Tech interviews are challenging to get through. The bigger the company, the harder the interview process. It's said to be easier to get into an Ivy league school than to get into a FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) level company.
Attending interviews at these companies requires serious preparation! For some people preparing for technical interviews at top tier tech companies is akin to having a second job.
For some, interviewing at a leading tech company may be a new experience while for others this may be another run around the block. Every candidate has differing needs and challenges.
Interview preparation burnout is real
With all the demands of a regular day job and family or personal commitments, aspiring candidates are known to prepare for 2 months to 6 months to a year before taking a crack at these interviews.
Given that top tech companies deal with thousands of candidates on a regular basis, their interview processes are designed to filter out only the best.
A job at a top tech or FAANG company is much-coveted by tech talent across the industry. Getting into these companies requires candidates to have extensive knowledge, both in breadth and in depth, of coding and computer science fundamentals. Additionally, they have to also have the right non-technical skills i.e. soft skills to complement their technical skills.
From strengthening existing knowledge bases, to learning new skills, to managing work schedules and personal requirements, preparing to interview at a top tech company can be overwhelming.
Candidates have to put in tremendous effort to gain expertise in these areas to
- Meet stringent hiring critria
- Beat the competition
Working at a top tier tech company can accelerate careers to levels of success that would otherwise be hard, or impossible, to achieve. These companies often limit a candidate's chances to interview with them to only two or three attempts.
With such high stakes and lengthy and rigorous preparation schedules, many aspiring candidates experience preparation fatigue.
So, how does one ensure they avoid burning out and stay on top of things and persevere in their efforts as they prepare to interview at top tech companies?
9 ways to stay motivated as you prepare for your next tech interview
- Understand the interview process
Tech interviews, especially at Tier 1 tech companies, don’t follow a run-of-the-mill hiring process. FAANG companies design their interview process to hire at scale which calls for a generalised method of assessing candidates vs. assessing candidates on their personal strengths on an individual basis.
This puts the onus on candidates to prove to hiring committees that they are suited for a role in the company. Companies also look specifically for candidates who suit the unique cultural and skill requirements of their organization.
By understanding the interview process of the company you plan to interview for, you can narrow your scope of preparation. By focusing on the right knowledge areas vs. trying to cover an exhaustive list of topics, you can close knowledge gaps and gain the expertise you need to succeed at the interview without getting overwhelmed and burnt out.
Without a focused approach, aspiring candidates often find themselves meandering in a sea of knowledge, unsure if their preparation is heading in the right direction. \
To understand the interview process and what subject matter to focus on, companies often provide candidates resources to get insights on the right knowledge areas and skills they are looking for. You can also request recruiters for information on a company’s interview process.
- Study interview experiences of other candidates
Understanding what other candidates, especially successful candidates, went through in their preparation journeys, can provide much-required inspiration.
Relating to others who experienced similar challenges and learning how they overcame them, can help you move past difficulties to persevere in your own preparation journey.
- Take it one step at a time
Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to prepare exhaustively i.e. cover all knowledge areas and skill within a limited time frame.
To avoid preparation burnout and feel empowered to achieve success, adopt a slow and steady approach to your preparation.
- Organise your preparation process
List out the various aspects and target areas of your preparation process. This will help assess time requirements and prioritize tasks.
- Prioritize tasks
Ensure you tackle tasks in decreasing order of priority. Working on more important aspects early on in the process will boost your confidence and make for a more relaxed preparation process.
- Set goals
Identify milestones in your preparation journey to simplify your process. Achieving specific goals e.g. covering a certain knowledge topic or acquiring a new skill will help you boost confidence and keep you moving forward in your preparation process.
- Manage your prep time
Preparation for interviews at FAANG and other leading tech companies can run into several months to a year or more, depending on how many companies you plan to interview with.
Time management is key to keeping you from getting derailed and fatigued as your preparation wears on.
- Understand time commitments to your prep process
Before you begin preparing for a technical interview, understand the time you will require to adequately prepare as well as to interview with various companies.
Questions asked at technical interviews are usually very different from the tasks you’re used to working on at your regular work role. At work, your role is focused on tasks in a particular domain or on specific types of products, services, projects, or processes. However, at interviews you’ll be expected to know a lot more than your current area of expertise.
To do this, you may need to develop new skills, learn new concepts, even update current expertise.
Depending on your current levels of expertise, the role and position you’re applying for, and how competitive the interview process is expected to be, you may need to prepare anywhere from a month to a year.
Keep in mind, unless you are in between jobs or deliberately take time off, you’ll have to prepare while fulfilling your current role responsibilities and other personal commitments.
Assess how much time you need to prepare and how much time you can commit to the preparation and interviewing process to set realistic preparation goals. This, in turn, will help you create a structured preparation plan and eliminate anxiety and stress.
- Build coding capabilities, gain expertise
At technical interviews, you will be expected to solve problems in a short period of time. This won’t be possible without sufficient practice.
Beginning prep by trying to crack the toughest problems in the shortest time, as some candidates do, won’t help you develop skills the right way.
Instead, build your problem-solving capabilities slowly to ensure you develop strong conceptual knowledge and gain expertise.
Once you’re adept at solving simple problems, move on to more difficult questions. With a good grasp on your problem-solving skills you can then comfortably work on speed. Gradually, tighten time constraints until you master solving tough problems within a short period of time.
Steady progress will keep you motivated as opposed to getting frustrated and bogged down by trying to work beyond your capabilities.
- Follow a schedule
Trying to prepare in your free time will render your preparation ineffective and inadequate. This could easily lead you to feel bogged down and unenthused about pursuing your preparation seriously.
Following a structured, defined schedule will ensure you stay on track and will help you balance your commitments between your day job and personal life so you’re not overwhelmed.
A schedule will also help keep you from slacking off or procrastinating and will act as a motivator to stay on track.
- Take regular breaks
It’s important to schedule periodic breaks to rejuvenate yourself as well as to relieve yourself of stress. This will keep fatigue at bay and enjoy the process.
Preparing for technical interviews can be a gruelling process. Especially when interviewing at FAANG companies or other Tier 1 tech companies where the stakes are high and the hiring process is very competitive.
If you’re having trouble with specific knowledge areas or skills, taking a break will help clear your mind. This can help you refocus, making it easier to work on difficult topics.
Alternatively, don’t waste your time if you find yourself stuck at any time during your preparation process. Move on to the next step and return to resolve the issue later. This will help you cover more ground and prevent you from getting bogged down by difficult topics.
- Create a vision board
It’s easy to lose sight of your goal and stay motivated to make a career change given how long it takes to prepare in addition to balancing your ongoing work and personal commitments.
As time wears on, it’s not uncommon for anxiety and doubts to creep in, leaving you wanting to return to your comfort zone i.e. stay in your current role and not attempt to make a career change.
To stay enthused about your preparation process, write down what you aim to achieve at the end of it, why you decided to interview at a new company, and the benefits of landing a job offer from the company of your choice.
This will act as a constant reminder of your preparation objectives and keep you motivated to plough on through all challenges.
- Enjoy the process, align goals and benefits
To successfully prepare for a coding interview, you should either have an inherent interest in computer science as a whole or coding or problem-solving or you should learn to foster a learning mindset. If not, you’ll constantly find yourself disconnected from the entire process of preparation and wanting to give up mid-way.
While the goal of attending tech interviews is to make a significant career change, you can create interest in the process by understanding and aligning the long-lasting benefits of a new job to your process of upskilling.
Developing or enhancing fundamental computer skills, knowledge and behaviours will not only help you perform well and get through a technical or coding interview but will help you become a better engineer.
- Subscribe to a professional preparation course
Self-study can prove very challenging when preparing for a technical interview. Without the right interview preparation strategy, you could very easily wind up feeling defeated while prepping or when unsuccessful at interviews/
Many aspirants find devising a suitable preparation strategy quite difficult to do on their own. While there are many free online resources available, a considerable amount of time is required to identify the right ones for you and how to use them properly.
Ad hoc preparation without the right guidance or access to the right resources can easily devolve into chaos.
One way to keep your head in the game is to adopt a structured preparation plan for technical interviews. With the right professional preparation course for technical interviews, you can gain access to a team of coaches who are invested in motivating you and upskilling you for success.
As professionals from the tech industry, these coaches and mentors provide the right support to boost your confidence levels as you improve your skill levels.
They also provide guidance and insights into the interview processes of different tech companies and how to navigate them based on first-hand experience from having worked at these companies. Knowing you’re more likely to succeed with the right support will keep you strongly motivated while preparing for technical interviews at top tech companies.
- Set realistic expectations
Set realistic expectations to avoid losing steam trying to achieve a goal beyond your reach.
Everyone requires a different amount of time to prepare for a technical interview. Expecting to wing it at an interview without adequate preparation or to succeed at the first interview you attend are common pitfalls candidates face when preparing for technical interviews.
While some may be able to prepare within a month or two, others take anywhere from 6 months to a year before they are confident enough to interview at a top tech or FAANG company. This will depend entirely on your current level of expertise, experience, and ability to commit to preparation.
You should also bear in mind that it may take multiple attempts before you can ace a technical interview and land an offer from a company of your choice. Always have a choice of companies to work with instead of focusing on one company alone. Prepare to interview with multiple companies to avoid giving up if rejected by one company.
Technical interviews at FAANG and Tier 1 tech companies require dedicated preparation and commitment. Staying motivated is key to ensuring you stay the course to succeed in interviews and land an offer from the company of your choice.
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