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The Best Way to Prepare for an Interview: 12 Key Preparation Tips

Posted on 
November 5, 2021
Team Interview Kickstart

So, your application got selected, and you cannot keep calm because you know that now there is only one obstacle standing between you and your dream job — the interview. FAANG interviews are usually quite demanding, and it’s up to you to convince the interviewers that you’re the best person for the job. Here’s the thing that sets the winners apart from the rest of the pool of candidates — they have a strong and simple interview strategy, and they know exactly how to execute it. 

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready.

Having trained over 9,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the toughest tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have been landing lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $933,000! At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.

Want to nail your next tech interview? Sign up for our FREE Webinar.

In this article, we cover the best way to prepare for an interview. Here are the key things you should do to be ready:

  1. Understand the Job Description
  2. Make Sure You Have a Good Reason to Apply for the Job
  3. Familiarize Yourself With the Role and the Company’s Culture
  4. Prepare Answers to Common Interview Questions
  5. Anticipate Additional Questions
  6. Tune Your Voice and Body Language
  7. Attend Mock Interviews
  8. Have a List of Questions Ready for the Interviewer
  9. Keep Hard Copies of Your Resume Handy
  10. Prepare Your Travel Arrangements
  11. Do Not Hesitate to Sell Yourself
  12. Remember to Follow Up After the Interview

1. Understand the Job Description

While there might be some similarities in the duties of a software developer, software engineer, or coding engineer, it is essential to read the job description of the role you’re applying for. First, it will give you the details about the educational qualifications and skills you will need to qualify for the position. 

In addition, it provides an outline of the specific duties and responsibilities of the role in that company. Reading and understanding the job description is the best way to prepare and align yourself with the company's requirements. 

2. Make Sure You Have a Good Reason to Apply for the Job

Before your interview, you should be very clear about why you are applying for the position and your career goals. The interviewers would like to ensure that you are applying for the position for the right reasons, and many of their questions will be to figure out what those reasons are. This is because all employers want to hire someone who cares about their career and really wants THIS job, and not just any job.

Read The Career Path to Becoming a Software Engineer to learn more about the software engineer career path.

3. Familiarize Yourself With the Role and the Company’s Culture

Conducting thorough research on the company and the role will give you context for conversations during the interview. It will also help you prepare a list of questions that you may want to ask your interviewers. Researching the role will ensure that you are qualified and prepared to take on the challenges of the role. 

This is the best way to prepare yourself for the salary negotiation stage of the interview, as it will give you an idea of the current salary trend. Observing the company's social media footprint will help you understand the culture and the kind of personality fit they are looking for.

Recommended reading: Google Software Engineer Work-Life Balance

4. Prepare Answers to Common Interview Questions

Some common questions are bound to come up in interviews. The more you give interviews, the more you realize that some questions often come up in different variations. The best way to answer interview questions is to prepare for these questions in advance. Doing so can take the load off and give you confidence. Some of the most commonly asked interview questions are (follow the links to learn the best way to answer each of these interview questions):

Also read: Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions and Tips to Answer Them

Besides these commonly asked questions, some interviews have predetermined sections that you can prepare for. For example, all kinds of technical interviews will contain at least one coding interview round. Preparing for these interviews in advance can give you a definite edge.

5. Anticipate Additional Questions

Once you have a handle on the core interview questions, you can prepare yourself for the unknown. While no one can predict all the questions that will be asked in an interview, the best way to prepare for these questions is to train your mind to understand the different types of questions and frame answers accordingly. A quick web search will give you an idea of the kind of questions you can anticipate. You can go through 22 of the Toughest Interview Questions and Answers for help.

6. Tune Your Voice and Body Language

Software engineers often ignore this vital component of interviews. We cannot stress enough on the importance of making a positive and lasting impression during the interview process. The best way to prepare is by practicing speaking with confidence and a friendly yet formal body language. Whether they come naturally to you or not, it is essential to practice — do it by yourself in front of a mirror or with your friends or peers. 

Remember to smile, perfect your handshake, fix your posture, and smoothen your stride. You will notice the positive difference it makes to your personality, even before the actual interview. 

If you feel anxious during interviews, here’s an interesting take on how you can deal with interview anxiety and appear more confident: Overcoming Interview Anxiety ft. Stranger Things7. Attend Mock Interviews

Hiring experts agree attending 30+ mock interviews is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for the actual interview. Doing so gives you a chance to identify your weak areas and work on them. Mock interviews have a way of preparing you for the unknown. To make the best out of your mock interviews, practice them with experts and hiring managers who can give you valuable feedback to hone your interviewing skills. 

At Interview Kickstart, you get the opportunity to practice interviews with actual tech leads and hiring managers from FAANG+ companies, who have several years of experience interviewing software engineers, coding engineers, and software developers. At IK, you’ll get personalized feedback on what you’re doing right and what you need to work on. 

Register for our FREE webinar to learn more.

8. Have a List of Questions Ready for the Interviewer

Tasking the right questions can boost your chances of getting selected; it is the best way to make a good impression on the interviewer. Interviewers like candidates who ask thoughtful questions about the company and the role. It reflects your commitment towards getting the job, and it tells your interviewer that you do your homework. Some of the questions you can ask are:

  • What are the qualities of your most successful employee?
  • What does a typical day at work look like?
  • What is the best thing you like about working here?
  • What will be the next steps in the hiring process?

Also read: Phone Interview Questions to Ask the Interviewer

9. Keep Hard Copies of Your Resume Handy

Even if you’ve already sent the company your resume by email, carry extra copies of it, collated and stapled, to the interview. A good rule is to bring at least three copies for the interview panel and one for yourself. While you are preparing for the interview, go through your resume and prepare answers for any oddities that may show up, such as employment gaps or short stints of employment.

To create a top-notch resume, read How to Write a Professional Resume.

10. Prepare Your Travel Arrangements

The last thing you want to do is add to your stress on the interview day. So carefully plan your interview day a few days ahead of time. Some people even visit the interview venue before the interview date to map out the route and estimate travel time. Some of the other things you can do to work out your travel logistics are leaving early and saving the contact information and location of the venue on your GPS.

11. Do Not Hesitate to Sell Yourself

While talking yourself up might seem strange, selling yourself, when done right, can make all the difference during an interview. There’s only so much the interviewers can figure out from a resume. It is on you to show them all the things you have seen and done and are capable of doing in the future. 

One way you can do this is by making notes of your skills and relating them to the role you are interviewing for. Another way is to draw from your past experiences and relay instances where you handled adversities well. You can also present metrics or statistics from your previous jobs for this purpose.

Recommended reading: What Skills You Need to Be a Software Developer

12. Remember to Follow Up After the Interview

Following up with a short email reinstates your interest in the position. Remember to thank the interviewer for allowing you to interview with the company and invite them to ask you any additional questions. Do note that it is a good practice to follow up with your interviewers; you must time it right and make sure you do not hound them regularly for an update.

For more tips on how to crack tech interviews, read:

FAQs about Interview Preparation

Q. What is the best way to prepare for an interview?

Interviews for software engineers, software developers, or coding engineers vary in structure and process across companies and regions. You can start by preparing for an interview by visiting the company’s career page and understanding the role requirements. You can also sign up for a technical interview preparation course where experts will guide you through the entire interview process at FAANG companies. 

Q. Is it OK to bring notes to an interview?

Yes, it is acceptable to bring notes to an interview. However, you should make sure that you only use them for reference and not depend on them too much. Your focus should be on the conversation with the interviewer.

Q. How do you close an interview?

You can close an interview by asking questions, addressing any concerns, expressing your interest in the role, discussing the next steps in the hiring process, and sending a follow-up email. 

Q. When is the right time to send the follow-up email?

The best time to send a follow-up email is within 24 hours of the interview. Also, make sure you send it during working hours.

Ace Your Next Tech Interview

Interview Kickstart is the gold standard in tech interview prep. Our programs include a comprehensive curriculum, unmatched teaching methods, FAANG+ instructors, and career coaching to help you nail your next tech interview. We’ve trained thousands of software engineers, coding engineers, and software developers to land dream offers at the biggest companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Netflix. Check out some reviews to know more.

Want to uplevel your career with IK? Sign up for our FREE webinar.

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