What is a technical interview?
A technical interview is an essential and rigorous part of the hiring process for certain roles. You will commonly find technical interviews used for positions in engineering, science, IT and computer science.
Because these technical science jobs require a high level of proficiency, a technical interview is conducted so that the candidate can show off their skillset. This gives the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate how they will use their skills in situations that may arise if they get the job.
A technical interview is beneficial for both the employer and the candidate. The candidate gets to develop and practise their niche skillset in a real-world situation, while the employer gets a chance to judge the candidate's performance and suitability for the role.
How long does a technical interview last?
The duration of a technical interview can range from one hour to a full day depending on the complexity of the job. It's also important to be prepared for multiple rounds of interviewing, depending on how many candidates have applied for the job.
Are technical interviews hard?
Technical interviews are unpredictable, and the questions you might encounter within a technical interview depend entirely on the role you're applying for. All interviews are hard to some extent, but technical interviews are seen as particularly tough - it is a test of skill, ability, and problem-solving. As you can probably tell, a technical interview is much more specific and refined than a general job interview.
Technical interviews can be intimidating if you're not prepared. However, with the correct technical interview prep, you'll be ready to answer all of your technical interview questions in no time.
Examples of technical interview questions
All technical interview questions fall into one of three categories: behavioural questions, technical problem-solving questions and situational questions. These questions will also be asked alongside 'general' interview questions regarding your experience and employment history.
- What is an example of a time you faced a conflict with a co-worker? How did you resolve this conflict?
- Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different to yours.
- How do you handle it when someone points out a mistake you've made?
- If a manager asked you to perform a task that you weren't familiar with, what would be your next course of action?
- Have you ever over-delivered on an important project? If so, why and how?
- Describe a time when you were unsatisfied with your job.
- What technical qualifications do you have for this role?
- What are the core skills and qualities that you think are needed for this role?
- What part of your education has been most helpful in your career so far?
Technical interview preparation tips
Due to the unpredictability of technical interview questions, the STAR guideline is the best way to prepare your technical interview answers.
S - Situation: Set the scene and give necessary details of your example.
T - Task: Describe your role and responsibilities in the situation.
A - Action: Explain the steps you took and why.
R - Result: Share and evaluate the outcomes of your actions.
To stand out against other candidates in a technical interview, you must always be ready to prove your skills. For roles in Data Programming and Engineering, you may be required to tackle a coding assignment, a whiteboard coding challenge or a series of brainteasers and situational roleplays.
It is essential to always explain your reasoning and your process throughout these challenges. Most importantly, always ask for clarification if you need it. There's no point in muddling through a question that you haven't fully understood.
Asking for clarification in a technical interview shows initiative and honesty, and that you know when you need to ask for additional information. This is an extremely desirable skill in workplace culture, and your honesty will go far.