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Own Your Tech Interview

Coming straight from the mouths of technical hiring managers, follow these five steps to fully prepare for your next tech interview.

Own Your Tech Interview

Setting yourself up to properly prep for a tech interview

The oldest piece of advice in the job searching book is to “just get an interview,” it’s so much easier to impress people face-to-face than it is with just words on a page.

All of this is great, I truly believe it to be true. However, it does not serve the purpose of discrediting the need for some serious and in-depth interview prep.

While it may be true, it is certainly easier to impress your hopefully soon-to-be hiring managers when you have the opportunity to show personality, but you still need to take this seriously. If you’re given the one-in-a-few-hundred chance (we seriously get 600+ apps on every app, queue the importance of following up) opportunity to interview, you should be proud! You have accomplished the hardest part, but dwelling on this excitement and failing to adequately prepare could certainly hurt you.

I encourage you to use this new sense of accomplishment and put that adrenaline to work. I sat down with Climate People’s Senior Climate Tech Recruiter, Aruna Mandulapalli, to outline some of the key mistakes candidates make when interviewing for highly-technical roles. With 20+ years of software recruiting under her belt, Aruna has debriefed hundreds of flopped technical interviews directly with the hiring managers themselves. Trust me when I say, she has seen the good, bad, and ugly.

Coming straight from the mouths of technical hiring managers, follow these five steps to fully prepare for your next tech interview.

1. Research the company and interviewers

Founders in the climate space are passionate about their solutions. They have such a strong-willed desire to save our planet, that they founded a company on that very premise. Mirroring that passion will help you sell your value as a strong candidate. You can teach skills, but passion has to be there from the beginning.

You should be able to fully articulate this passion once you done sufficient research. It is critical to fully understand the company, its mission, and its climate solution. Skim company blog posts, read (and re-read) their about us pages, watch videos, etc. You will be expected to have a strong grasp of the company and the work that they’re doing.

Second to this, make sure you have done sufficient research on your interviewers. You should be told who you will be interviewing with, and if you are not — ask! A simple scroll on their LinkedIn will not suffice. While yes, you should browse their LinkedIn profile, you should also find their website, dive deep into their GitHub, and learn as much as you possibly can about them. They’re expecting you to do so and will be impressed if you can touch on how they write their code and the tricks they use in their work.

2. Prep your compelling WHY

This is arguably the most important part (in hindsight, maybe it should’ve been step #1). Your “why” statement is the first thing that every interviewer wants to know. It’s plain and simple: “why do you want this job?”

We cannot answer this part for you, but it’s critical to have a thought-out and concise answer to this question. Your why can revolve around the job itself, the company, the hiring manager, the technology, the climate solution, or a mix of all of the above.

3. Be curious about the company and interview

Your interviewer will ask you if you have any questions for them. Please don’t be the person that doesn’t have a single question. This just makes you look goofy. Goofy and even worse — unprepared.

Aruna recounts one debrief session when a candidate didn’t ask a question and the hiring manager responded “we didn’t see a compelling reason for why he wants to be here.” This candidate was in fact very interested, but the lack of questions gave off the opposite of his intentions.

We also encourage you to be curious about the tech interviews that you will be given. You should always ask the hiring managers these two questions:- What the sessions will be about?- What can I expect in the interview?

4. Brush up on your foundation

I don’t want to go too in-depth with this step because it can mean very different things for every job. The key takeaway is that if you have it on your resume, you should be able to do it and be able to do it well.

If you are applying for a junior-level position, the hiring team will be gauging hell well you can take instruction and execute tasks. If you’re more senior, they will be examining you on how well you can influence and lead a team.

Read, read again, and re-read the job description and ensure you have perfected the skills listed — both the technical and the interpersonal ones.

5. Sit down with your resume and take notes

You should go into this interview knowing your resume like the back of your hand. Take a look at every bullet point on your resume and be able to bring it to life and provide context with a related project that you have worked on.

When you are asked open-ended questions, think about your best projects and talk about those. Prioritize the ones that you’re actually proud of rather than ones that are more connected to the company you’re interviewing for.

**bonus step *** Don't use “we” statements

Coding interviews should be all about you. While, yes, you are part of a team, this is your opportunity to focus on your individual contribution. To truly impress your interviewers, you must be able to talk about the code, architecture, and design that you did individually.

Rely on your research from step one (researching your interviewers) and emphasize the work that resonates with them. What parallels can you draw from your work to their GitHub pages? Did they have a YouTube video discussing a certain coding obstacle?

You can mention the “we” when discussing the scope and the impact of the project, but the nitty gritty needs to be focused on the “I.”

Are you feeling jazzed? You certainly should be! If you did your homework and followed these 5 (ehh ~6) steps, you will be guaranteed to knock the socks right off your interviewers.

We have first-hand evidence that if you follow these steps, Aruna’s post-interview debrief with your hiring manager will be chocked full of stoke (no opportunistic blog content will be fueled by your interview ;))! Case and point - meet Keiko Henry, a Japanese Bilingual Sr. Climate Analytics Lead at Persefoni who absolutely crushed her interview.

As always, our inbox is always open. Shoot us a message if you have any questions or want to dive deeper into your next tech interview prep. Better yet, we’re pretty connected in the climate space and would love to work with you.

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