Let Your Thoughts Speak in a Technical Interview

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_4KEasVSIw&wmode=window&w=605&h=350]

Here is some of my coverage of the 2012 Silicon Valley Code Camp at Foothill College in Los Altos, California where I was reporting for Dice and Dice News.

Have you frozen during a technical interview? Have you been stumped by a question during a technical interview? You’re not alone. In fact, you’re everyone that’s been through a technical interview.

“No one has ever gotten every question correct,” said David McCarter, who led a presentation at the 2012 Silicon Valley Code Camp entitled, “Surviving the Technical Interview.”

McCarter advises that you come prepared for an interview. It sounds obvious, but he’s amazed at the number of interviewees that don’t research the company, the job, or study technical questions.

While you can’t know everything, you still need to practice and there are tons of technical questions online to get your chops up. The purpose of the technical interview is to see where you fit into the company’s skill sets, said McCarter.

Vocalize your thoughts

“Know what you don’t know, and admit it,” said McCarter.

Being upfront about where your knowledge exists and doesn’t exist is something the interviewer looks for. So be truthful. Even when you don’t know the answer, you can still show your process in how you’d go about solving the problem, or explain that you’ve been reading up on the topic even though you haven’t done it yourself.

Don’t be stumped by silly logical questions. They aren’t meant to be answered correctly. They’re designed to see how you go about problem solving, said McCarter.

McCarter quoted a question from Microsoft that asks, “Why are manhole covers round?” The point of the question is not to get a correct answer, but rather to hear how you think. So don’t internalize your thoughts when asked such a question. Be expressive.

McCarter recognizes that developers sometimes have a hard time expressing their thoughts. If that’s your normal behavior, put it aside for the interview and think out loud.



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