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How to Prepare for an Interview

Do you have an upcoming interview that’s just around the corner? Are you wondering how best to prepare for your next big interview?

Well, giving interviews, especially at big companies, can be intimidating and stressful. This is particularly true in the case of technical interviews - most big tech firms including FAANG companies are known to conduct stringent technical interviews that test candidates’ core knowledge in data structures, systems design and algorithms.

In this article, we’ll answer the question - “how to prepare for an interview” in the best possible fashion. We’ll look at multiple aspects that are known to drive successful interview preparation, while also giving you tips to crack tough technical interviews at FAANG companies.

Types of Technical Interviews

Before you go about preparing for a technical interview, knowing the types of interview rounds that exist is important. Technical interviews fundamentally consist of two technical rounds and a behavioral round. Let’s look at what these rounds are about, and what you can expect.

Phone Screen Interview: The technical phone screen essentially involves writing and executing code via a shared screen with the recruiter. You’ll be asked to solve a coding problem in the programming language of your choice. Based on your performance in the phone screen, you’ll be called for the technical on-site.

Technical on-site: The technical on-site essentially comprises multiple rounds of interviews with hiring managers. Questions on data structures, algorithms and systems design are asked, following which candidates go through a mandatory behavioral interview.

Your performance in various onsite rounds is evaluated, and a hiring decision is consequently made.

Prepare for your next interview like a boss

To be thoroughly prepared is to have already won half the battle. Many a time, despite extensive preparation, even experienced engineers fail to land offers at their dream companies (mostly FAANG companies - Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google). This is why it makes sense to sign-up for an interview prep course or rope-in professionals to help you sail smoothly and dock at the shore.

While preparing for an interview, you might not be fully aware of inherent flaws in your approach, or what you might do wrong on the day of the interview. But what’s completely in your hands is how thoroughly you’re prepared.

Let’s move ahead and look at the best ways to prepare for an interview. By following these tips, you can be sure of giving yourself the best possible chance to nail your next big interview.

Examine the job role and job description

The first step is to know what role you’re applying to, and understand what responsibilities the role entails.

The best way to do this is to extensively go through the job description and figure out what exactly is needed of you/your role.

A lot of the time, candidates ignore reading job descriptions completely, and render themselves unprepared for specific questions pertaining to the description.

To avoid being caught off guard, make sure you read the description completely, and prepare yourself to answer questions around specific areas mentioned in the description.

Do your research on the company and its culture

Doing diligent research on the company you’re applying to puts you in a great position to answer questions with more depth and clarity. In fact, this is the first thing you must be doing while getting started with preparing for an interview.
Knowing what recent products or services have been commissioned can also enable you to answer specific questions asked by hiring managers about a particular product/service offered by the company.

It also helps you stay a few steps ahead of other candidates, as recruiters often appreciate candidates who’ve done their homework.  

Doing your research on the company culture is another important point to keep in mind. Bringing-in core company values and cultural inclinations in your answers can do you a world of good in making the perfect impression with hiring managers.

More so, the big companies pride themselves not just on their monetary and market exploits but also on their cultural values.

Prepare answers to commonly asked questions in advance

Having carefully stitched answers to commonly asked interview questions can be largely beneficial to your efforts. Common questions that you can expect to be asked include:
1. What are your greatest strengths?

A. To answer this question, you can talk about strengths that have helped you perform in past organizations. Strengths including string work ethic values, adhering to deadlines even if it means pushing yourself a little more, and helping coworkers through difficult situations are valued to a great extent.
2. What are your weaknesses?

A. The idea behind asking this question in interviews is to understand the manner in which candidates approach and answer this question.
While it may seem detrimental to highlight your weaknesses, the purpose here is to point out specific weaknesses that have helped you grow and develop as an individual. Talking about weaknesses such as:
a. I tend to cling onto a project although it has run its course
b. I find it difficult to work with an unresponsive colleague
c. I find it tough to maintain a healthy work-life balance when deadlines are around the corner
d. I sometimes lose confidence and motivation when things go the other way.

3. Why do you want to join this company?

A. Recruiters ask this question to understand what you’ve understood of the company and its product/service. To answer this question, do some research on the company’s culture and recent achievements/milestones as contributing factors to making the decision.

4. What are your thoughts about having a good work-life balance?
A. Having a healthy work-life balance is important to give your best at work and live a fulfilling personal life. To answer this question, you can talk about activities that interest you and how you maintain a healthy work-life balance - through activities involving sport, adventure and leisure.

5. What do you do if you don’t get along with a colleague at work?
A. It is only natural sometimes to be displeased or irked with the way a fellow coworker conducts himself/herself. It is important, however, to settle differences for the larger good of the project, the team, and the organization.
To answer this question, talk about how you believe dialogue as an effective conduit to settle differences and find common ground. Getting along with coworkers and settling disputes in a constructive way is an important skill that works not just to your benefit, but to that of your peers as well.

FAANG companies have a mandatory behavioral round that candidates go through. Behavioral rounds typically consist of questions that seek to test your responses and conduct in workplace-related situations. As such, answering these questions, although it may seem simple, isn’t particularly straightforward.

If you wish to answer behavioral questions effectively and maximize your chances of success, you must practice them.
Check out these 9 behavioral questions commonly asked at the biggest companies.

Make sure to do your research on how to answer these questions in the best possible way. Remember, you get only one chance to strike a great impression. Don’t squander it.

Prepare pensive questions for hiring managers

Did you know that asking the right questions is just as important as answering questions in the right way?

Hiring managers often like to take questions from candidates, and entertain thoughtful questions pertaining to the job role, company’s culture, and other related areas.

Questions like -
Why do you like to work here?
What does a typical day look like for me?
What is the company’s policy on vacations? and
What qualities do you expect from a person in my shoes?
can kindle warmth, enthusiasm, and reciprocative answers from recruiters.

Be mindful of what questions you ask though - you shouldn’t randomly ask an unrelated question just because you need to.  Mindfulness at every step of the interview is key to locking an offer.

Practice Mock Interviews

Mock interviews are a brilliant way to bring your shortcomings to the fore and correct them. As such, in order to crack tough technical interviews at the biggest companies, you typically have to practice mock interviews with professionals. If not, it becomes difficult to determine what you did wrong or where the faults existed, in the wake of failure/rejection.

There are many reputable mock interview courses that help you steer your preparation in the right direction.

While you consider mock interviews, make you rope-in the right service. There are many players who only give handwavy feedback, and it doesn’t cut it at all, especially while prepping for FAANG interviews.

Adopt a professional tone

Many experienced programmers applying to FAANG companies lose out because of falling short in behavioral interviews. The reasons could seem inconspicuous, but rejection happens nonetheless. Mock interviews can be greatly beneficial in this regard - practicing mock interviews with experts will help you make the right changes in your approach, tone, and body language, eliminating subtle causes for rejection.  

Attend Interview Prep webinars

An excellent way to stay several steps ahead of your competition while you prepare for an interview, is to frequently attend interview prep webinars and absorb valuable points from experts. There are many professional bootcamps that organize webinars. If you haven’t signed up for a technical interview webinar today, sign-up now.

Best practices to keep in mind

Here are some best practices to keep in mind while preparing yourself for an interview:

Dress appropriately: Your dressing sense and general attire send out a strong impression to recruiters. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately for your interview.

Adopt a professional tone: Your tone is an important thing to be mindful about. The manner in which you answer questions in your behavioral interview is examined keenly, and often influences the outcome of your interview.

Don’t be late to the venue: Being late, for whatever reason, can send out a bad impression. Make it a point to leave early and reach the venue on time.

Be confident with your answers: Make sure to be warm, confident and honest with your replies. Don’t beat around the bush and hesitate to answer tough questions. Being honest with your replies can do you a world of good.

Make sure to send a thank you and follow-up email: An important thing that a lot of candidates ignore, is sending out a thank you+follow up email (about a week post the interview). These are important things to keep in mind as they go a long way in making the right impression.

Want to supercharge your technical interview prep? Click here.

Last updated on: 
October 27, 2023

Dipen Dadhaniya

Engineering Manager at Interview Kickstart

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