Axiom: Any software engineer writing a blog on tech will eventually write a post about interviews. - Yours Truly
You walk into a room with one or two people, who may be taking notes in a notepad or a laptop. The most common starter question is tell me about yourself.
This used to be a question I didn’t know where to start or end. A possible interpretation of this question is to provide a succinct summary of your career.
The opportunity here is to prime the interviewer towards directions which would highlight your best career experiences. What part of your experience would be the most pertinent for this job? Doing this thinking beforehand would be helpful for the latter part of the interview.
As an interviewee, we are in a sales role and the product is our skills, experience and future potential. For engineers, this is not a natural part of our workflow. The best sales, however, is based on truth. Being honest and talking proudly about your best career achievements will aid you in this early phase.
A very common follow up is what your ideal next role would look like? You’ve just given them the path which got you to where you are. It is now time to lay out what you want for the future.
Go in with a win-win mentality: It is a lot more about finding a mutual fit rather than getting through a cross examination.
After this point, the interview can go in a lot of different directions. Companies may dig deeper into your past experience or go through example scenarios to understand your thinking process. Knowing your resume and being able to talk in depth about each part will be important.
Before The Interview
Practice and preparation will undeniably make you better. Even if it’s a friend who is asking you a series of questions, answering them again and again will solidify those responses and you don’t have to think every permutation of interview questions on your feet during the interview.
Despite that, it’s impossible to prepare for every possibility. In those cases, it’s useful to get better at on the spot thinking. I suggest the following three activities to improve on that front.
Meditation: Meditating on the morning of the interview can be great to calm down your nerves and help with fight or flight syndrome during an interview.
Public Speaking: Whether it is in front of a group of friends, or coworkers or a wider audience, public speaking will sharpen your ability to be more poised when the spotlight is on you.
Improv: Improv is a wonderful activity, and it is all about being on the spot and working with stranger in a supportive environment building a scene and creating a story. I have found the spontaneity of Improv to be a great value add when facing an interview panel.
Good luck with your interview process!