typical interview questions and answer templates for IT engineers
AT last article of our IT career series we discussed interviews in large companies. In them (and in some startups) you will definitely be tested for soft skills. Let’s analyze what they usually mean, look at typical questions and use examples to show how to correctly pass soft skills testing so as not to lose your dream job.
What soft skills are expected from you in companies
Soft skill is a very vague concept. In general terms, these are skills that are not directly related to your profession, but help you work more efficiently and communicate with colleagues. Mainly:
Ability to communicate with other people.
Problem solving skills, not just tasks.
Focus on results.
Understanding your role and responsibilities in the company.
It also looks at personality traits. For example, you can be proactive but not prioritize. Then the company decides what is more important to them, and on the basis of this they choose an employee. But sometimes there are difficulties, because in job descriptions, even in our bot getmatch, soft skills are rarely indicated. It becomes noticeable only during the interview.
How to Prepare for Soft Skills Questions
In fact, it is very difficult to prepare. If you don’t have the necessary soft skills, then preparing for an interview alone won’t work them out. If they are – most likely, everything will go fine. But in order to worry less, you can find out in advance what is approximately waiting for you – then you will perceive everything calmer and behave more confidently.
In general, prepare like this:
If you get a job in a large company, study how behavioral interviews are conducted there. Often information about this is on the Internet.
Describe your experience in detail, learn it and be ready to talk at any time of the day, so as not to get confused in a nervous environment. Especially if you have to speak in English.
Rehearse answers to non-standard questions with friends. You can ask anything – you need to learn how to answer quickly and not get lost.
Interviews for soft skills are of three types: biographical, competency-based and case-based. Sometimes they are combined, sometimes they are found separately. Let’s analyze each type and its general outline.
Here you are asked for details of the past, mostly work experience. The main thing not to do is to roll your eyes and think, “Oh my God, tell me about this for the tenth time, everything is written in the resume.” Just give a prepared story about your latest achievements and take this question as a way to warm up.
Here’s what you might be asked:
Tell us about your latest project?
Why did you leave your previous job?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
How do you see the ideal work day?
Tell us about your hobby?
Which of the last books you read do you remember?
What subject did you like best in school?
It is not so important what you answer – it is important how exactly. Sometimes recruiters themselves perceive these questions as an icebreaker – for example, chatting about school, then moving on to serious questions. So smile, be calm, joke a little. But at the same time, do not pour water and answer the case.
With strengths and weaknesses, in general, you can make a tablet for yourself. For example, there is such an interesting example – you can take something from here:
It is also called behavioral, or behavioral-interview. Here you will be asked to tell a story from your experience, and based on it they will draw a conclusion about your competencies.
Typical questions here are:
Can you tell us about a time when you didn’t complete a task on time? What did you do then?
Tell me about a time when you worked on a task and saw that you could do more. How did you do?
Tell me about a work situation in which you took a big risk. What was the risk?
What was the most difficult conflict in your team and how did you get out of it?
Tell us about a mistake you made at work. How did you fix it?
There can be hundreds of different wordings. The bottom line is that you will be asked to tell a story from experience that will demonstrate soft skill in one way or another.
There are response templates for behavioral interviews. The most popular is STAR:
The main thing is not to confuse the initial context and the task. The context is what exactly you are faced with the problem. Where they worked, what problems they had before, what was happening in the company in general. Without context, the task will be incomprehensible, and your solution may seem suboptimal.
There is another response template – PARLA:
The conclusion section is especially good in this template – it shows the interviewer what you have learned and how you can benefit from difficulties.
Let’s try to answer the STAR question to the question “Can you tell us about a time when you did not manage to solve a problem on time? What did you do then?” Let’s take an abstract example.
S: On the project before last, I worked in a startup, we had a mobile team of two people: one for iOS, the other for Android. We were in beta and preparing the first official release.
T: It was necessary to roll out a stable release by a specific date, because marketing activities were assigned to it. As an iOS developer, I had a clear task – to have the application in the App Store by Monday.
A: During the development process, we discovered a critical bug, and by Monday there was no way to be in time. I immediately informed the management, called a meeting, where we collectively came to a consensus that it was worth trying to work on a day off, but keeping the appointed deadline. We were able to fix the problem on Saturday, and on Sunday all manual tests were passed.
R: As a result, we managed to release the application on time. We immediately conducted a post-mortem, drew conclusions and set tasks to prevent such situations in the future. After that, the probability of unforeseen problems was reduced by 25%.
Often in this interview, companies test you against their values. Their values are usually written somewhere on the site, so study them and prepare in advance stories that are consistent with these values. If there are no exactly such stories, tweak the existing ones a little, they won’t check you.
For example, a company writes that it relies on data to make decisions. Tell a story about how you collected some numbers, brought them to the team, and based on them introduced some new feature.
It is very important to remember here – if there is another person in your story, do not evaluate or criticize him. Evaluate his actions and the situation, but not the person personally.
Here you will be given a fictional situation and asked to come up with a solution. It’s mostly about imagination and the ability to improvise, so it’s the hardest thing to prepare here. They may ask:
What do you do about a colleague’s very toxic remarks that are actually just plain taste?
Imagine that you have taken a task, set a deadline, but do not have time to finish it. How do you do?
A feature arrived for development, you look at the design and understand that it violates the guidelines and does not fit at all. What will you do?
Here it will be useful to ask clarifying questions and try to answer as calmly as possible, but honestly. This section is also useful for you – because you will tell how you really will act in such a situation. And if your actions do not suit the company, it may be uncomfortable for you to work here.
After various questions about the past, shortcomings and cases, you will be asked about motivation – the desire to work in this company. This is just the same classic question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”.
Such questions do not require a specific answer. You can argue in the spirit of “I do not plan for such a long time, but I think I will devote the next 2-3 years to career growth.”
To the questions “What would you like to do at a new place of work with us?”, “Why did you choose our company?” it is important to answer carefully. Do not flatter too much and be more honest – you probably have some reasons.
Get ready for the interview:
Get into technical aspects, especially if the manager recently left the developers.
Ask to translate a number from one number system to another.
Ask what you wanted to be when you grew up.
Ask what your dog’s name is and why you named him that.
In any situation, respond calmly and kindly.
Brief instructions for answering any questions
Do not pour water, answer only capaciously and to the point.
Rely on hard facts.
Focus on the success of yourself, not the team. “I”, not “We”. Now is your finest hour.
React to the interviewer’s reaction. Listen actively and adapt.
Look the interlocutor directly in the eye (well, or into the camera).
Be calm and moderately relaxed.
If the interviewer is speaking, listen carefully and ask clarifying questions.
Pause in the monologue so that the interviewer can easily ask you questions.
The best vacancies are in our telegram bot! It is not necessary to apply for vacancies, it is not necessary to look for a job – you can use this as a tool to monitor the market. Here, for example, a person found out that his St. Petersburg salary was 60% (!) Less than he could earn.