Interview Prep

There is no single or universal way to respond to an interview question. There will be times during an interview where the interviewer will be looking for something very specific, whether that is a specific skillset or specific interest. There are also times when the interviewer does not explicitly know what they want, so they look to find someone with the right chemistry or the right "vibe." Being interviewed is a bit like learning how to ride a bike or how to swim; the first couple of times you are just learning how not to fall or not to sink, and with more practice, you slowly learn things on your own, such as reading body language, reading the room, picking up on interview social cues, becoming more relaxed, etc.

CDS has a room in 805 East that students can use for phone or video interviews. They have to book in advance. They can call the front desk at 212 772 4850.

Behavioral Interview Questions

Here are some examples of behavioral interview questions you might be asked. You can also search online for more interview question examples. You might be able to find more examples for the specific company or job you're interviewing for at Glassdoor

1. Thanks for coming in today to interview with us. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

3 part response: 1) Brief personal summary: name, school, major, grad date, 2) Offer a quick overview of your skills/relevant projects & 3) "I'm excited to be here interviewing at _____ because..." [Brainstorm: What values do you share with the company? What do you like about their products/tech/people who work there? Could you see yourself happy at this company? How so?]

2. What online resources do you use to help you do your job?

Answer the question in such a way where it will illustrate to the interviewer how "resourceful" you are and your ability to think outside the box.

3. How do you keep your technology skills current?

Discuss how engaged you are with the latest trends. Give an example of how you kept your technology skills current by moving from one to another.

4. Pretend I'm not a tech person. Can you explain [a relevant technology] in simple terms?

The interviewer here is really looking to see whether or not you truly understand that piece of technology and how well you can articulate it.

5. What qualities do you think are most important in a developer [or another relevant position]?

For this question, think of it more as personal attributes and soft skills rather than what programming languages you know or what technical skills you have. For instance, you might say that while developers need the appropriate technical skills for the projects they're working on, there are other qualities that will help them be successful in their jobs. Some of the qualities you might mention include teamwork, communication, the ability to learn quickly and pick up on new things, a desire to keep growing and learning, a passion for new technologies, organizational skills, being able to take initiative to find errors in the code and fix them, coming up with new ideas, etc. You should pick just three or four qualities you think are important and relevant to the specific position, and you should be able to explain to an interviewer why you think those qualities are important.

6. What three words would your friends use to describe you?

Think of three words that describe the best aspects of you and use those aspects. Be sure to include aspects that are relevant to the position you are applying to.

7. Tell me the last thing you programmed for yourself or for fun.

Talk about a recent project you did. Describe what it was, why you chose to work on it, and what technical skills you used.

8. Can you tell me about a time when things didn't go the way you wanted at work, such as a project that failed or being passed over for a promotion?

When you are describing such a time, make sure to use the STAR Technique. S for Situation which was the background information, T for Task or what you had to do, A for Activity that you actually did (this should be the longest part of your answer), R for Results, quantifiable; what you learned; what you would do differently next time.

9. What are your favorite and least favorite technology products, and why?

Be yourself here and talk about why you're passionate. For example talk about why you're Team Apple or Team Android.

10. What are the benefits and the drawbacks of working in an Agile environment?

Know what an agile environment is, and then talk about two benefits and two drawbacks of working in such an environment for you.

11. Tell me about a tech project you've worked on in your spare time

Make sure to let your enthusiasm show when you talk about your project. Talk about what inspired you to make the project, how long the project took to complete and how much of your spare time went into it.

12. What was the last presentation you gave?

Be honest here. If it was a school presentation, be clear it was a school presentation. If you have not given a presentation in a while, you should be clear.

13. What are the qualities of a successful team or project leader?

List three qualities of an ideal team and/or project leader.

14. Are you comfortable working remotely or on a flexible schedule?

Be honest here and tell the interviewee which works best for you and why. Given specific examples as to why for whichever you pick.

15. What would you hope to achieve in the first six months after being hired?

This best way to answer this question is to have done research about the company prior to the interview. Then talk about one project you really want to work on if you were hired and talk about working on that project within the first six months.

16. How do you manage your work-life balance?

What the interviewer wants to know here is how you manage your time. Tell the interviewer how you manage and prioritize your time.

17. Why do you want to work for us?

Talk about one or two great works of that company and how you hope to contribute to that company.

18. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

These types of questions are cliché, and everyone knows it. What the employer is looking for is how you're able to differentiate yourself from others, specifically how you are able to sell yourself while also thinking outside the box.

Dress Code for Interviews

The dress code differs for every company you apply to. For example if Google contacts you for an interview, their dress code is different than if you were to receive an interview from Chase. The dress code is important for the interview as it shows you are aware of the company's culture, which shows in the clothing choice. Prior to choosing your outfit for the interview, make sure to google that company's dress code policy and dress accordingly. It's always safer to dress more formally than what the employees wear on a regular basis. 

Following up - Sending a Thank You Note

It is not a requirement to follow up an interview with a thank you note, but it is highly recommended. The follow ups are generally very brief; you send an email to your interviewer with a subject line along the lines of "Thank you." In the email, you would simply state

Dear [name of interviewer],

I wanted to thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview for [position title] at [company name]. It was a pleasure to get to speak to you.

Thank you.

[your name]

Again, this is a template, and you can add variations to this template for a thank you email. Please note you should only send a thank you email if the interview did not go poorly. 

Full list of our Job Search and Interview Information

You can find a full list of all the pages on the Handbook here..... 

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