Here are some additional items to review before you go on your next Technical Interview. Understanding these basics will help you appear like a true professional and feel confident about your performance.
Know your USP
How do you stand out from other developers? Do you have a special skill other DBAs don’t? If we think all technical professionals are the same you are wrong. We each need to understand our Unique Selling Proposition or USP so we can position ourselves and stand out.
Jason is a friend of mine that I used to work with as a developer. He has far and away the best customer service skills of any developer I have ever met. Okay, you are thinking, “who cares about customer service skills for a developer?” Once again this is an overlooked skill in technology and part of the reason we have all these stereotypes like Nick Burns from SNL.
Think about the experience you have and how it might be different than other people you have worked with. I worked with Linda to help her find a job. She had been a developer for awhile but, also had a good understanding of the insurance industry. This knowledge helped her set her apart from some of the other candidates that were trying to get a job.
Research the company
We need to do our homework about the company and understand what they do. In Dan Miller’s New York Times Best Seller, 48 Days to the Work You Love, he shares, “Knowledge of the company or organization, its products and services, its standing in the community, and the key individuals involved is essential.” He also reminds us to review any annual reports as well as information in business periodicals.
A big bonus I have found is if you can talk with an employee or someone who has worked at the company before. They can help you gain another perspective on what is going on inside the organization. Jane was interviewing with a company for high-level position when she spoke to an old colleague that worked there. This person shared with Jane some major red flags about the company’s leadership and culture. It was not a good fit for Jane so she knew enough to pass on it.
How do they interview
You don’t want to be surprised when you get into the interview process. Try to ask questions up front on how their process works. Your initial contact should be able to help you with this or steer you in the right direction. Many times I have worked with a Human Resources contact and they can give you an overview. It may start with a phone screen and then possibly some on-site interviews.
I have interviewed many people over the years. From interns to full-time positions and I have been amazed at what people will show up in. Just to be clear it is always better to overdress for the situation than to under dress. This is something that can be cleared up quickly with a phone call or email. There is a wide range of dress codes out there. Some are still quite formal where others have shorts and flip-flops everyday.
You can say “I don’t know”
A rookie mistake is to think you need to have an answer to every question. Some interviewers will try to push you into saying something or making up an answer. Just remember we know you can’t know everything so don’t feel bad in admitting it. Honesty and candor can be helpful especially when you have been interviewing a lot of people and are getting the same answers all day.
Have a good list of questions
If you have done your research and know the company and the position you should have a well thought out list of questions. This is a basic part of preparation like knowing when to be there and where to be. I try to tailor questions for the people that will be interviewing me. How technical are they? If they are not technical ask them questions about the company and culture. If they are technical you can ask them about the technologies they use and how they choose them.
What steps do you take to prepare for a technical inteview?