5 ways to nail your next developer job interview

TL;DR

  1. Understand your interviewers via LinkedIn
  2. Follow the ‘STAR’ system
  3. Be systematic with a person specification grid
  4. Practice ‘classic’ questions (we give a list!)
  5. Prepare questions to ask back

You’ve nailed your CV, flown through the tech test and now you’ve bagged the interview. Great work! Feeling nervous? That’s okay, we’ve got your back.

In this article we walk through five top tips for preparing effectively for that final hurdle.


1: Do some digging on your interviewers

A great starting place is understanding who will be your interviewers and what makes them tick. LinkedIn is your best friend here. Start by asking your contact, usually HR, who will interview you. They will normally provide some names – throw them straight into LinkedIn and get digging! Look to answer questions like:

  • What is their job title?

    Are they a CTO, a Delivery Manager or a fellow developer? Each role will have a different lens on what makes a good developer, so take note and consider how you frame yourself accordingly.
  • What kind of qualifications do they have?

    Look to see if there’s any commonality in their qualifications. Often companies will get everyone together to do group qualifications, so if you see everyone has done an AWS qualification it’s a clear sign that the company either uses or intends to use AWS, and you should play up any experience around that.
  • How will they benefit from me being hired?

    This links to their job title in some ways, but you might also want to look for any gaps the interviewers might have that you can help patch up with your own experience. Maybe you’ll note a lack of backend experience amongst them, and if the job spec also mentions backend you know that you should focus on your experience in that area (without mentioning their lack of experience!).
  • What are their pet peeves and interests?

Dive into their feed. If they regularly rant about old school Waterfall methodology, you know to play up your Agile knowledge in the interview. Equally, if they seem passionate about Web3 and you have some interest in this area, you could look to work this into any examples you give.

It’s also a good idea to turn on the feature in LinkedIn that lets people know you’ve looked at their profile. This will put your name and experience in front of the interviewers ahead of time, helping make you more memorable. On the same basis, it’s also a good idea to send a connection request to them with a small note saying you’re looking forward to the interview.


Remember, you’re also interviewing them, so whilst you’re collecting information to aid your chances of success, you should also be looking to see if these are people you would like to work with or not.

2: STAR

A very common mistake developers make in interviews is to answer questions without giving solid examples or outcomes. A great system to remember is the ‘STAR’ system:

  • Situation: give some detail around the example you’re about to give, set the scene
  • Task: clearly outline what your responsibilities were in this situation
  • Action: what did you do to deal with the situation
  • Result: what were the outcomes that you achieved


Many interviewees get around half way down the STAR system, but it’s really important to focus on exactly what you did (it can feel unnatural and boastful, but a necessary part of an interview) and further to that, why your action was valuable in the form of a result.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash


3: Person spec grid

Now it’s time to apply the STAR method to the specific job you’re applying for.

Create a table of two columns, in the first list all the person specification requirements, and in the second think up an example from your experience that provides evidence that you meet that job specification item. Be sure to follow the STAR system all the way through.

Job specification requirementMy evidence
Has experience of building CI pipelinesS:
T:
A:
R: 


Following this method will ensure you’re prepared with plenty of well thought out examples. A good interview should be asking questions that seek to ratify that you meet the job specification, so this should cover your bases well for most questions.

4: Practice classic questions

Start off by writing questions for each of the job spec items you’ve already gone through and practice those. However, there are plenty of ‘classic’ interview questions that may well crop up that don’t directly align to a given job specification. Try to also prepare answers for the below questions:

  • Talk me through your CV
  • How would you explain a concept like ____ to a non technical colleague?
  • Tell me about a time you had to present to stakeholders
  • Tell me about a product that annoys you. What’s wrong with it?
  • Tell me about a time you had to flex your working style with a colleague
  • Tell me about a time you had to respond to negative feedback
  • What excites you about the future of tech?
  • How do you deal with competing tight deadlines?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What made you apply for this job?
  • Are you familiar with any development methodologies? 
  • Tell me about a project that went wrong
  • How do you feel about pair programming?

You should avoid the temptation to memorize answers, this will result in a more stunted and robotic response, with interviewers also looking at your ‘person fit’ throughout the interview process. You should also be careful not to try shoehorn in prepared examples to questions which are different, you may well not use the examples you’ve prepared, but simply going through the process of preparing them will make it easier to answer alternative questions in an interview.

5: Prepare your own questions

This is a two way process, and you have to be sure this is the right next step for you. What do you need to know more about to feel confident in taking the job should you be successful? Write out any questions you want to ask the interviewers, as you will likely be given an opportunity to ask them at the end of the interview. This also shows something about your work ethic and will leave an impression that you’re a proactive candidate. 


Over to you

You can only prepare so much. Do what you can without over burdening yourself, and remember, there is a big element of luck involved in interviews. They’re not perfect processes, and many other people may be interviewing for the same job. If you don’t get it, keep on trying and the right thing will land eventually. If your job search is suitably focussed, you will be able to recycle a lot of your prep for future opportunities.

Good luck, we’re rooting for you. 

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