Cracking a technical interview

September 26, 2013
4 mins
After working through rigorous years in college, the placement season is finally upon you. You applied for your dream company and fortunately, were shortlisted. You have also survived the ruthless eliminations in the written test and the group discussion. Now it’s just the technical interview that separates you from your goal. At this stage, the help that you could get from your resume is over and it’s up to you how you drive your interview and whether you get selected for the job.
So Here are a few tips on how to crack a technical interview.

Strengthen your fundamentals

Once you walk in through that door, there would most definitely be tough situations; problems which you would never have faced earlier in your life. In all such cases, your fundamentals would back you up and definitely help you get close, if not solve the problem altogether.

It’s important for you to get the basics right if you falter with fundamentals, it is certainly going to leave a bad impression on the interviewer.

Are you sure what a Foreign Key is? What is a Static Variable? Make sure you have your basics clear, here are few questions for your reference.

Know thyself

Most technical interviews begin with a simple question, “Tell us about yourself”. Unfortunately, this particular simple question has no straightforward answer. It’s an opportunity to market yourself and focus on things which are not on your resume.  Tell them how good a team player you are and how you drove your most recent project to completion with ease.
It’s a good idea to be prepared for this question because you will have to face it invariably.
Remember that you can steer the interview process through this question but make sure that you don’t deviate from what is mentioned in the job description. For instance, you DO NOT want to talk about your interests in appearing for a management exam while interviewing for a technical position.

The Team Player

No matter how efficient you are as an individual, companies prefer team players over lone wolves. Try to emphasize on how well you will work in a team. If you can give an example of how well you did as a team in your recent projects or internships, it will definitely earn you extra points in the mind of the interviewer.

Think Aloud

When a technical question has been rolled out to you, chances are that you need to think and come up with a proper approach in order to solve it. If you are unable to solve it, and that’s the first thing that you speak, you would probably leave a bad impression! The trick here is to think aloud- mention what is going inside your head, so that the interviewer knows your thought process. Taking the correct approach is always more important than blatantly solving problems.

If you are asked to write a program, let the interviewers know how you plan to go about doing it. Try and explain your steps and why you are taking those! It’s good to write some pseudocode before writing the actual program, but make sure you let the interviewers know. Always remember to test your code for bugs.

Be Honest, They’re Smart!

There might be a point in an interview where you could be asked about your role in a specific project. Although, you may be tempted to exaggerate your contributions, it’s generally advisable to stick to the reality. Always keep in mind that the panel has interviewed hundreds (if not thousands) of candidates and they will be able to guess if you were to tell something beyond your capabilities. Similarly, if you have seen a problem before, it’s recommended that you let the interviewer know.

It’s all about your attitude

No matter how well prepared you are, it’s perfectly normal to get stuck on a question. In such a situation, it’s important to show how hard you are trying. At the same time, keep your mind open for subtle hints which he/she may throw at you. Interviewers love it when you are able to connect the dots and come to the correct answer. Be confident in what you are saying. It’s a known tactic by interviewers to ask you if you are doubly sure of your answer.


Although in campus interviews, you are given the results almost immediately, it is not the same in the case of the off-campus ones. Make sure you ask questions, ask about the team and its culture to leave the impression that you are actually interested in working for them.

Smile, and look positive, even if you’ve screwed it up!


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