5 Tips To Ace Your Next Technical Interview

In this article I’m going to provide 5 ‘not-so-well-known’ tips on how you can ace your next technical interview while avoiding some common pitfalls.

Technical interviews, and interviews in general can be extremely nerve-racking. With so much advice our there on how to navigate them, it makes things even more overwhelming.

I’m a software developer with 8 years of experience and last year started a recruiting agency that specializes in recruiting software devs for companies who are struggling to find, hire and onboard exceptional technical talent without wasting company’s engineering hours on irrelevant candidates.

Over the years, I have interviewed over 500+ frontend, full stack, java devs, and SDETs both as a software engineer and a technical recruiter.

There are 5 things I noticed between an impressive interview experience and ‘so-so’ interview experience.

I’ll dive into each of these points, sharing examples and insights from real interviews so you can ace your next technical interview with these 5 tips.

Summary of Key Points:

  1. Admit when unsure,
  2. Show your personality,
  3. Clarify before answering,
  4. Demonstrate your thought process,
  5. Asking meaningful questions about the team/company

Tip #1: Admit When Unsure

I have seen so many candidates both as a software dev and recruiter who would rather provide a wrong answer than to admit that they don’t know have the answer.

They rather dig a deeper hole than saying like it is. What is worse, is that if the interviewer chooses to call you out on your wrong or ‘bs’ answer, it only goes down hill from there. If you don’t know the answer to the question, admit it. Own up to it. There is nothing to gain if you choose to pretend to know the answer. When you admit that you don’t know, you reveal to the interviewer that you are:

  • Self-aware,
  • Humble,
  • Honest

Next time you are asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, say it like it is. Choose to be transparent over ‘know-it-all’.

Tip #2: Be Human. Loosen Up

At the end of the day, even though being a software engineer is a very technical job, we are still humans and are being interviewed by other humans.

This applies to the devs who are interviewing you as well (Duh!). They are evaluating not only your technical know-how, but are also looking at you as a potential teammate. And if your answers are robotic and monotone, even if your answers are correct, engineers are less optimistic about being teammates with you.

Perfect example from my experience when we were interviewing for someone mid-to senior-level join our team.

  • Candidate #1: Was a really good in technical terms, but just didn’t connect with the rest of the team, no matter how hard we tried starting small chats.
  • Candidate #2: Was slightly above junior level, but had a great personality and engaged in our conversations throughout the interviews.

We ended-up hiring the 2nd candidate.

This was the feedback from the senior developer after interviewing both of them:

“1st candidate didn’t seem like they could be a good teammate. I felt like the 2nd candidate had a better attitude and would mesh right away to our culture.”

Show more of your ‘Human’ side.

Tip #3: Don’t Rush To Answer The Question If Unclear

So many candidates rush to answer the question only to show that they did not fully understand the question in the 1st place.

It’s totally understandable. I get it. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself in the same exact situation. We all tend to tense-up and get anxious during interviews. But if you take the time to clarify the question 1st, not only are you consciously choosing to calm yourself down, you also reveal to the interviewer(s):

  • Ability to think through the problem 1st,
  • Your communication skills,
  • Attention to details,
  • Composure

Just remember this, if you are not 100% sure about the question, ask 1-2 follow-up questions before jumping to answer the question. Even if you do understand the question, consider repeating the question back to the interviewer in your own words to make sure you really understood the ask.

Trust me, interviewers love clarifying questions from candidates. (I certainly do)

Tip #4: Think Out Loud

Over the years as a software dev, I saw one very clear distinction between great software devs and OK software devs. It’s the ability to express your thought process out loud while navigating a problem.

Whether it was writing a small unit test or building-out a brand new feature, or going through a code review, most of the smart and talented software engineers I worked with, thought out-loud. And interestingly, I’ve been observing the same pattern as an interviewer. Really good software dev candidates are talking out loud while trying to answer or understand the question.

Now, if you are someone on the other spectrum (like I was), good news is that it’s an easy and quick habit to fix. Start with a simple problem. Try practicing talking out-loud when trying to solve problem on your own, and gradually increase the difficulty of the problem. It’s like a muscle that needs a bit getting used to it.

Here are the benefits of talking out loud during the interviews:

  • It shows your communication skills,
  • Helps you self-correct yourself as you are talking,
  • See your gaps in understanding that you would have otherwise missed,
  • And you are implicitly welcoming the listener (in this case interviewer) to collaboratively solve the given problem.

When pair programming or trying to provide a technical explanation verbally, think out loud. The interviewers are not looking for the perfect answer. They are looking for your thought process.

It’s better to have the correct thought process and arrive to a partially correct answer than to have fully correct answer but without showing how you got there.

Tip #5: Ask Genuine Questions

This one is simple. Yet so many candidates overlook this.

We all heard this advice one too many times. But here is the thing, most candidates ask the same exact questions. Generic, surface-level, and boring.

  • “When can I expect to hear back from the team?”
  • “What’s your feedback on the interview?”
  • “How many interview rounds are there?”

No problem in asking these, but everyone else asks them too. And when you ask the same kind of questions everyone else is asking, how are you supposed to stand-out from the other applicants? It takes less than 15 mins to do a simple Google search about the company, its product, and then to connect the dots with the role you are interviewing for.

Ask more genuine questions about the company, team chemistry, current challenges, and what is expected of you as a newly hired resource on your

  • 1st month of hire,
  • 3 month into the role,
  • 6 months into the role

I can assure you if you take the time to even come-up with just 3 genuine questions, you will be a country mile ahead from all the other candidates.

TL;DR & Takeaways

To sum up, succeeding in technical interviews is about more than just technical know-how; it’s about being authentic, thoughtful, and engaged.

Remember these 5 tips to ace your next technical interview:

  • Admit when unsure
  • Show your human side.
  • Ask clarifying questions.
  • Think out loud in your problem-solving process.
  • Ask unique, insightful questions about the team and company to stand out.

Keep these in mind for your next interview to not just answer questions, but to truly engage with your potential future team.

These tips, grounded in real interview experiences, will help you to not just answer questions but also to present yourself as a well-rounded candidate.


Check-out some of our other blogs:

  1. Why Recruiters ghost engineering candidates
  2. Why Software Devs should recruit other software devs instead

We, at BlueBridge, are a recruiting/staffing agency that specializes in recruiting software devs only.

What makes us different from 100s of other agencies claiming the same?

We are founded by software engineers with combined of 15 years of experience, who got so tired of dealing with terrible and incompetent in-house recruiters and staffing agencies, who almost always provided our engineering teams candidates with either irrelevant experience or completely fabricated resumes.

So we took the matters into our own hands and started our own to provide better engineering candidates while saving time, money and headaches for orgs who care about having great engineering teams.

Who can recruit software devs better than other software devs?

Check-out or website!

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