide, spanning its three parts, is quite long, and you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information. However, keep in mind that the guide is based on our experience and a desire that you will come prepared and succeed, and on the other hand – that you will not be caught by surprise. Along with the way of preparing yourself provided in the guide, remember to trust your gut and intuition. Take advantage of your interpersonal skills and intuition to get an impression if the interview is going well and whether the workplace suits you. Enjoy the journey.
If you want, you can practice job interviews by using Jolt’s interview simulation.
Let’s get started!
Job interviews are considered in-depth interviews, which is a methodological tool used to interview a person by asking a series of questions. For interviewers, it’s effective for understanding the interviewees’ way of thinking and reviewing their behavior. This allows to gather more information about the interviewees, and learn about their thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behavior.
There are a few key types of interviews. We will talk about the following:
Fixed set of questions with a pre-arranged order
Half of the questions are structured in a pre-arranged order and half are asked during a conversation
A dialogue without fixed questions
In a structured interview, the questions are written in advance and usually have a fixed order, which means that it is conducted in the same exact manner with all the interviewees. An open interview is conducted more like a dialogue – there are no pre-written questions and the interviewer asks questions depending on the conversation progress and issues that come up.
An interview type that is not only the most interesting one, but is also the most relevant for this guide, is a semi-structured interview. This is the most common type of job interviews, in which, most often, half of the questions are structured – meaning they are written in advance and the interviewers want them answered during the interview, while the second half includes questions that arise depending on the context – from the stories and things that the interviewee chooses to share. For example, interviewees may tell about specific situations they found themselves in and in response, the interviewers will ask a question, such as “How did you deal with this situation? Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
Therefore, the interview will feature spontaneous questions that the interviewers don’t plan in advance. As part of the dialogue, questions will arise depending on what you will tell, and these questions will help the interviewers better understand how you act in different situations.
Another way to classify interviews is according to the interviewer. A preliminary interview conducted by a recruiter differs from an interview with a senior executive or company founder. Each interview requires a different kind of attention and preparation.
Types of Interviews in the Tech Industry
Phone/video interview with a recruiter
When? Usually during the first stage of the recruitment process.
How long? 15-45 minutes (a video interview will usually take longer than a phone interview).
What is the purpose? To understand if you fit the corporate culture; whether you meet the basic professional requirements for the job; whether you know how to work with any professional software; your general skills; whether you have an orientation and motivation for the job; how you behave in different situations; what situations do you tend to avoid; what is your professional passion.
The recruiter wants to see that you’re a pleasant person to talk to and that the interaction is smooth. In fact, the recruiters’ goal is to check your interpersonal skills in order to find out if you have a potential to be the next team member.
Recruiters often use a scoreboard, which is a measurement tool composed of about five criteria that may vary depending on the position you’re aiming for. Using the criteria, all candidates are rated after the initial interview. For example, if one of the most important skills for the job is creativity, it will be defined as a criterion, and the candidates’ level of creativity will be rated on a scale of 1-5. Same goes for character traits, such as assertiveness, conversational quality and verbal communication skills.
The interpersonal interaction between you and the recruiter plays a very important role and has an impact on making the decision to let you move on to the next stage. Assuming the interview went well, both at the interpersonal level and in terms of scoreboard criteria, you are likely to continue to the next stage.
This is a good time to present your pitch. You can read how to prepare a pitch is in Part 3 of the Job Interview Guide.
The goal is to review your professional experience and make sure you meet the job requirements.
This is a trick question. Make sure to avoid ambiguous answers or those that can be interpreted as strength disguised as a weakness, such as “perfectionism” or “being highly sensitive.” Before the interview, try to make a list of your skills, as well as the skills required for the job. Check what skills you don’t possess of those that are not required for the job, so they cannot hurt your chances to land that specific job. In other words, if you say that you are not creative when you’re trying to get a creative management position will most likely prevent you from moving on to the next stage. On the other hand, analytical thinking is probably less relevant in this case. You should think of something real that you are less good at, but is not necessarily directly related to the field of content, in which you are striving to engage.
Please note: it is important to be authentic and not make up flaws that have nothing to do with you. The recruiter may ask to give an example of situations in which you felt that this flaw affected your work. This note also relevant to Section 3.
This question allows the recruiter to learn about your weaknesses and things you need to improve without asking directly. It also lets them get an impression regarding your self-awareness and degree of modesty.
It refers to motivation at work, in your professional journey.
A particularly relevant question when trying to land a junior position job.
Please note: if you have changed many jobs in recent years – for example, if you haven’t kept the same job for more than a few months – the interviewer may put a particular emphasis on this question. Moreover, if the candidate says that he/she enjoyed his/her last job – this question is even more likely to be asked.
If you are currently working, you should find out about your notice period for the current employer in advance.
It is important to be prepared for this question in advance. Otherwise, you will make an impression that you haven’t done your “homework.” Check the common salary in the particular field in advance, both in the market in general and in the particular company at which you would like to work, considering your position and level in the hierarchy, relevant industry and your professional experience. It is possible that a company that has been constantly growing in recent months will pay more than the common salary in the market compared to a young startup.
In addition, if you answer this question with a question of your own and ask how much the company is willing to pay or what its budget is, it may be perceived as beating around the bush. It is important to understand if your salary expectations are within the range that the company has set for itself in order to avoid a gap that cannot be bridged. Assume that as long as the company continues with the recruiting process with you after you have shared your salary expectations, it is probably within the budget that it has set.
The goal is to learn more about you and your professional experience. Share your areas of interest, something you have recently learned, a special hobby that you have started or recently engaged in more profoundly, a certificate of excellence that you received or a significant achievement. All of these will provide the recruiter with unique information from your biography.
This allows the recruiter to learn about your professional aspirations, what the ideal job for you would be and maybe even understand why you are leaving your current job.
Both answers should be taken into account. On one hand, you need to give a relevant answer considering the position you are seeking – for example, if you are looking for a project manager position, most of the time you would work with a large number of people and not alone; therefore, in such case, saying that you prefer working independently may not play out in your favor. On the other hand, it is important not to reject the other work style. In other words, even if you say you prefer working in a team and feel that you are getting the most out of teamwork, tell why you think that independent work also has its advantages and would suit you.
This question teaches the recruiter about the day-to-day responsibilities in the position you are seeking, which will suit you more and which will suit you less.
Knowing your routine will allow the recruiter to learn about various patterns that may recur in the current position.
The goal is not to get specific names, but rather to understand which types of characters, position holders and ranks you cooperate best.
The recruiter wants to understand if you are an organizer/entertainer/dominant/quiet. This is another way to learn about your character traits.
When? Usually, after the interview with the recruiter or after a homework assignment.
How long? 30-45 minutes, via zoom or face-to-face in the company office.
What is the purpose? To check your professional suitability for the job in-depth, as well as the suitability for the team at the DNA level (your character, personality and core values). It is recommended that you take advantage of this interview to ask questions about the nature of the job, daily routine, and projects in which the team strives to engage. Most probably, you will be asked about your past experience; this may feel like you are repeating yourself, but it is also the time to highlight your accomplishments, level of professionalism, software you have become proficient with, and unique projects in which you engaged as part of your previous jobs. The interview will usually focus on these issues in-depth.
However, the interview may have additional goals that will not necessarily be said aloud, and you should be aware of this:
Common Questions (in addition to professional questions related to a specific field of content)
Interview with a Human Resources Manager
When? It will not always be part of the recruitment process, depending on the position and the company. Usually, if at the beginning of the process you are interviewed by a recruiter, then at the end of the processes you may be interviewed by an HR manager, before the interview with the founder.
How long? 30-45 minutes, via zoom or face-to-face in the company office.
What is the purpose? To understand how you behave and check your suitability in terms of the corporate culture. Unlike an interview with the recruiting manager, which focused on professional aspects, this interview in aimed to examine whether your values and conduct match the values of the organization. For example, in an organization that puts an emphasis on creativity and curiosity, an HR manager will check if you have these qualities. This will be reviewed by simulating situations you may encounter on a daily basis, exploring tasks that are more or less convenient for you to perform, as well as by sharing significant accomplishments or failures from your experience.
When? At the end of the process. Usually, the interview with the company’s founders will be the last, after which a decision will be made regarding your employment. It should be noted that the interview with the company’s founders is optional, and usually depends on the size of the company. Such an interview usually common in young companies, or in companies with a staff of up to 150 employees. It is likely that in larger companies the final interview will be conducted by a senior executive – either VP or Director.
How long? 30-45 minutes, via zoom or face-to-face in the company office.
What is the purpose? To check your suitability for the job from several angles: first, your professional suitability. The founder wants to make sure that you meet the job requirements set at the beginning of the process, that you have the necessary experience and that you are indeed the best candidate for the job. Second, the matter of fitting the organizational culture, including the aspects of company culture, values and vision – the founder wants to see that you would be able to adapt in terms of discourse and interaction with other company employees, that it will be pleasant to work with you, and that you fit the company’s vision and the way in which it plans to move forward in the coming years. You could say that this is a summary of the two previous interviews.
Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.
I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...
Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.
And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.
The cognitive load is real, y'all.
But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.
Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.
The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.
Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.
And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.
Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.
Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.
When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.
Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.
By taking this 10-min test I can set myself up for success