Top Ten Interview Tips for Software Engineers

I’ve had the pleasure of recruiting software developers for over 20 years now in New Zealand, Singapore, San Francisco, and the UK where on average I’ve received over 100 applications per job listing.

I would like to share some tips for hopeful developers who are either trying to find their first role or looking to change roles.

1. Prepare

Research the company before going for an interview. If you know who’s interviewing you then Google them and see what they’re about. This can help give you an idea of the types of questions you will get in the interview.

There’s no excuse for not even having a basic idea of what the company’s core business is.

2. Acronyms != Interesting Resume

There are no prizes for the most acronyms on your CV.

As a rule, only list those that you are able to discuss in detail for two minutes or more.

3. Relevance

Customise your resume for the specific role you are applying for. Yes it takes time

If the role is for a company using Ruby on Rails, then a full page dedicated to a project where you used COBOL back in the 80s is not going to win you any points.

4. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)

Keep your resume to four pages or less. Write it so that all the important information can be viewed in 10 seconds or less.

Bullet points are always a great way of conveying concise information.

I usually read resumes on my iPhone whilst on the daily commute so less is best.

5. Be Honest

Don’t exaggerate your years of experience. The fact you did a one-month internship in your final year at University does not equate to one year’s work experience.

6. Read the Ad

Read the job ad carefully and follow any instructions. If the ad says “Please apply via our Job Portal” then actually apply via their job portal and not via the website the ad is on.

Attention to detail and the ability to follow instructions are paramount to the success of a developer.

7. Not too Early, Not too Late

There is a fine line between arriving too early and arriving too late, for me that line is 15 minutes on either side of the interview time.

If you’re more than 15 minutes late and don’t call to let me know you’ll be late then you shouldn’t bother coming in at all.

8. Communication

Communication is key to the success of any development team and it’s important to demonstrate this in the interview.

Listen to the questions and take the time to formulate answers before speaking, avoid monosyllabic answers but also be careful not to hijack the interview. An interview is not the time for you to rant incessantly about the latest “X” technology.

9. Ask Questions

Asking questions shows that you are inquisitive mind and able to communicate effectively, again both skills that are important for an aspiring Developer.

10. Keep your Web Presence Clean

The first thing I do and many recruiters/hiring managers do is type the name of a candidate into Google and see what results it brings up.

No presence at all can show that you’re not engaged with the community. On the flip side those photos of you wasted at the weekend do nothing to help your cause.

My usual process is to search Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>