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How to ace a remote technical interview

Preparation is everything

Getting an in at a big company is high on the list for many developers, but interviews can be intimidating and you’re never sure what’s going to happen. Preparation is key to making a good impression and helping you get the job. 

Recently Andela’s Gabriela De Luca and Maria Rios, along with Andelan, João Ferreira, discussed what it takes to ace a technical interview at a large, global company, and the challenges candidates face, especially when English isn’t their first language.

There’s an assumption that if you’ve landed an interview with a global company then you know what you’re doing. Much of the interview will come down to your “soft” skills. 

How you conduct yourself and what you say and do when you’re not talking tech, will set you apart from the other candidates.

  • Technical competence is not enough: You need to be able to understand the problem being posed to you before you can decide how to solve the problem. Talk to the interviewer, ask questions and try to get feedback as you go along.
  • Show them your thinking: Even if you’re completing a technical task, talking through your thinking will allow them to see how you arrived at your solution. How you think is often more important than the outcome.
  • Show purpose: Companies aren’t looking for people who are just there for the job. Show the interviewers that you have a passion beyond your technical capabilities, and they’ll understand that you’re more than just the skills you have.
  • Do your research: Find out everything you can about the company beforehand. Use the Andela team to prepare for the interview and show the interviewer that you know who the company is, what they do, who their competitors are, and what their purpose is. It’s things like this that will set you apart.

The panel agreed that many people are rightly concerned about having to interview in English when it’s not their first language. They offered some strategies to help overcome this issue:

  • Talk to yourself: Think of the kind of questions you’re likely to be asked and practice your answers, either with a friend or in the mirror. Focus on obvious questions like your background and experience, as well as technical issues, as these will be asked in almost every interview.
  • Learn the lingo: If there are buzzwords specific to the company or industry phrases like “back-to-back” or “ping” make sure you understand what they mean.
  • It’s not a race: There’s no need to rush. Take your time and focus on getting your message across.
  • Relax (yeah right): It’s hard to stay relaxed in a high-pressure environment like a job interview, but staying relaxed and just being yourself is very helpful. Find some simple relaxation techniques that you can use in the moment if you find yourself getting nervous. 
  • Do your daily tasks “in English”: When you’re out and about buying groceries or getting coffee, have the conversation you’ve just had but in English and in your head. This lets you practice speaking English in a more natural environment.
  • Be yourself: There’s no need to try and put on an accent. It’s more important to be yourself and be proud of where you come from. The interview process is difficult enough without having to worry about whether you’re pronouncing a word right or not. Just watch out for words that might cause confusion because of a different pronunciation.

Most interviews today are remote and so the rules are different from what we’ve been used to. However, there are still guidelines for making sure you’re ready for the interview:

  • Stay online: Make sure that your connection is stable and fast enough so that you can stay connected throughout the interview.
  • Find your quiet place: Try to find a space that isn’t noisy, with good lighting, and without distracting backgrounds or people walking behind you. You want the focus to be on you and not on what’s happening around you. 
  • Wear pants: While remote working has seen the dress code relaxed, for the interview dress as you would for a face-to-face interview. Remember that you may need to stand up during the interview and if you’re not wearing pants it’s not going to look good.
  • It’s the same as a face-to-face interview: Many of the rules that apply to real-world interviews apply to remote interviews as well: be on time, be respectful and focus on the interview. 
  • But it’s not: Make sure that you know what tool (Zoom, Teams, Webex) they’re going to use. Do a practice call and use a headset instead of the computer microphone. If you’re going to need to use a whiteboard app, practice using it.
  • Stuff happens: Everyone understands that working remotely isn’t always simple. If there is an issue, then communicate clearly with the interviewer and they’ll understand.

If you found this blog useful, check out our other blog posts for more essential insights!

Are you a developer interested in growing your software engineering career? Apply to join the Andela Talent Network today.

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