There are many sample technical questions on the Internet on different programming language topics that you can visit, study, or memorize before your technical interview. But it is as important to be able to answer non-technical questions in the interview. Such questions focuses on the soft skills that you have, how do you perform under pressure, and how do you fit within the culture of the company you’re applying for.

But before I dig into that, I highly recommend checking out this book for the technical portion of your interview : Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle McDowell (paid link). The book gives you questions and solutions, as well as coverage of essential topics, such as big O time, data structures, and core algorithms.

Now, when it comes to the soft-skills, which is usually either a covered in the phone interview, or later during the on-site interview, there are many questions that could be asked, but in this article I will be focusing on the most common ones that I’ve asked before or been asked.

The typical interviews should start by introductions of both parties, then followed by small icebreakers, like “Have you been in this area before?” or “How was your drive in today?”. Then after that the interviewer will start asking you the normal interview questions. Be creative with your answers to the first basic questions and show your personality, it is important for you, as much as it is important for the company you’re interviewing with, to make sure that you’re a fit for them and they’re fit for you.

Tip: It is always a good idea to bring few copies of your resume with you. The recruiter should have provided a copy to your interviewers but sometimes they forget or they don’t provide enough copies.

Now lets talk about the questions you might get asked during the interview:

  • What do you know about our company? Have you used/heard or any of our products? I can express enough how important it is to research the company you’re interviewing with. I have asked this question in many interviews in the past and got surprised answers that changes the outcome of the interview drastically. So, do your homework, research the company, their products, and their clients before heading to that interview.
  • Where do you see yourself in the next 1-3 years? Although this question is a cliche, but a lot of people still ask it to make sure that you have goals in your career and not just looking for a job and that’s it. So, think about what you want to do in the future and plan to answer for it.
  • What are some accomplishments you’re proud of in your career? These could be examples of projects you worked on in the past and you did great job at. Apps or websites you publishes, clients you worked closely with, or certificates you earned.
  • How does a typical day in your current position look like? The point of this question is to understand how you work, and if you work with teams or solo, what kind of ceremonies does your team do .. etc. This question is important to see if you can adapt to how the team works within the company.
  • Tell us about a time when you were going to miss a project deadline? What you want to focus on here, other than providing a realistic example, is how did you communicate with others about what was going on, who did you reach out to, did you ask for help, and what was the outcome.
  • What was the most challenging project you worked on? Your answer to this question should focus on the challenges you faces, how did you contribute with others to address them, and whether that affected your ability to still be a team player or not.
  • Tell us about a time when your boss gave you additional tasks on top of your workload? / How do you manage multiple projects at the same time? What you want to show in your answer to this questions is how you handled the situation and how did you prioritize your workload, and how at the end you managed to get everything done.
  • Tell us about a time you received feedback that you didn’t agree with regarding your performance? This is a tricky question, but the idea is how you delivered your response to your boss, what was your response, and what did you do if that feedback was correct.
  • Everyone has some failures, walk us through one of your biggest mistakes or failures? The idea here is to show how you handled the situation and how did you learn from it.
  • Tell us about a time when you reached a point in a project where you were unable to move forward? You could provide technical or non-technical answers, for example being blocked because of dependancies on others, or just simply that you don’t know how to proceed forward. How did you approach that problem, whom did you communicate with, how did you ask for help … etc.
  • How do you stay up-to-date with your current position? / How do you improve your skills? / Do you have any personal side projects? The idea here is to see if you spend time outside of work mastering your craft, doing side projects, or learning more. It might be a good idea to include a portfolio of your projects that you worked on outside of your professional job, or any certificates that you did as well.

Tip: Before your interview, study these questions very well, think about the projects you worked on in the past, and write down the answers so you won’t forget them. It is easy to get overwhelmed during the interview and forget, or not remember what did you work on previously.

At the end of the interview you will get a chance to ask questions, usually you will have about 10-15 minutes to do so, so use it wisely. Below are couple examples of questions that you can ask during that time, and no, don’t ask about the salary here:

  • Describe your team culture: This questions shows that you are interested in the company and want to learn more about their culture. This is also important to you as well to see if the company’s culture will fit you or not.
  • What is the team pace, dynamics, and leadership and organization style? Here you will understand how the company works, number of people on the team. the organization levels, the interviewers might talk about different teams, and how the team you’ll join will work with others.

I hope you find this helpful. It is very important to focus on these questions as much as you focus on the technical side. I’ve seen a lot of people who are solid technically, but lack the social skills which made them not fit for the role they were applying for. Good luck!

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