Hey! We continue to develop the topic of a meaningful approach to the beginning of our professional path. We talked about basic settings in previous post, and now let’s move on from thinking to actions related to the interview process: how to prepare, how to behave, how to pass a technical interview, and also form a perspective for ourselves, regardless of the outcome.
You have been invited for an interview – what to do?
carefully read the instructions in the invitation – most likely all the necessary information is already there;
confirm that you will participate as soon as possible – this is important for those who coordinate interviews;
choose from the proposed options the most convenient time for you, when you can better concentrate on what is happening – this is important for you;
specify the time zone of those who will be interviewing, and tell yours if it is different;
specify the place or method of video communication; make sure you understand where to find the link you want;
ask who will be interviewing and how you can prepare for it; what language will the communication be in (suddenly in English? – it’s better to know in advance).
If something went wrong on the appointed day, inform the coordinators and agree on a different time. Unexpected events happen, and that’s okay. You will be welcomed if you give advance notice of your changes. If the invitation indicated a telephone number for communication, then it is better to call this number – the letter may not be read in time.
The key is always think about others people. Let any them interaction with you will be as comfortable as possible. People start getting to know you long before the interview: how you write, how you react, how you feel about the invitation, how you show your interest in the internship. And if you do not feel it and therefore cannot focus on the goals of the people in the company, it is better to think about it right away. Perhaps you are in the other direction.
Good preparation affects more than just the first impression you make. Much more, it helps create a special mindset for yourself to answer questions as effectively as possible. Especially if, during the preparation and on the way to the interview, you mentally designate each of your actions as tuning to the right wave. And do not forget to consider the interests of those with whom you will communicate.
What will help your interlocutors to better discern your strengths through natural and healthy excitement?
First, a neat and fresh look, plus the most neutral clothing style. It’s good when nothing in your appearance distracts from the essence of what you speak.
Secondly, your punctuality. It is respect not only for other people’s working time, but also for your own. Time is equally valuable for everyone.
Third, the devil is in the details.
think over the route in advance and set aside time for finding an office, traffic jams, unforeseen delays;
arrive 10-15 minutes before the appointed interview time in order to catch your breath and tune in, and give this opportunity to the meeting party;
turn off your phone when you have already been met – nothing should distract you and interfere with communication.
follow the link 2-3 minutes before the start;
it is better to call from a computer – the interview may include live-coding;
Install or update the application that the company uses for interviews in advance, make sure it works;
check that the app account displays your first and last name and not your nickname (in an ideal world, your email address is also based on your real first and last name);
check Internet payment and network stability;
a camera is required – check that everything is fine with it;
upload your close-up portrait photo to all applications (this helps a lot in communication processes, anyway);
use headphones or a headset, making sure they are charged and working without interference;
make sure you have enough charging; let the mains power be turned on in advance;
have an interview in a quiet room without extraneous noise and, if possible, with a neutral background – this will help you and others better concentrate and hear each other;
keep your smartphone at hand in “silent” mode for emergency reconnection with a pre-installed application, a camera and a microphone (there are situations when the mobile Internet is very helpful).
And the main thing. Come or connect with sleep, in a good mood and with interest in what is happening – it’s really interesting!
Tune in to the desired information context
Read in advance (if not already) or remember what you read earlier:
about the company;
about the project and product;
about the leader and the team.
Refresh your knowledge of the technology requirements. If you submitted a test assignment before the interview, open it and recall what was in it.
Prepare a confident story:
your interest in this internship and company;
about relevant experience, even if it is only from educational or personal projects;
What ideas do you have for the task proposed for the internship (think about this in advance; search for similar projects and look at them);
Prepare counter questions for your interlocutors. For example:
What are the company’s values? Why do you like it here?
How is teamwork organized?
What area of responsibility will the trainee have?
What will be the training and purpose of the internship?
What are the prospects and opportunities for this project?
What is the ideal candidate for this internship?
Think about the life hack with a rehearsal in first episode… And also about the fact that an interview is a unique opportunity to learn real facts about the company from the people who work there. After all, you are studying reality to find the best place for yourself in it. So feel free to show your curiosity and watch people talk about their work. Do their eyes burn?
When everything has already begun
Remember that both you and your interlocutors are worried. They are also interested in making your internship a success.
Focus on the meaning of the question – not yourself or what impression you make. Listen carefully to the questions: they contain the expected answer formula. Only talk about what is asked.
If you are confused, think out loud. Ask counter or follow-up questions.
Admit your mistakes. Ask what decision would be correct or the most optimal in the opinion of the interviewers. Be honest and sincere about what you don’t know.
Before leaving, thank everyone for the interesting communication and say that you will be grateful for the feedback, regardless of the decision made. After two weeks, you can write a letter duplicating this request, if you do not receive an answer.
After receiving feedback, thank you for it and take this information as a door to new opportunities – because it is.
Typically, the interview script includes introducing the participants, discussing your interest in the project, a technical interview and a final part with organizational and your counter questions. The order is subject to change. A different number of people can participate. Let it not scare you, but rather inspire you.
A key part of the interview may include:
Reflection question: how would you implement X?
Technology questions: Google the most popular interview questions on your stack – there are usually no more than a hundred of them.
speak your steps;
Code on a piece of paper / board: try this beforehand at home.
what does this code do?
check for errors;
check edge cases;
performance, code examples.
Home test assignment
When recruiting for internships, test tasks are usually given at the very first stage, and according to their results, candidates are already invited or not invited for interviews. But it also happens that it is offered to be done after the interview (and this is a good sign!) Immediately think about making your test task convenient to watch – ask in what format it is convenient for the examiner to receive your result.
What you should pay attention to when preparing a test:
take it as a real project;
understand what the task is (if necessary, specify);
estimate the time (if no deadline is set) and meet it (max = 2 weeks);
if you are not in time for the deadline, describe what you would like to improve;
be prepared to re-interview the results of the assignment.
Well, and catch check-list for self-test:
documentation (project description, how to start);
intelligible commit message / git rebase;
remove garbage from the repository;
run inspect code and ensure that there are no errors;
test on different platforms / browsers;
clone the repository and open it with clean settings;
UI: ask someone for a constructive outside perspective;
Don’t forget to thank you for an interesting challenge and ask for constructive feedback in your emails, as well as in interviews. And still observe your feelings: were you really interested in doing this? This process is also a source of information.
Using the context, I will say “Thank you!” Ekaterina Smal (Team Lead in Educational Products, JetBrains) for her expertise in the technical interview and test task 🙂
When you were invited for an internship
Exhale, but … it’s actually just the beginning!
Therefore, do not forget to quickly confirm your participation or let us know when you can make this decision. If for some reason you refuse the internship, please report it as soon as possible. This responsible attitude towards others will be a plus for you in karma for the future – what if it will still be useful to you?
From the very first day, make the most of your internship and put in your best efforts towards those who will invest in you:
meet the team;
get to know the culture of the company;
immerse yourself in context;
be actively involved in all processes;
show interest and initiative;
request feedback from the leader / mentor;
learn to manage your time;
If you haven’t qualified for an internship, wrap it up in new opportunities for yourself. Ask for feedback and reflect on your experiences. Learn. Practice on open source projects. Try other internship options. If you lack some experience – get it:
participate in student startups;
create your projects;
implement interesting educational and scientific work.
Having gained a new experience – come back. You can and should try again after refusal! But only by really pumping your skills. For any company, such returns are very valuable, as they confirm your sincere interest, and this will definitely increase your chances.
And do not expect to reach a certain level of knowledge in order to try your hand at internships. If you are really interested in doing something, come and talk about it. So you will definitely have a better chance of getting a great experience, and the project will have a better chance of being realized. And at the same time, the learning process will become more meaningful and purposeful if your knowledge will help you to do something needed others now.