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9 Reasons Why You're Failing Technical Interviews

Last updated on: 
September 6, 2023
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Have you failed a technical interview recently? Did you feel that your interview went well but the outcome was disappointing? Are you frustrated for not receiving feedback about why you didn’t make the grade? 

If you’ve experienced these situations or you fear the possibility of this occurring, you certainly aren’t alone! 

Cracking technical interviews, especially at FAANG companies, can be a daunting challenge for two main reasons - 

  • These companies have a stringent selection process and only the most deserving candidates get through.
  • The number of individuals applying to these positions is staggering, with the typical success rate at just around 3%-5%. 

Failing at technical interviews can be for a lot of reasons - some identifiable, and some not.  For instance, an obvious lack of preparation is an identifiable reason for failure, while a certain form of conduct in your behavioral interview can be an inconspicuous reason for rejection. 

Questions asked at technical interviews are very different from what everyday programming tasks at your job entail. That qualified developers with tons of experience (sometimes 15+ years) get rejected at these interviews isn’t uncommon.

Technical interview prep, especially for FAANG companies, requires a completely different approach, involving a blend of mastering fundamentals and applying advanced programming concepts to solve problems. 

In this article, we’ll try and understand the main reasons why you’re failing technical interviews at top companies.  

  1. Not knowing what to expect at these interviews

If you don’t know what to expect as far as the interview process and its various rounds are concerned, you’re entering the game handicapped. Make sure you know the different rounds of interviews a company conducts for a particular position. For example, if you’re applying to a software engineer position, the phone-screen interview, onsite, and behavioral rounds fundamentally make up the interview process. Knowing what to expect at every stage will help you adopt a structured and guided preparation approach. 

  1. Not knowing what topics prepare

A large number of aspiring candidates fail at interviews due to this prominent reason - not knowing what to prepare. Technical interviews at FAANG companies focus on specific topics usually pertaining to data structures, problem-solving, systems design, coding, and algorithms. As such, merely having domain-specific knowledge and expecting to sail through is a long shot. Questions asked at these interviews don’t always  revolve around what you’ve done/achieved at your previous job(s). In fact, what you’ve done over several years of employment across domains plays an insignificant part in influencing the final outcome. Knowing what topics to specifically prepare for and dedicatedly focusing on those areas is what will get you through.

  1. Not devoting enough time for prep

The timeline from starting your prep to appearing for your interview should ideally be 4-6 months given the high levels of difficulty, and the sheer number of topics to cover. Even if you’re an experienced engineer, you’ll have to devote a minimum of 3 months to align yourself with what’s expected of you in a FAANG interview. 

  1. Your LinkedIn profile isn’t up to scratch 

Did you know that several top companies have automated their candidate/profile search on LinkedIn? Well, that’s how much recruitment has advanced. So, if your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have the required visibility, you’re unlikely to get called for an interview with a FAANg company. It is essential you work on your LinkedIn profile to include the right keywords to get shortlisted by automated recruiting algorithms. 

  1. Not addressing interview anxiety

Interview anxiety undermines your confidence, preparedness, and general flow of thought. Appearing under-confident and visibly appearing stressed in an interview environment is a recipe for failure, regardless of the genius under the hood. The only way to overcome this is to actively address anxiety and take necessary steps to tackle the problem at the root. While there are professional training programs that give you sufficient insight on why you may be facing interview anxiety and how to overcome it, mock interviews are a great way to understand yourself better and manage stress in an interview environment.  

  1. Not practicing enough 

Mock interviews can be the most important part of your interview preparation process. Practicing in  a simulated environment can help you identify potential areas for improvement and work on them. Practicing with mock interviews also boosts your confidence and ability to think clearly in a real interview environment. 

Who you work with in your mock interviews also matters. Is your interviewer a qualified tech engineer who is an active hiring manager at a FAANG company? Or, Is your interviewer your peer who’s also actively preparing for tech interviews? Conducting mock interviews with hiring managers is ideal. You’ll learn about questions and situations that you wouldn’t have expected. Based on this, you can work on specific areas that need improvement and also boost your levels of confidence. 

  1. Not getting help if you need it

Don’t underestimate the difficulty involved in cracking technical interviews. It’s a widely known fact that getting an offer at Google or Facebook is far more difficult than getting into Stanford. Remember, with a mere 3%-4% success rate, you’ve got to do things differently in these interviews in order to succeed. Subscribe to a personalized technical interview prep course to understand various facets of what the process entails, the type of questions that are asked, and what these companies look for in candidates. There are quite a few reputed preparation courses that will help you nail your next technical interview

  1. Neglecting the behavioral aspect of interviews

Top tech companies have a mandatory behavioral round that significantly influences the final outcome of the interview. Especially for higher positions in an organization, the behavioral rounds are given enormous weightage in hiring decisions. Even if you're a genius as a programmer and have the capability to convincingly crack technical rounds, a misstep in the behavioral round can prove costly. Adopting an aggressive and overly casual tone while interacting with interviewers can tip the odds against you. A good way to go about this is to get help with behavioral training and practice mock interviews.

  1. Not clarifying doubts while solving problems

It is important to clarify doubts when they arise during the interview, especially when you're appearing for the programming/technical rounds. By not clarifying doubts, you risk taking a wrong approach to the problem and solving it incorrectly. Asking insightful questions also displays a deep understanding of programming concepts and an intent to take the right approach to problem solving. 

Looking for additional resources to prepare for technical interviews? Check out our comprehensive interview guides for the following companies:

Posted on 
July 16, 2020

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