Preparing for an interview is daunting, especially if it’s a coding interview at a big tech company. The competition to make it in FAANG and other tier-1 companies is fierce, and the acceptance rates are super low. To crack a FAANG+ interview, you must have superior problem-solving skills, creativity, and analytical capabilities.
How do you prepare yourself for such taxing interviews?
You have to ensure your tech skills are razor-sharp — that’s a given. However, there are various other factors — from being punctual and well-groomed to asking the right questions — that can make or break your chances. In this article, we’ll share some crucial tips on how to prepare for an interview to create a lasting impact on the hiring team.
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A good interview preparation plan can help you land your dream job; we’ll cover some of the key pointers to help you get ready. Here's what we'll cover in this article on how to prepare for an interview:
- Understanding the Tech Interview Process
- How to Prepare for an Interview
- More Interview Preparation Tips — What to Do During the Interview
- Following Up After an Interview
- FAQs on How to Prepare for an Interview
How to Prepare for an Interview — Start by Understanding the Tech Interview Process
Before we dive into how to prepare for an interview, you must know what happens in a tech interview. Every tech job opening receives a large number of applications, leading to stiff competition.
The lengthy and challenging technical interview processes require strategic preparation. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the various types of interview processes in top tech companies. Technical interviews can have any of the following formats:
Virtual Technical Interviews or Phone Screen
- In virtual technical interviews, the interviewer seeks information about your qualifications to understand if you’re a good fit.
- The interview questions broadly fall into three categories: behavioral, technical, and questions related to your experience.
- In the case of video interviews, you can also expect coding questions, where you’d have to write the code on a shared document/screen.
Learn more about how to prepare for phone screen interviews tips.
In-Person or On-site Job Interviews
Here, you would be called to the office or on-site for a face-to-face interview. You can expect:
- Problems that you would have to solve on the spot.
- Creating a presentation on any technical topic.
- Technical problem-solving challenges in competition with fellow candidates. They can be on a whiteboard or virtual platforms.
Technical interviews can also have take-home projects. These include the development of an application or coding assignments. Remember that the interview format varies from company to company. So, make sure you understand the interview structure at the company you’re targeting to prepare accordingly.
How to Prepare for an Interview
Besides sleeping well, staying focused, and remaining calm and confident during your preparation, there are several steps that you must follow. Here’s how to prepare for an interview:
1. Self-Evaluate Your Social Media Accounts
Updating and optimizing your social media accounts, especially LinkedIn, is essential if you are preparing for a tech job interview. Add the right keywords to land interviews at top tech companies.
Distribute the keywords across your profile, as FAANG recruiters use LinkedIn boolean search algorithms to choose suitable profiles. Learn more about how to leverage LinkedIn to land FAANG interviews.
2. Research About the Tech Company
Researching about the company gives you context for conversations during the technical interview. Look up the company's social media handles to understand their culture and personality. This will help you gauge whether the company is a good fit for you; if it is, you can prepare yourself to showcase relevant traits during the interview.
Learning about the company will also help you come up with questions to ask your interviewers. It will come in handy during the salary negotiation stage.
3. Review the Job Description
The programming languages, technology, and skills you must cover in your preparation will depend on the job description. Although there are some similarities in the responsibilities of a software developer or software engineer, it is essential to read the job description. The official job descriptions are the best places to find what technology and languages you will be expected to use and work on in the interview process and after you get hired.
4. Practice Common Behavioral Interview Questions
This is the most critical part of how to prepare for an interview — practice the most anticipated behavioral interview questions. Most tech interviews include at least a few standard questions. You must learn how to prepare for an interview through commonly asked questions.
Practice how you would answer every question. Focus your responses based on the tech company, the position, and your relevant qualifications. You can start by practicing some commonly asked behavioral questions listed below:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want this position?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- Why should the company hire you?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
- Tell me about a time you had to compromise.
Check out the common interview questions for various technical job positions at top FAANG companies. Covering questions on all key tech topics related to the role can help you answer and solve questions better than other candidates.
Also, prepare answers to any questions on work experiences and the technical projects mentioned on your resume. For instance, there can be interview questions around the tech stacks you are familiar with, the reasons behind using them, the challenges you tackled, and much more. Do not forget to carry copies of your resume.
Recommended reading: Uplevel your Amazon interview preparation with Amazon software engineer interview questions.
5. Prepare a List of Stories That Highlight Your Skills
This is how you can prepare answers for the behavioral or leadership questions at the interview. Prepare a list of stories or examples that showcase your core skills that align with the position.
Think of your key accomplishments and weave them in a pattern that highlights your top skills and proves you to be a good fit for the company. If you have a few basic examples in mind, you will have to spend just a few minutes connecting them with the interviewer's questions.
6. Use the STAR Method
When answering behavioral questions during the interview, follow the STAR format. This is the best piece of advice you can get on how to prepare for an interview. Hiring managers often ask behavioral questions to assess how you handle everyday situations in the workplace. The STAR method helps you deliver the answers in an impressively precise manner.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Using this method, you begin by explaining the context of the situation before discussing your role or task in the circumstances. Next, you highlight the actions you took to handle the challenge and, lastly, the result of your actions. You must quantify your results wherever possible.
7. Prepare for Coding Interview Problems
Coding interview preparation will require a thorough practice of fundamental concepts. Prepare using patterns if you want to crack the most challenging coding interviews, especially at FAANG companies.
When practicing coding problems, try to develop a pattern to solve them. You will likely face an unseen problem during the interview. Therefore, the best way to prepare for coding interview questions is to develop solving patterns and apply those to similar problems.
You must primarily focus your prep on the fundamentals, covering the basics of Computer Science and programming, such as:
- Data structures
- Systems design
- Algorithmic design
- Algorithmic coding
8. Practice Mock Interviews
Mock interviews are a great way of finding out how well prepared you are. Mock interviews help you practice:
- Expressing your thought process when solving coding problems
- Explaining algorithmic logic
- Formally presenting your program or solution to the panel
You can do this with friends, peers, or an interview coach like Interview Kickstart, where you can practice mock interviews with actual hiring managers and tech leads from FAANG+ companies.
9. Plan Your Questions for the Interviewer
As a part of tech interview prep, try preparing a few questions for the interviewer in advance. These can include corporate culture, professional development opportunities, and questions about the company and the job offer. However, ensure that you do not sound unaware of the fundamental goals and principles of the tech company.
You can try to link your question to something positive about your skill set or experiences.
10. Groom Yourself for the Job Interview
Grooming well for your interview will boost confidence. Job requirements do not usually specify the dress code. However, dressing appropriately can help you showcase your professionalism.
You can also check the company's website or social media profiles to learn about the dress code. If you don’t find any information, business casuals work the best for most tech companies.
More Interview Preparation Tips — What to Do During the Interview
No matter how much you prepare for a job interview, you might get nervous or not know how to conduct yourself during the interview. Here are some tips:
- Pay attention to every detail of the questions asked at the interview. Ask clarifying questions if you think some information is missing. It’s always better to check than make assumptions.
- Meet your interviewer's gaze. This will reflect your confidence, attentiveness, and engagement in the conversation.
- In the course of discussions, try leaning forward slightly to show you're alert and paying attention.
- Do not interrupt your interviewer.
- Do not slouch or assume a position that appears too relaxed.
- Slow down your verbal speed. It will give you time to think and allow the interviewer to follow everything you say.
Following Up After an Interview
Once the interview ends, you must take an extra step to enhance your chances of getting the job. Try sending a formal “thank you” email to the hiring manager after the interview. In the email, reiterate your inclination for the tech company and the position.
You can express your gratitude for the interview. You must take this as another opportunity to create a positive impression and outshine other competitors, but make sure you do not repeatedly hound them.
FAQs on How to Prepare for an Interview
Q1. How to prepare for an interview on Zoom?
The best way to prepare for a Zoom interview is to practice online mock interviews. Practice speaking slowly and clearly. Set up a distraction-free area on the day of the interview. You must test the internet connection before to avoid issues during the interview.
Q2. How to prepare for an interview at FAANG?
FAANG interviews are challenging, so you must prepare core data structures, algorithms, and distributed systems design. In addition, be prepared for behavioral, situational interview questions based on your past technical projects.
Q3. How to prepare for an interview with Google?
Start your prep by learning about the Google interview process. Start your prep at least 2 months in advance and practice algorithms and data structures daily. Solve as many programming questions as possible to develop solution patterns.
Q4. How to prepare for an interview with Facebook?
Like any other FAANG company, Facebook too expects you to have sound tech skills and behavioral traits that sync with the company culture. Learn about Facebook’s interview process, practice algorithms and data structures daily, and solve as many programming questions as you can to develop solution patterns.
Uplevel Your Interview Preparation with IK
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