How Should I Prepare for a Job Interview as a Programmer?

Computer programming is a highly competitive field and interviewing for positions can be a daunting process. A common saying is the best offense is a good defense, and in job interviews this translates to the preparation that builds self-confidence. There are many ways to prepare for an interview in programming, but the most important thing to remember is that you must begin early in the process like a runner preparing for a marathon. Here are five ways to prepare for a programming interview.

Study Every Day

You will be asked to code. According to Glassdoor, applicants should feel comfortable with data structures, algorithms and other coding tools. Even a person who knows the information can draw blanks under the pressure of an interview that might take 60 minutes. There are websites that offer practice questions and refresher courses, though many of these charge for the service. Another Glassdoor tip is the book “Cracking the Coding Interview” by Gayle Laakmaan McDowell. Applicants should set aside time to prepare and include these types of questions as well as research on the job requirements. Interviews will typically include questions about why you are leaving your current job ( if you are already employed), why you think you would be a good fit for the new position and what kind of salary you require as well as technical questions and problems. The salary question is tricky. Although applicants should go into the interview knowing how much they need to earn, it is best to wait until the interviewer brings it up. Forbes even suggests doing mock interviews with your peers or family members.

Know Your Stuff

Speak the right language. Studying and reviewing daily will not teach a concept that should have been learned in school. Some companies will hire an applicant who is not well-versed in a specific coding language but won’t ignore the fact that a candidate is not fluent in any of the most well-known like Java, C# and Python. Research on the company should let an applicant know which coding language it uses. Additionally, if considering a response to any coding area brings on a case of nerves, that area might be a weakness that needs attention. Most applications require a pre-interview phone call. Applicants who know their profession and understand how they will fit into the position they are applying for will be able to navigate the phone interview as well.

Know the Company and the Interviewers

Google-search the company. Include the website, any blogs, customer reviews and other information. The goal is to understand the company culture and its vision. If the names of likely interviewers are listed research as well. Don’t neglect their LinkedIn pages or their social media presence.

While this may seem like stalking, it serves the purpose of helping applicants decide how well they would fit into the company and identify points of mutual interest with the interviewers. Additionally, understanding the applicant will assist the interviewer to decide how well he or she could be incorporated into the position. Applicants with network contacts should explore any connections they have to the company or its employees as well. As in any application interview, recommendations help.

Bring the Right Documents

Bring several copies of your CV, references, writing samples and project portfolios. Applicants may face only a couple of interviewers or a panel, and they should be prepared with enough material that no one has to share. A curriculum vitae is a vital reference. Applicants can bring resumes as well, but the people interviewing should be able to access complete information about education, employment histories, abilities and successfully-completed projects.

Updating the CV is vital. Smashing Magazine says it is important to mention skills and abilities but equally important not to exaggerate or lie. Avoid buzzwords or trite expressions and make certain grammar and spelling are flawless.

Interviewers should be able to access online portfolios, applicant blogs and LinkedIn pages as well. Uploading the CV to the applicant’s LinkedIn page is an important link in promoting the abilities and value of a professional.

Be Present Physically

Let your body speak for you. Applicants who arrive late, yawn during an interview or who seem distracted or unfriendly are at a disadvantage. This article began using the metaphor of a marathon runner, and that image fits in well at this point, too. Since applicants begin preparing mentally for an interview in advance, they can also prepare physically. This includes good dietary habits and getting enough rest and exercise.

Having researched the corporation doing the hiring, applicants will know the office dress code. That code should be followed in the interview. Glassdoor also emphasizes that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. That includes making good eye contact, having a firm handshake and smiling because besides impressing the interviewers, software engineers and other employees might be expected to work with customers and board members.

Body language is important. During the interview, applicants should maintain good posture, avoid distracting habits like pen-tapping, moderate their voices and be present with the interviewers. That means noting their body language as well. If they appear to be getting bored with a lengthy response to a question, for instance, it is time to move on.

There are other things to remember, but over-preparation can be damaging to an interview too. Remember that the point of preparation is bringing yourself to a place where you are confident and comfortable. Of course, job interviews will always involve some level of anxiety, but if the applicant is sure of his skills, knows something about the company and why he wants to work there and feels physically and mentally prepared, he or she will make a successful impression in an interview for a job as a computer programmer.

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