There’s nothing more effective in securing a dream engineering job than nailing your technical interview. Interviewers want to see what you know and how you break down problems to reach conclusions. Do you look at every aspect of a problem? Do you recognize variables and possible outcomes? It may even be as simple as your process for solving brain teasers or math problems. If you’re prepared for all situations, you won’t break a sweat!
Here’s our technical interview cheat sheet to help you navigate the sea of engineering job interviews.
Brush up on Your Skills
The technical interview is an “applied knowledge” exercise, so brush up on the fundamentals. This process is designed to see how you apply your basic knowledge, so be sure that your foundation is strong for the engineering job opportunity. If there are more recent skills expected in your profession (a new computer language, tooling software, etc.) make sure you have some knowledge of these to show that you are an evolving professional.
Think out loud
While our experience with many math or logic tests have required silence, this is a scenario where you want to speak up. Thinking out loud will let interviewers see how you approach a problem, break it down, and plan an attack.
Communication and cooperation are key to any engineering team, so asking questions in a technical interview is one of the best ways to show how well you work with others. Do you ask follow-up questions to get more information? You won’t know every answer when you’re out in the field, so asking questions can help you paint a better picture of the issue at hand. It is not a sign of weakness. Remain calm and positive to work through the scenario.
Use tools provided
Whatever tools you are given, it’s in your best interest to use them. Printed scenarios or problems allow you to build a base of questions before you start creating your own. Hidden tools may be in the answers you are given, so be sure to listen carefully. Don’t forget about the job description either – this is one of the biggest tools you’re given. Use the position responsibilities as a guide to reference your own experience doing similar tasks and projects, and make sure you can speak to the skills required for the position.
While there is no telling exactly what problems or scenarios you will be asked, here are some of the most common ones:
– Name 5 ways to retrieve a needle from a haystack.
– Explain the concept of polymorphism in object-oriented development.
– If a system fails and has to be rebooted, what tool can we use to look at monitoring and CPU usage for the past week?
– You have 100 doors in a row that are all initially closed. You make 100 passes by the doors starting with the first door every time. The first time through you visit every door and toggle the door (if the door is closed, you open it, if it’s open, you close it). The second time you only visit every 2nd door (door #2, #4, #6, etc.). The third time, every 3rd door (door #3, #6, #9, etc.), until you only visit the 100th door. Question: what state are the doors in after the last pass? Which are open which are closed?
To close, be enthusiastic and thank your interviewers for their time. Technical interviews are no easy task, but if you prepare mentally for the challenge, interviewing for engineering jobs will be a piece of cake.