Interviewing for jobs in IT typically follows a more or less standard procedure comprising several rounds of interviews to assess your technical and non-technical skills. There are variations depending upon the company, but we hope the overview below gives you a general idea so that you can prepare yourself better.
- Call with a recruiter/HR - After you send in your application, usually someone from the HR department will get in touch with you after a few days if they think your profile suits the role. If you applied through a recruiter, then the recruiter might be the one letting you know. This round consists of general, non-technical questions about your background, motivation and past experience, and your salary expectations. For ideas on how to prepare your CV and a checklist of documents for your job application, please have a look at Things to keep in mind while preparing your CV and Checklist of documents for a job application in Germany.
- Call or meeting with tech team: This step might or might not happen depending on the company. The call with the HR is sometimes followed by a call or an on-site meeting with someone from the tech team. This is an opportunity for you to get to know them and for them to get to know you to make sure you are good fit for each other. They will usually ask you more details about your technical and non-technical skills and previous experience, and you have the chance to ask for more details about the tasks and responsibilities that the role entails. Although the technical questions are important, do not underestimate the importance of non-technical questions, such as those about your motivation and soft skills.
Do not underestimate the importance of non-technical questions, such as those about your motivation and soft skills.
- Coding test or take-home coding assignment - The next round usually involves you solving a coding test or a coding assignment. Coding tests are either held online on a platform, such as Hackerrank, DevSkiller or Codility where you have to solve a set of problems on the platform within a given time, or live where you are given one or more problems in person or via a video call and have to solve it while the interviewer reviews your solution simultaneously. Succeeding in coding tests needs practice and some understanding of the common patterns underlying the questions. Fortunately there are some great books and courses out there that can help you prepare. I would highly recommend the book Cracking the Coding Interview and the course Grokking the Coding Interview.
There are a few things we would suggest keeping in mind, particularly for online coding tests:
Do not hesitate to ask questions and understand what is expected before the test. For example, does the test need to be completed using a specific programming language?
Write comments in your code to explain your approach wherever needed.
Attempt all questions. Don't try to over-optimize your answer for one problem and not leave any time for the rest. Divide your time, go through all questions quickly once at the beginning and pick the easy ones first to get some confidence.
Some companies prefer to give a coding assignment which you can solve at home within a specified time-frame (few days usually). Here are some things you should keep in mind for these take-home assignments:
Make sure you know what is expected. Before you start working on the assignment, make sure you understand the task thoroughly and know what is expected. For example, which programming language should be used? What are the evaluation criteria?
Write a Readme with instructions on how to run your solution.
Write comments in your code to explain your solutions and to back up your decisions. Often employers are not interested in a perfect solution, but in a methodical problem-solving approach.
- Meeting with the head of the division/CTO: Candidates that successfully pass the coding round are usually invited for a meeting with head of the division or the CTO. This is usually a general discussion which might also give you a chance to negotiate the terms of your employment. This is usually followed by an offer for employment.
Whether you pass an interview round or not, it is always a good idea to ask for feedback.
Usually the entire process from sending in the application until the final offer takes around 4-5 weeks. This however, can vary significantly depending on the type and size of the company. Whether you pass an interview round or not, it is always a good idea to ask for feedback. Like this you will get to learn from your experience and it will also show the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the role.
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