Six steps to help you succeed in your next developer interview

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The advance of technology never stops, with new innovations hitting the marketplace every day. This is great news if you’re a developer looking to take your career to the next level, but competition for jobs can be tough. Give yourself the best chance on the big day with these top tips from our experts.

As the world becomes increasingly tech-dependent, developers are more in demand than ever before. But as competition for roles remains high, it’s never been more important to ensure you’re well prepared for your next interview.

To help you with this, we’ve asked some of our experts to share their inside knowledge and prepare you to succeed in your next developer interview… 

Tailor your skillset 

“Hiring managers will be looking for someone with relevant experience in a particular field,” says Ash Ali, senior consultant at Robert Walters’ Birmingham office, who advises candidates to customise their CV for every position they apply for to ensure its relevancy for the job in question. “If a role requires mentoring junior developers or full stack development then emphasise any relevant experience you have on your CV, using an addendum if necessary.”

“Don’t forget to mention any technical qualifications you have,” adds Stacy Do, senior IT recruitment consultant at Robert Walters’ office in Ho Chi Minh City, explaining that these could help you stand out from the crowd. “For example, if you’re applying for a more managerial type role then you should highlight any relevant qualifications, like the Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification.” 

Research the company’s tech language

Exploring the company’s website will give you a good idea of what sort of tech language and skillset would be expected of you in the role, explains Ash. “As well as the job specification, take a look at the website and see what language and technologies have been used to build that website — this will help you manage your expectations of the role and shape your interview preparation.”

Stacy advises her candidates that their interview could include a competency test based on their technical knowledge and ability. “Some companies will tell you if they’re planning to give you a test in the interview but others will not, so you should always make sure you’re well prepared just in case you have to carry out a small task.”  

Find the right balance

“In a start-up environment, finding the right balance between hard and soft skills is incredibly important for hiring managers because the structure in these organisations is much flatter,” explains Stacy. “In these types of operations, developers will be expected to talk to a wider number of stakeholders, both domestically and internationally, so there’s greater focus on candidates being well-rounded and having strong interpersonal skills.”

“These days, tech professionals like developers are expected to be much more integrated with the wider team,” adds Ash. “Companies aren’t looking for someone who comes in every day and sits in the corner with their headphones in. They want someone who has proven experience in communicating with non-technical people and who’s going to be an active part of the team - team fit is just as important as any hard, technical skills.”

Stay on trend

“The tech industry is constantly evolving so it’s essential that you know what’s hot on the market,” advises Stacy. Due to the ever-changing nature of the industry, she warns that “the skills and languages you learnt just a couple of years ago may no longer be required, useful or even relevant, so as a good developer you should be constantly updating your tech knowledge and skillset to match demand.”

To help candidates stay on trend, Ash notes that “there are a number of meet-ups and social media forums where people get together and talk about tech trends and what their unique challenges are. For example, new JavaScript frameworks like VideoJS are becoming increasingly popular on the market and these are the types of topics you should be able to mention confidently in an interview to show your knowledge is current.”

Ask the right questions… and avoid the wrong ones

“The questions you ask in your interview should show the hiring manager why you’re looking for a change in your career and explain your motivation for applying in the first place,” says Stacy. “Ask about the potential for career growth in the company to show commitment to the role and don’t forget to talk about your interest in the latest developments in the tech world — that should be an important trait in any good developer.”

When it comes to topics to avoid in the interview, Stacy tells her candidates to stay clear of questions relating to money and salary. “If you go into an interview and immediately start talking about salary and bonuses that does not look great to a hiring manager and you could lose your chance of landing the role there and then,” she says. Instead, she suggests waiting until a later round of interviews or discussing the matter separately with the HR manager.

Prepare for the day itself

When it comes to preparing for an interview, candidates should leave nothing to chance — and that means their journey there, too. As Ash warns, “turning up late for an interview can be a red flag for employers as it could be seen as a sign of things to come. You should always plan your route to the interview well in advance and even do a trial run of the commute if it’s an unfamiliar journey, ensuring you arrive at reception 10 minutes ahead of the interview.”


Interested in more interview advice? Read our blog 7 tips to stand out from the crowd.

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