software engineer interview tips

Five things you need to do to nail that interview

Whether you secure the position or not at your next interview can be out of your hands: there may be more suitably qualified candidates; the next guy/girl in the interview room may be the CEO’s cousin; your candidacy may fall prey to some other unknowable.

All you can do, as your mother probably told you countless times as a child before a school exam, is your best. You can control your level of performance, and this may be enough to secure your ideal role. And really, there are only 5 things you need to do for a high quality interview performance.

1. Manage your approach

An interview is fundamentally a discussion, and to approach this discussion from a position of informed curiosity is a powerful thing; you know what this company is all about on paper (and the jobs your interviewers perform), however you want to learn from the people on the other side of the table how they see the company and its mission, and to discover what their vision is for the role you are interviewing for.

2. Strike the right tone

More than anything, you need to come across as a positive, likeable, upbeat person with an optimistic disposition. It should be an easy thing to do, however even the most seasoned professional can fall into the trap of complaining about their current/previous company, a difficult boss, an unmet expectation etc.

Speak positively about all of your previous employers, and avoid any complaining as this will make you look like a negative person. Also, no-one actually cares whether your old boss behaved badly towards you, or whether you never got your fair share in terms of salary/bonus/promotions. When you complain, you paint yourself in the role of victim, and who wants to hire a victim? Also, if the old company was so bad, why did you stay there so long taking a pay cheque?

3. Highlight your achievements

You need to outline in the first 2-3 minutes how your key accomplishments make you a great fit for the role. Clearly, succinctly and honestly you must explain how you were successful, what skills you developed and how you grew as a person through this experience.

And it needs to be tangible: quantifiable results, like how you grew sales by 20%, or cut costs by €10,000 et cetera. Don’t take all the credit for team achievements, and be generous in awarding praise to colleagues and managers. At the same time, show you are confident of the impact you made as a professional, and don’t downplay it when you did something well.

4. Show your personality

Who you are as an individual should shine through, along with your professional traits. Questions around your hobbies and interests give you an opportunity to show flashes of personality, and these can often help your interviewers discern whether you are a match for their business.

One of our clients at Zartis.com loves to see candidates who run marathons, do triathalons et cetera, as they believe these types of individuals have the pschological strength to work at thier company. Another likes to see candidates come through our platform with a keen interest in travel and new cultures, as this reflects their business.

5. Empathise

The final piece of advice we can give you is to try and empathise with your interviewers. The night before your interview, sit with a pen and some paper and imagine that you are the hiring manager or HR person on the other side of the table.

Sketch down the qualities you would like to see in a candidate for this role, and then figure out how you can communicate your match to these qualities. And remember, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get the job; all you can do is your best.

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