Technical Interviews for IT Jobs: What to Expect

Technical interviews are usually more detailed and precise than conventional interviews, and employers often look for certain technical skills in candidates.
Ivy Simon
Editorial Writer
Technical interviews are usually  more detailed and precise than conventional interviews, and employers often look for certain technical skills in candidates.

If you’re applying for a graduate job in IT, employers may ask you to join a technical interview. A technical interview is often different from other kinds of conventional employment interviews. In technical interviews, employers are looking to draw out your experience and knowledge to see how well you would match the role and how easily you can tackle unfamiliar scenarios. 

Some employers may hold technical interviews separate from their general interviews, while others may just include technical questions in a general interview instead. Regardless, their main goal is still the same.

The types of questions you can expect to encounter at a technical interview will typically include:

Behavioural questions
Situational questions
Education questions
Experience and skills-based questions 

Behavioural questions

Technical interviews typically start off like any other interview would: with a series of general and behavioural questions, that are designed to find out more about the candidate and how they will fit in with the role and company culture.

You can use the STAR strategy: Situation, Task, Action, and Result, to structure your answers based on the past experiences that you have. That is, describe the situation you were in, explain the task you were given, discuss the actions you took to complete that task, and then identify the results that came from it.  

Examples of behavioural questions:
1.What were your role and responsibilities on the latest project you worked on?
2.What is one of the proudest projects you've worked on? How did you achieve success?
3.Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?

Situational questions

The interviewer will usually provide you with a few hypothetical situations and you will be asked to resolve or respond to the problem. With these sets of questions, the interviewer is looking to determine whether you have thought ahead about upcoming challenges that might arise in your work and how you would handle them. 

Similarly, these situational questions can be answered by utilising the STAR strategy. Some of the questions that you can be asked include:
1.What would you do if you were given a task and were unsure about how to complete it?
2. If a project is due for deployment in X number of days, what steps would you take to meet the deadline?
3.How would you deal with a difficult colleague to accomplish a given task?

Educational questions

When an interviewer asks you about your educational background, they are trying to determine if the technical education and training you have has sufficiently prepared you for the job you're applying for.  

To prepare for these types of questions, make sure to brush up on your past coursework before the interview – especially on topics/modules which are most relevant to the job you’re applying for. You should make sure to highlight any additional certifications, coursework, training, or achievements you have when answering these questions. 

Examples of educational questions:
1.What courses have you taken that are relevant to the position which you are applying for?
2.Can you summarise what you learned from this technical certification course?
3.What do you do to keep your technical knowledge up-to-date?

Experience and skills-based questions

The interviewer will ask you about your past experiences working in IT and grill you on relevant skills. They may also use visual aids for these, such as asking you to review some code on the spot, or having you find something on a database schema.   

Do your best to keep your answers as simple and easily understood as possible. If you have to describe technical concepts, make sure your audience understands what you are referring to.. You should also always walk interviewers through your thought process step-by-step. 

Examples of technical questions:
1.How have you used this programming language in past projects?
2.Please identify all errors in this block of code.
3.We need some software to sort through a user’s appointments and display them on a calendar. How would you go about creating this? 

Tips to ace your technical interviews:

Explain your answer: Most technical questions have a correct answer. To make your answer stand out from the other candidates, elaborate on your problem-solving process and the reasoning behind it. 

Brainstorm solutions to a problem: Don't get stuck at coming up with only one solution to a problem. Some technical questions have several possible answers. You should explain how you use each method to reach the desired solution. 

Be honest about what you don't know: In this case, honesty is the best policy. Be frank about questions that you do not know the answer to. However, you should explain what you would do to find the answer to the problem if you faced it at work. 

Prepare to prove your skills: Sometimes you will be asked to prove your skills through brainteasers, coding challenges or other on-the-spot tests. Remember to explain the process and steps you took to reach your final solution.