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How to get the tech job of your dreams

What are the best skills to master for your IT interview?

Elina Panayotova
interview
© Shutterstock / tsyhun

Hunting for a job as software developer? Want to stand out from the competition? Elina Panayotova goes over what you need to know for your next interview to make sure you get the tech job of your dreams.

Nowadays, there is a high demand for prestigious and well-paid positions in the fast growing IT field. Thus, getting hired within a respected company is the first step to grow quickly in your career. Indeed, for each position there is a specific set of technical and interpersonal skills required. To be selected for a IT position, it takes more than just being knowledgeable. Due to the high level of competition within the industry, more subjective skills such as communication, problem solving, and analytical thinking are highly respected by recruiters. This article is about the best practical skills to improve your interview performance when applying for a developer position. Of course, there is no such a thing as the right way to do it. There’s tons of advice online that can either help or just stress you during your preparation for an interview. However, after participating in the recruitment processes at a major software company, I have had a great opportunity to analyze what employers appreciate most when searching for the right team members. Here is some advice as to what you should focus on.

Positive self image

A great indicator of confidence on the interview is the good self-presentation. The combination of your speech and body language builds your image and perception of you to the person interviewing you. Moreover, a great self introduction is the best tool to get useful networks in the IT field. In fact, these networks with various programmers and people within the business, could highly increase your chances of getting an interview in the first place.

In order to present yourself as the best candidate possible on an interview for a developer position you have to connect well with the person on the other side. In the IT industry, the process would probably be standardized yet your answers and behaviors should not be. You would be interviewed by a person with thoughts and emotions, not with a machine. So your ability to relate to the interviewer’s personality could double your chances in the first stage, before the tech interview.

In 1995, Daniel Goleman wrote Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. He emphasized that success is not only on your logical thinking but it depends on your social abilities​. Goleman’s theory states that people are not born talents when it comes to EI, but there is a set of skills that could be learned. How? Only by practice, practice, practice. Most probably, your first interview would be terrible, but the 10th would be better.

SEE ALSO: Developers rise against the whiteboard interview

In order to improve your self image at the interview, you need to learn how to use your body language ​and personality traits better. In one of the most inspiring TED Talks about body language on job interviews, Amy Cuddy says “Fake it till you make it”. This means that building confidence is possible for anyone who pushes themselves a little bit further in difficult social situations. So, try to be confident and patient. Being excited is a positive feature that would grab the attention of your interviewer. If you manage to be professional​ yet friendly and genuine​, your chances for a successful job interview are higher. Avoid the interview stress with personal preparation and extensive research on the company.

Mastering how to speak to others is what actually gives you the ability to present yourself at your best. Good communication is a soft skill that is key to your successful interview. The IT field has become quite competitive. Technical skills and experience alone seem to be insufficient when seeking the best opportunity for a developer.

Problem solving

Understanding algorithms and programming languages is the baseline of writing the code. Indeed, to build software it takes more than these technical skills. As a developer you should know how to find the solutions to more complex issues and to bring your expertise to add value to the company’s success.

In order to catch up with the projects and workflow, new developers are going through specific learning processes. A bespoke software development company will teach them the right methods and tools regardless their previous experiences. Therefore, recruiters look for quick learners who can catch up easily with the project workflow. The candidates with proven problem solving skills usually are expected to go the extra mile ​while the learning processes. Thus, they would cost less time, money, and effort to the business in the first months. Later on, they are more likely to suggest innovative solutions that can increase the productivity of company.

Problem solving in software development includes various actions like idea generation, issues generalization through analogical thinking, improving current performance, and more. These actions require the developer to follow well-used methodologies, while finding new patterns to solve problems.

To improve your problem solving skills you need to to read, learn, test and risk as often as possible. Firstly, your code readability and maintainability would become more efficient. Secondly, being more knowledgeable would inspire to think more in dept ​of the problems. Further, due to the abundance of information, you will start doubting what you read and become a critical thinker who creates solutions himself. Thus, mastering the art of thinking out of the box and demonstrating it on your interview would definitely help you to get the job.

SEE ALSO: Linux is the number one in-demand skill: Open source career trends

Technical competence

The desirable technical skills for a developer vary according to the company and the position. However, there are some basic ones that you need to know inside out in order to be on the same level with the other candidates.

For example, algorithms are the base of the programming. They are in the structure of coding that allow the developer to adapt the concept of the project. Becoming an expert in algorithms is essential when applying for a software development position. Further, professional experience and strong knowledge of C# ​or Java has become a must for positions in the field where they are the main languages used. Mastering a programming language is the first step to your successful tech interview. Indeed, be prepared to show good knowledge of the languages used within the company that you are applying for.

Besides knowing the right programming languages, it is very important for you to show your ability to work with wide range of tools and platforms at the interview​. Of course, which exactly are the right tools for you depends on the specific position you want. Anyhow, there are going to be many, so you need to be comfortable in showing your proficiency. Indeed, it improves your chances when you can prove your ability to utilize innovative technologies. Most recruiters would like to hire full-stack developers who are flexible and good at multitasking with the latest tools.

SEE ALSO: Transitioning into a tech career? Go to meetups and participate in hackathons

Other technical skills that are highly respected in the industry аrе data analysis, forecasting, and automation. These abilities are growing as necessary qualifications in recent years as they support the product progress in shorter time. To optimize the use of databases, the developer should be familiar with machine learning frameworks. The fast growth in the industry demands the quick analysis of the software maintenance and adaptation. Thus, the preferable candidates, are programmers who can easily automate the software release and deployment​. To improve these skills you need to work hard on projects where your decisions have impact on the performance. Consequently, losing time to deal your own mistakes would teach you to analyze your data results and learn how to be more effective next time.

IT recruiters are seeking for bright minds that know the basic fundamentals and are competent to provide methods for problem solutions, regardless your academic and professional experience. However, the interviewer would ask you about your previous work to investigate your motivation ​and interest in the nature of the position. The most common questions would be about what is your ideal work environment or how have you handled difficult situations at work before. Besides, the recruiter might ask you some brain teaser questions to test your way of thinking. This serves as an indicator of your ability to analyze situations and make decisions on the spot. Your interview is more likely to succeed if you can stand out with a motivation to learn quickly and analytical thinking that would help you to work effectively with complex systems.

In conclusion

Lastly, keep in mind that displaying your abilities is what matters at an interview rather than just having them on paper. I highly recommend considering how to prove yourself through your soft and hard skills! Emphasize your theoretical knowledge or previous job responsibilities.

Let me know what are your opinions on the topic! Comment below for any further discussions!

Author

Elina Panayotova

Elina Panayotova is an Assistant Marketing Manager at Dreamix Ltd, a software developmentcompany, where Elina processes marketing campaigns from start to finish, including various client’s engagement strategies. She has extensive knowledge in consumer psychology, content blog writing and social media content. At Dreamix, Elina helps effectively with developing business models, whilst creating and improving marketing and sales strategies. Find her on LinkedIn.


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