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How to prepare for (and ace) the technical interview

Rich Hein | Aug. 28, 2013
As developers and IT pros you need to do all the things everyone else does to prepare for a job interview such as update and focus your resume as well as work on your communication and presentation skills. However, you also have the technical interview to deal with.

Bring in a Portfolio of Your Work
It's always a good idea to bring in a notebook with your work or a portfolio to show interviewers. "Bring in your code; bring in your network design diagrams. It could include proposals you've written or the parts you've contributed. We're looking for writing ability and the ability to communicate technical thoughts and recommendations. In that work product that you bring is also about the tools in your tool bag. We want to know what tools you use and what your mastery of those tools are. What tools do you use to manage your technology and people?" says Endres.

Prepare Yourself Mentally
We all have bad days, but when getting ready for the technical interview, as with most other interviews, you need to mentally focus and put yourself at ease. The day of your interview you need to get yourself in the right mindset. This is different for different people but there are some things that work for many. For example, you could try working on logic problems, listening to classical music simply poring over your notes.

"Mentally preparing yourself is really important. A lot of it is in the mindset you carry into the interview from a preparation standpoint. If you have a morning interview, are you up early enough? Are you creating a quiet reflective environment where you can really start to get your mind going to prepare for what's coming ahead? Go over your notes and terminology, prepare some mental notes. Think about things you want to say in the interview that demonstrates your expertise and ask yourself how will I say that? Think about what questions the interviewer will ask you. Then think about what you'd say to that," says Reed.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions
"If they ask you a technical question, make sure you understand it before diving in and answering. If you don't know the answer, that doesn't mean you're dead in the water," says Tracy Cashman, a technology search consultant with WinterWyman.

There are two things to do. First, you may actually know the answer but you're nervous and you forget. "Be honest about it. Just apologize and say something like, 'I just used that command last week, but if I was on the job here is what I would do to find the answer.' That way you're walking them through the problem and showing them you're resourceful," says Cashman.

Second, says Cashman, if it's something you really don't know, you can say something along these lines, "Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to work with C#; however, I have so much experience in VB.NET that I feel like I can transition easily."


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