Photo by Samantha Borges on Unsplash

Interviewing sucks. But you need a job! So here we are.

Every company conducts tech interviews so differently.

One company held a Q&A session remotely where 3 developers watched me and took turns asking me questions that expected me to have documentation memorized like "What's a ___ in React?" I almost said, "could I...could I google that for you?"

Another company asked me to talk about my projects and when I offered to show them on my laptop, they didn't want to see them. πŸ€”

Others have shown me a site design and asked me how I would approach developing it (by talking through it).

Another would ask me to write Javascript functions on a whiteboard. Another asked me to write a whole web page on a whiteboard πŸ™„

Set yourself up for success

The most important thing you should do is feel empowered to ask for what you need to be successful. Β In every interview, I learned to get comfortable asking to use the tools I would use in the real world as a web developer: a text editor or an IDE, even if it was just Notepad or TextEdit.

In the real world, developers have text editors like Sublime Text or Visual Studio Code that would autocomplete and offer shortcuts to cut down on development time.

In real world, you have the opportunity to look things up on the internet. You should ask for the same opportunity in the interview, because that's real life. The primary skill of a developer is knowing what keywords to look up to find the answer – resourcefulness.

Interviewers sometimes don't know how to interview effectively

Tech interviews sometimes test people on anything but your tech skills. They attempt to test people on how well they handle stress, how much useless information they've memorized, or how clever they can write things on a whiteboard that you normally type.

In other words, people don't know how to interview effectively or treat candidates like humans. Some interviewers forget what it's like to be nervous and on the other side of the table. Some take the opportunity to be jerks.

Some interviewers conduct interviewing really well

Fortunately, there are companies that take tech interviewing seriously and do it well.

Typically, they interview you at least twice with different interviewers. Usually it's:

1) A pairing session with Coderpad or HackerRank where you do basic Javascript problem sets. Know how to use .map(), .filter(), and .reduce(), make an API call, or style a component. They may ask you algorithm questions.

2) Another pairing session but more advanced concepts like how you'd approach designing the data structure of an application, how you'd work with a backend, how you'd communicate with a product owner about competing deadlines, or how you'd communicate and negotiate with a designer around accessibility.

The important thing to remember is that you're interviewing them too. These are future colleagues. If anything they say or do makes you feel uncomfortble, remember that it is a good sample of what you'd experience on a daily basis.

Although you are in the vulnerable position where you might really need a job, you should not accept just anything to get your foot in the door. A bad first experience can turn you off or discourage you from pursuing web development in the short-term future.

Examples of red flags to look for in a company

  • The interviewer makes sexist or racist remarks
  • The interviewers have their mics and cameras turned off while they watch you code and they don't answer your questions
  • They interviews ask you questions that could be Googled, and when you ask if you could Google them, they say No
  • They ask you to solve a bug in their existing codebase within 30 minutes (when other employed developers probably spent hours and hadn't solved it)

Ways to do well in your tech interview

  • Recall past problems you had to solve, and remember that you can overcome this.
  • Ask questions. Be curious. People should be available to answer your questions in the actual job no matter how much they emphasize "must work independently" – nobody does it alone. Nobody.
  • Catch yourself when you might be talking too much. Checking in and asking things like, "did I answer your question?" or "does that make sense?"
  • If you sense you're not doing well during the interview, think of it as a practice session. Experience builds confidence. No mock test or simulation can prepare you for the next interview better than an actual interview.

Remember, with every interview you attend, the better you will get at it and the closer you will get to that one dream job!