After switching from interviewee to an interviewer I understood how weak I performed on my interviews as an interviewee. In this article, I will try to explain what is the most important to make a good impression during an interview.
If you don’t know then just say it
So you get a question and have no idea what an answer is. You start thinking about it. It takes a while but you are sure after all you find an answer. Don’t do it. Just say that you don’t know. It’s much better because:
– there is a big chance you won’t find an answer after all so you will just waste interviewer’s time
– if you need time to answer it is info for an interviewer that you have problems with an answer and finding this answer after a while won’t change it.
– you prove you are not afraid of saying I don’t know
– you won’t waste interviewer’s time
– your interviewer has probably bigger knowledge than you. If a question is not an easy one then you have the right to just not know an answer.
There is always a good answer
Some questions pretend to be really hard to answer right. I received a lot of them as a candidate. One of my favourites is “do you like to work under time pressure?”. Who likes it? No one. Should I say just no? Should I say yes? Who will believe me if I say yes? So, in one of my interviews when I had got this question I just asked my interviewer “and do you like it?” and he had a perfect answer to it in my opinion. He said that he liked to work under pressure but just small because then he was very effective and work was not stressful yet. Perfect answer because it seems really honest and intelligent. These kinds of answers you have to look for you.
If you don’t know ask for help
You want to be a developer in this company and it means you would need help from other developers from time to time. Trying to get some direction and starting some interaction with your interviewer is a quite good option in my opinion. It usually increases your chances for a proper answer much more than thinking longer without any hint.
Don’t lie on interview
It’s a big difference when you lie in your CV and in an interview. In face to face, there is a big chance that recruiter will feel it. He doesn’t need a proof. His feeling is all he needs to be sure you are not a perfect candidate. How often do you feel that somebody lies to you? Do you really think other people are much worse in finding it out than you?
Good excuses when you don’t know the answer
You can say:
– I don’t know – good especially when a question is difficult or it’s not an open question
– I cannot recall an answer right now – good if a question is about something which is not used on daily basis or it’s really theoretical question
– It was a long time since I used it for the last time – nice answer for things which are not used very often. Very bad answer for other things.
– I think it’s something similar to… – you just mention something else e.g. other tool used for the same thing so basically, you don’t give an answer but you show your knowledge on a similar subject
– Can you give me some hint – good when you are quite sure that hint might help. If you don’t answer even after a hint, it’s probably worse than saying I don’t know
Questions when you have to list something
If an interviewer asks you to list HTML semantic elements you can list 13 or 20 of them but you cannot list 5 as there is more than 50 of them. Listing 5 of them is like saying I don’t know.
Don’t disregard non-technical part
Usually, there is some non-technical part of an interview led by recruiter or manager. It’s very important to make a good impression because if you don’t it might hurt you even if you’re a good developer and technical part goes smoothly. Most often they want to check if you are a good fit for their office. The most popular questions are why you are leaving your present company or what you expect from the new one. Being honest is very important but if your company was a really bad place you cannot complain too much. No one likes it.
Ask a lot of questions about a company
If you ask good questions about a company it would mean you are really interested in this job and you are an experienced developer. The best are questions where answering won’t put a company in a bad position. E.g. asking about time pressure when your company is a software house isn’t smart.
Be on time but don’t come 15 minutes earlier
Usually, people are busy at work. There might be no one to take care of you. It will be uncomfortable for both sides. I think the best is to be just on time or something like 5 minutes late.