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Guest Post: What are the different types of interviews?

I’ve got a guest post this week provided by the Codementor team. Thanks to them for providing this, and I encourage you to take a look at what they have to offer.

Your resume got you in the door. What awaits you is a big hurdle: the interview process. Whether it’s a one-on-one interview with the manager, a group interview with the entire team, or multiple interviews of all types, you’ll have to pass them to land the job.

In this blog post, I’ll be sharing the different types of interviews you might encounter, and how to prepare for interviews to increase your chance of successfully landing the job. This blog post is based on a talk I gave on Codementor Events (if you prefer, you can also watch the event recording).

What are the different types of interviews?

There are many types of interviews a developer might go through in the job-hunting process. Each interview type serves a specific purpose — and understanding what that is will increase your chance of successfully landing the job. Let’s start with looking at the different types of interviews and understanding what companies are looking for in them.

HR Pre-Screen / Recruiter Call

The pre-screen is usually with an HR person or a recruiter. This is generally a quick 15-20 minute call or in-person interview where the company gets an idea of what you’re looking for. This is usually followed by an assessment.

Soft Skills and Technical Assessments

There are different kinds of assessments companies might utilize. The most common are ones that screen for soft skills and culture fit, and ones that check you have the technical skills for the job.

Personality Assessments

Checking soft skills can be done through calls, in-person interviews, application forms to fill out, or a mix of all three. With personality assessments, companies check to see if you’d be a fit for the company culture, if you’d fit in with the rest of the team, and what traits you might display if you join.

Personality assessments are usually part of the interview process at larger companies but are relatively uncommon at small- and mid-sized companies.

Technical Assessments

More commonly, you might encounter a technical or coding challenge. A lot of times, it’s done as a whiteboard interview. Alternatively, the company might simply talk you through a problem, and gauge your problem-solving skills instead of specific technical knowledge. It could also be a take-home assessment or even test various things related to code.

Regardless of the format, it’s fairly common for a technical assessment to be included in the developer interview process, no matter the size of the company. Through technical assessments, companies are able to understand how potential candidates approach issues they might encounter. It also helps them understand the future developer’s problem-solving abilities, rather than merely assessing their programming skills.

Panel or Round-Robin Interview

Another type of interview you might face is a panel or a round-robin type of interview. This can be done in a number of ways: from interview relays with individual members of the team to gathering the whole team in one room to interview the candidate together.

With this type of interview, you can expect the team members to fire off one question after another. Panel interviews aren’t just to evaluate your technical knowledge or your ability to succeed in the job, they’re also a way for companies to assess the interaction between you and the team members you’ll be working with directly.

Interview With The Manager

The last kind of interview is with the manager of the team. From individual interviews with the manager to them being a part of the panel, manager interviews can be conducted in different ways. Using my experience as an example, I and one of my senior developers will usually meet the candidate once for an hour to an hour and a half. During this time, we’ll be able to get a feel for the candidate and be able to make a hiring decision at the end.

However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, manager interviews are treated as a formality, signing off on the decision that the team members made based on their interaction with the team members. Other times, the manager’s decision is the only one that matters. While there’s really no way to know the dynamics involved in the decision-making process, the manager interview is definitely a very important stage in the interview process.

How to prepare for interviews?

Now that we have an understanding of the different interview types you might encounter, how should you prepare for interviews to increase your chances of successfully landing the job? In this section, we’ll go over the basics of preparing for interviews — and some extra tips on how to make yourself stand out from the sea of candidates. 

Social Media Review

We live in the age of social media. This means when companies and recruiters research candidates, they will also take a look at their social media profiles. So one of the first things you should do when preparing for interviews is to review your social media profiles. Are there things on there that are questionable? Are there things on there that might be offensive?

Another reason why companies review social media profiles is to see if you’re posting about the topics your job is related to. Are you including work-related tweets, not just about the company you’re working for, but the technologies you’re working with? Hiring managers do this to evaluate your passion for the technology and whether it’s something you enjoy doing all the time.

As far as which social media platform you use is up to you, but LinkedIn is a must — and ensure you keep it 100% professional there. Every hiring manager looks at your LinkedIn profile and if you don’t have one, it may negatively impact your job search.

Research, Research, Research

Don’t go blindly into an interview. Always research the company and its products. If there’s a specific team you’re interviewing for, find out everything you can about what that team does and the product they’re working on. If you’re able to bring knowledge of the company and product to the interview, it goes a long way to impressing a hiring team.

Another thing to keep an eye out for when researching the company: reviews from past employees. Using websites like Glassdoor.com, you can get a feel for the company’s work environment and whether people enjoyed working there or not. Note that you’ll have to take the reviews with a grain of salt, as you’re always going to find people who write negative reviews about a company. But most of the time you can still kind of get a feel for the company in general, giving you an idea of whether the company is a good fit for you.

Technical Preparations

It may sound obvious, but: prepare for the role that you’re applying to. What are the technologies that were advertised for that job? How familiar are you with those technologies? 

Look for common interview questions for those particular technologies. For instance, if you’re working with C#, do you understand async await and polymorphism? Can you explain the difference between abstract, public, and private classes?

If it’s not a language or framework you’re familiar with, don’t pretend that you know it. Study up on it beforehand so you can say: “Hey, you know I’ve never worked with C#, but I went and looked at some of the high-level concepts so I know a little bit about what to expect in that kind of language.”

Presentation

Another thing you should practice before interviews is on being presentable. How you present yourself is just as important as your technical skills. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear a suit and tie in interviews, but make sure your clothes are tidy and your hair is neat. The way you appear matters.

And as part of that preparation too: if you’re doing a virtual interview where you’re on video, make sure that your background is presentable. If your surroundings are cluttered, find a blank wall you can sit in front of. If your background is a mess, that will negatively impact your presentation as well. 

Practice

Mock interviews are a great way for you to practice answering some of the most common interview questions. For example, how would you answer the universal question of introducing yourself? Do you have something prepared that you can just kind of rattle off? Or will you sit there searching for an answer?

Another question that gets asked in almost every interview is: why do you think you’re a good fit for this position? Have you studied enough about the position — and compared yourself to the needs for that position — that you can say: this is why I think I would be a good fit. There are some fairly common questions out there, so research and practice even if it’s just by yourself.

Job Details

Have you researched enough about the job that you know what to expect going into the interview? By the time you go in for a technical or round-robin interview, you should already know whether it’s a full-time, part-time, or contract position, what the salary range is, and the offered benefits. Generally speaking, this is information that you should have gotten from the recruiter when you took the first HR call.

Worth

Another thing you should do to prepare yourself is to evaluate your worth. Is the pay you’re getting right now the market rate or are you underselling yourself? Take time to research the going rates for the technology, experience level, and job type that you’re interviewing for. 

Knowing your worth ahead of time will save you a lot of time in the interview and job-seeking process, as you’ll be able to filter out opportunities that don’t fit your needs. Try not to settle for something just to “get by for now”. Obviously, some of us will be in positions where we can’t wait, but if you have the time, make sure that what you’re pursuing is going to meet your needs and your worth.

Currently, it’s a job seeker’s market in most technologies. The going salaries are increasing exponentially. So if you take the time to research the market and know what you’re worth, it will save you a lot of time and struggle later on. Don’t undervalue yourself; you have worth and it’s important.

If you’d like to watch the event recording, you can find it on Codementor Events.