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Beyond the Technical Interview – How Should I Prepare?

If you are a technology professional embarking on a new job search, it is natural that you will want to update your resume, refresh your memory pertaining to the details of your past work, and prepare for anticipated technical interviews. More often than not, job seekers focus on the technical interview portion of the process and don’t prepare adequately for the non-technical portion of the interview.

The top companies in the world use a combination of traditional open-ended and behavioral interview questions.  The classic question – “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” is an example of a traditional open-ended question.  “Tell me about a time you failed” is an example of a common behavioral question.

You will be well-equipped for most interviews if you practice and prepare for the traditional and behavioral-based interview.  There are countless lists of questions to be found with a simple search on the internet, but here we explore five that will help you impress the interviewer with your well thought-out answers.

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1. What do you do to stay current with new technologies and trends?

The technology landscape is ever-changing, which requires the most talented professionals to invest personal time to stay knowledgeable and relevant. There are many ways to do this; attending conferences and user group meetings, joining tech forums, subscribing to industry publications, following thought leaders on social media, listening to podcasts, reading technology blogs, taking on side projects, and the list goes on. Be prepared to talk about what new skills you are focused on learning and why, and speak to how it has helped you in past roles. This is also the perfect moment to ask about professional development opportunities the company might offer.

2. Tell me about a time when a project or plan didn’t work out the way you anticipated.

Failure isn’t something we enjoy talking about, but the way you have handled challenging situations in the past is a great indicator of how you will face adversity in the future. Plan to answer this question in a way that allows you to discuss the thought process you followed on a previous project that didn’t have an intended outcome. Talk about where things went wrong, what problems you had to solve along the way, and most importantly, how you handled them and what you learned from it. Employers are looking for candidates who have a demonstrated ability to solve problems, who learn from past experiences, and who display humility in the workplace, particularly where collaboration is key to the company culture.

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3. How would you explain [insert technology] to a business executive or non-technical user?

It may sound trivial, but effective communication skills are key if you want to be viewed as an expert in your industry. The inability to explain a technical problem to your boss or co-worker or a technical solution to your client may damage relationships and result in loss of revenue or profits.  As you respond to this question, cite a few specific examples from your past roles, and be sure to avoid industry jargon and acronyms. If your interviewer asks you follow-up questions with the intent of having you elaborate or provide clarity, maintain patience while showcasing your ability to break things down until it is satisfactorily understood.

4. When given a new project, what standard processes and industry best practices do you follow to ensure it is completed successfully?

This is an excellent opportunity for you to showcase the methodologies and approach you and your fellow team members have followed to deliver value to your customers efficiently and with fewer headaches. For organizations who employ teams of people, they want to feel confident that you can not only solve problems and build eloquent solutions, but that you believe in the importance of adhering to best practices, and that you are willing to adapt to their established processes and procedures.

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5. What do you think makes a [Insert Technical Position] Successful?

Successful technology professionals possess varied skills (both technical and non-technical), experiences, and abilities. Your response to this question provides you with the opportunity to highlight what makes you the most likely candidate to not only succeed but exceed their expectations. A great way to prepare for this question is to review the contents of past performance reviews, and to assemble a list of accolades and awards you have received. Net net, provide a thoughtful answer on what makes someone in this position successful, but more importantly, showcase your impressive achievements in such a way that the hiring manager concludes that you are THE best candidate for the job.

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Working with a reputable staffing firm can save you time by learning about your background and what you are looking for in your next role, while presenting you with multiple suitable opportunities. Because they are very motivated to place you in a new position, it is in their best interest to prepare you for the hiring company’s interview process, and help you every step along the way.

Are you seeking a new opportunity? Check out our current job openings here: https://careers-soltech.icims.com/jobs/search.