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4. Interview for Software Engineers - Starting an IT Job

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This is a guide how to pass an interview for software engeneer from the seminar "Starting an IT Job" in Telerik Academy. …

This is a guide how to pass an interview for software engeneer from the seminar "Starting an IT Job" in Telerik Academy.
Telerik Software Academy: academy.telerik.com/seminars/it-job-interview
The website and all video materials are in Bulgarian

Table of contents:
What is a Job Interview?; Preparation for an Interview; Typical Interview Questions and Answers for Software Engeeers; Clasical Questions; Technical Questions; Non-Technical (Personlity) Questions; Questions to Ask; Typical Mistakes and How to Avoid Them?

Starting an IT Job Seminar @ Telerik Academy
academy.telerik.com/seminars/it-job-interview

Published in: Education, Business, Technology

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  • 1. Interview for a Software Engeneer What to Do and What to Avoid?Nikolay KostovTechnical Trainerhttp://nikolay.itTelerik Software Academyacademy.telerik.com
  • 2. Table of Contents1. What is a Job Interview?2. Preparation for an Interview3. Typical Interview Questions and Answers for Software Engineers  Classical Questions  Technical Questions  Non-Technical (Personality) Questions  Questions to Ask4. Typical Mistakes and How to Avoid Them? 2
  • 3. What is a Job Interview? A Stressful Situation or a Chance toDemonstrate Your Knowledge and Skills?
  • 4. What is a Job Interview? A job interviewis a meeting aimed to assess a candidate for a certain job position  The candidate should prove he or she is the right person for the offered position  The interviewers asses the skills of the candidate and his or her personality  By questions and small tasks  The candidate tries to prove his or her skills  The candidate demonstrates his or her personal character 4
  • 5. How to Overcome the Stress? The job interview is a stressful situation!  You need to present yourself in the best way  In most cases candidates fail to demonstrate their skills due to stress How to overcome the stress?  Just be well prepared!  Prepare yourself for the technical and non-technical questions  Expect the questions and have good answers 5
  • 6. Interview Preparation What is the Best Way to PrepareYourself for an Upcoming Interview?
  • 7. Steps to Prepare for an Interview Once you have scheduled and interview, be sure to prepare yourself for it  It is important to put enough effort in your interview preparation  Half an hour is not enough, invest at least few days Steps to prepare for an interview  Research the company and the HRs  Research the offered position  Prepare for technical questions  Prepare for personality questions 7
  • 8. Research the Company Always research the company you apply for You should expect a question at the interview like "What do you know about our company?"  If you answer "Nothing", you will fail  If you say something incorrect, it is even worse How to find information?  Obligatory explore in details the company Web site, brochures, publications, ads, etc.  Look for articles, blogs, forums, etc.  Ask your friends what do they know 8
  • 9. Research the Company (2) What information you should know?  The company products / services portfolio  The target market and customers  The technologies used in the development (e.g. C#, Silverlight, SQL Server, RIA Services, etc.)  Download the products and play with them  You will be asked what you know about the products related to your prospective job  The company mission, vision, projects, etc.  The corporate culture, corporate values 9
  • 10. Research the Offered Position Obligatory research the offered position, requirements, advantages and responsibilities  You should research all mentioned products, services and technologies in the job description  E.g. if you see "Experience with Selenium is a plus", be sure to install and play with Selenium  Be sure to know all "unknown words and acronyms" in the job description  Be ready to demonstrate skills and experience in the fields from the job description 10
  • 11. Prepare for Technical Questions How to prepare for the technical questions?  Typical general technical questions  Data structures and algorithms  Logical thinking and puzzles  Software engineering questions  Object-oriented programming (OOP)  Specific questions for the offered position  If the job description says "JSF and RichFaces", you should learn these technologies 11
  • 12. Prepare for Technical Questions How do you prepare for a certain technology?  Pass a course / tutorial / read a book / blog article about the unknown technology  Obligatory create a small project using the technology and play with it  This is the only way to get some real-life experience, live in a project  If you have never used a certain technology (e.g. JSF) you cannot say you are prepared  The best way to learn it is by practicing 12
  • 13. The Interview ProcessTypical Scenario for a Technical Interview
  • 14. Technical Interview: The Process A technical interviewfor software engineer / IT professional consists of the following parts:  The candidate presents himself or herself  The interviewers present the company, its business, products, services, etc.  Technical assessment – solve few technical problems and demonstrate the way of thinking  Personal character assessment  Negotiation – salary expectations, start date, … 14
  • 15. Presenting the Company / Position Typical start of an interview: My name is … Our company is … bala-bla-bla … We are leader in … bla-bla-bla … Our products bla-bla-bla … Our projects … bla-bla-bla … We are the best! The interviewers presents themselves  Usually there is more than one interviewer  HR (or HRs) and senior devs and / or team leaders The interviewer presents in short the company, his department, his team, the current and upcoming projects, technologies used, etc.  Some companies skip this step and expect the candidate to know all this stuff 15
  • 16. Presenting Yourself Typical next step in an interview: Present yourself in short – your relevant experience, education, how did you start programming, etc. The candidate is expected to say few words about himself / herself Be prepared to talk 3-5 minutes  Explain how did you start programming  Your last job and projects (if you have)  Your current occupation (e.g. student at NBU)  How did you learn about the position and your motivation to apply 16
  • 17. Technical Assessment The technical assessment is one of the two most important parts of the interview  You will be given technical questions to answer and technical tasks to solve  Always come with a pen and writing pad It is not so important whether you solve correctly the tasks or answer correctly  You should demonstrate your way of thinking!  The interviewer wants to know how you attack the problem, not whether the result is correct 17
  • 18. Technical Question – Example In C# which explain the fastest algorithm to sort a list of customers by their first name? You should demonstrate your way of thinking by saying what you think at the moment, e.g. … I know the build-in Array.Sort() method, but I am not sure it is the fastest. If I had a computer I would perform a Google search. For multi-core CPUs I could try the parallel sorting using LINQ with parallel extensions. I should either implement own comparer or use a lambda function to sort by the FirstName property. Being silent for a minute while you think is evil! 18
  • 19. Technical Task – Example Suppose you are given a simple problem like: How do you can randomize a sequence of playing cards? The first thing to do it to get the writing pad and write an example!  This shows a correct and serious way of thinking  By using the pen explain how you could randomize the sequence of cards  Explain how you will represent a single card and a sequence of cards (data structures)  Explain how you could test your solution 19
  • 20. Personal Character Assessment Assessment of your personal character qualities is very important for the company!  Good software companies will weight your personal skills more than your technical skills You will be asked somehow irrelevant questions that reveal your character, e.g. Do you have experience working in a team? What do you prefer – being a leader or a player? Do you play some kind of sport? At what position? How do you react if you are about to miss a deadline? 20
  • 21. Personal Character Assessment (2) At the personalassessment questions there is no correct or wrong answer  Just be you  Dont recite some others words  Very important: be positive!  Negative people are not welcome anywhere  Be confident  Avoid saying "I dont know"  Demonstrate willingness and ability to work in a harmony and with pleasure with the others 21
  • 22. Negotiation If your interview runs well, you will reach the "negotiation" part  Salary expectations – always have a good answer  Eventual start date  Other terms of the contract (bonuses, holidays, working time, etc.) Companies dont like "money-driven" employees  You should demonstrate motivation to work hard for long-term and continuously improve your skills 22
  • 23. Your Questions Finally you will have a chance to ask your questions  Having no questions is not good  Demonstrate interest to start working  Ask about your first project, about the development process, about your team, etc.  Never ask about salary raises, bonuses, parking space, fitness and sport facilities, etc.  You should demonstrate motivation to work hard, not claims 23
  • 24. Typical Interview Questions and Answers(for Junior Software Development Positions)
  • 25. Typical Interview Questions At a technical interview you will be given questions from several categories:  General questions  Technical questions  Abstract thinking questions  Personal character questions  The "salary" question 25
  • 26. General QuestionsExperience, Education, Future Plans
  • 27. Typical General QuestionsWhere are you from?What High school have you graduated?What University have you graduated / studying now?When you started programming?How many books about computer programming you haveread? What was the name of the last?Do you believe that computer programming is yourpassion and your future job?Can you work on full time (8 hours/day)? If not howmany hours a week you can work? 27
  • 28. Typical General Questions (2)What do you know about our company?What are your English skills? Can you freely talk onthe telephone in English?What are your plans for the next few years? How yousee your career after 2 or 3 years?How you inform yourself about new technologies? Do youread news or blogs? Which sites?Shall you study more after you graduate your currentUniversity degree? Maybe abroad?How will you describe your typical work day? 28
  • 29. Technical QuestionsAlgorithms, Databases, Web Technologies, Etc.
  • 30. Typical Technical Questions Algorithms and data structures: Can you draw a picture of a linked list? What is typical for the Strings in C# / Java / PHP? Explain how polymoprhism works in the object-oriented programming (OOP)? Explain what is a hash-table and how it works. Explain how the QuickSort works. How fast is it? You are given a set of words. Find all their subsets. You have to implement a Web spider which runs on a cluster of machines. How you will design it? 30
  • 31. Typical Technical Questions (2) Databases and SQL: How we implement one-to-many and many-to-many relationship in relational databases? When we use "1 x 1" relationships in database modelling? Give an example. What is database constraint? How constraints work? You have a table consisting of: EmployeeId (PK), Name, Salary, ManagerId (FK), DeptId (FK). Write a SQL query to find the name, salary and department of the employee that has minimal salary in his/her department. If many employees take the minimal salary, display just one of them. 31
  • 32. Typical Technical Questions (3) XML questions: What is the difference between DOM, SAX and StAX parsers for XML? How you use DOM in C# / Java / PHP? What is XPath and how it works? Give an example. How you use Xpath in C# / Java / PHP? Multithreading questions: How we execute multiple tasks in the same time in C#? You have to download 500 files from Internet but your network bandwidth is not too wide to handle 500 downloads simultaneously so you want to download the files by 10 at a time. How you implement this? 32
  • 33. Typical Technical Questions (4) Web development questions (front-end): Explain the difference between HTTP GET and POST requests. Explain the meaning of the following CSS rule: .newscolumn { width: 400px; float: left; clear: both; } We have a <div> element in a HTML page which is visible. How to hide the <div> with JavaScript? How to do the above in jQuery? 33
  • 34. Typical Technical Questions (5) Web development questions (server side): How you could implement a shopping cart in ASP.NET / Java / PHP? What is custom tag / user control in a ASP.NET / Java based Web application? How it works? When we need this technology? What is AJAX and how it works? How we use AJAX in ASP.NET / jQuery / PHP / Java based Web application? We have a list of products that have name, price and photo. We need to display them in a Web application. Describe the steps to do this in ASP.NET / Java / PHP. How we implement URL rewriting in ASP.NET / Java Web application / PHP? 34
  • 35. Typical Technical Questions (6) Software engineering questions: What is software requirements specification (SRS)? What is the typical structure of such document? What is source control repository? Which source control software you have used and when? What is unit testing? When we need it? What unit testting frameworks you have used? How the continous integration works? Explain what is agile development. What is SCRUM? Explain the most important practices of SCRUM. 35
  • 36. Abstract Thinking Questions Puzzles, Unsolvable Problems, Etc.
  • 37. Abstract Thinking Questions Questions in the category "abstract thinking" aim to check the level of alertness, ability to think and to attack unsolvable problems  In some cases there is no correct answer and your task is to demonstrate your thinking Estimate how many gas stations exist in Sofia. Do you see the tree outside on the street? Can you calculate how many leaves it has? You have 8 balls. One of them is defective and weighs less than others. You have a balance to measure balls against each other. In 2 weighings how do you find the defective one? 37
  • 38. Personal Character QuestionsYour Best and Worst Qualities, Ability to Work in a Team, How do you Handle a Stressful Situation?
  • 39. Typical Personal Character Assessment Questions Questions to assess your personal character: Describe the ideal software company from your dreams. Can you describe an ideal collague / team member? What are your 5 best personal character qualities? What are your 5 worst personal character qualities? What kind of sport do you practice? At which position do you play? What shall you do if you have a deadline until tomorrow and your project is not completed? How do you resolve a conflict with a colleague? 39
  • 40. Typical Personal Character Assessment Questions (2) Questions to assess your personal character: Do you prefer to work independently or in a team? Give some examples of a team work from your experience. What does motivate you and what does not? How do you handle stress and pressure? Describe a difficult work situation / project you have experienced and how you overcame it. How you can evaluate your results. What is success? 40
  • 41. Typical Personal Character Assessment Questions (3) Questions to assess your personal character: What were your responsibilities at your last job / last project? What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them? Why are you leaving your current job? What interests you about this job? What challenges are you looking for in this position? Why we need to hire you, not someone else? 41
  • 42. The "Salary" Question How to Answer in the Best Way?
  • 43. The "Salary" Question The typical salary question is like this? What salary do you expect? Your answer should demonstrate that your work is more important than the payment Examples of possible answers: I dont care about the payment. I want to work at the company for long-term and I believe that if my results are good I will be paid accordingly. I understand that I have to learn a lot. Thus now I think I could start with a salary of XXX leva and in a year I expect to become more skillful and get a pay rise of YYY (or be fired if I dont meet your expectations). 43
  • 44. The "Salary" Question (2) You always talk about a net salary (after all the taxes are deducted) for a full-time job (8 hours) Some candidates will say: I dont know what salary to expect. Please make an offer for me. Some companies have a policy for this case: You will be a junior developer (trainee). For this position our salary range is from XXX to YYY leva. Most companies will force you to say a certain number and you should say something – be ready! 44
  • 45. The "Salary" Question (3) Typical net salaryranges (Sofia, January 2012) for full-time software engineer jobs:  Junior .NET / Java developer – 900-1300 leva  Junior PHP / Web site developer – 600-900 leva  Junior QA engineer – 600-900 leva  Junior support officer – 400-700 leva  Junior system administrator – 600-900 leva After a 1-1.5 years you could expect twice Senior developer (4-5 years) – 2000-3000 leva 45
  • 46. Typical Mistakes andHow to Avoid Them?One Wrong Word Could Spoil the Deal!
  • 47. Typical Mistakes Never say bad words about former employers, colleagues, etc. (don’t hate anyone)  Always be positive! Typical "catch-you" question Did you have colleagues or classmates who you cant stand? What were they? Why you cant stand them? Possible nice answer: Generally I can stand anyone. I dont like too much XXX kind of people but if I need to work in a team with such colleagues I will defenitely find a way. 47
  • 48. Typical Mistakes Generally all kinds of inadequate claims or pretentions are evil  Requesting too high salary, too high position, too short work-time (less than 8 hours / day) Being negative about something or someone  Be positive, be successful, be skillful, be professional, dont blame somebody else! You should demonstrate high motivation to work hard for long-term  Anything confirming the opposite is harmful 48
  • 49. Typical Mistakes (2) Requesting too high salary This is my first job and I want to start with 1800 leva net salary because I am very smart and experienced. Requesting too high position for a start I want to start a job at some management position because I have graduated University in UK. You should always show willingness to work for a long-term I will work in your company for few months and will go abroad for a better job after I get some experience. 49
  • 50. Typical Mistakes (3) Putting university / exams as your first priority I want to start working but my University education is my first priority. Thus I will be unable to come at work each Tuesday and each Wednesday and when I have tests, exams and projects. You could say the same in a better way My first priority is my job. In the same time I have some commitments in the University but I am flexible to do my best to move them out of working time. Sometimes (e.g. once monthly) I will have to take tests / exams in the University and I hope we could find a way to avoid harmful consequences for my projects at work due to my eventual absence. Do you think this would be possible? 50
  • 51. Other HintsDo not Come Late, Usual Dressing, …
  • 52. Other Hints Be sure to come exactly at the appointed time  Not earlier, not later!  Eventually come 5 minutes ahead Dressing code  Be sure to come with clean dresses and shoes  Dress yourself in your everyday style  Software engineers do not need to wear a suit If you are nervous, train for the interview 52
  • 53. Recommended BooksHow to Answer Hard Interview Questions,Charlie Gibbs, 2nd Revised edition, 2009,ISBN: 1845283732http://www.amazon.com/dp/1845283732Programming Interviews Exposed:Secrets to Landing Your Next Job , JohnMongan, Wrox, 2006, ISBN: 0935713425http://www.amazon.com/dp/0935713425 53
  • 54. Interview for Software Engeneer курсове и уроци по програмиране, уеб дизайн – безплатно BG Coder - онлайн състезателна система - online judge курсове и уроци по програмиране – Телерик академия форум програмиране, форум уеб дизайн уроци по програмиране и уеб дизайн за ученици ASP.NET курс - уеб програмиране, бази данни, C#, .NET, ASP.NET http://academy.telerik.com програмиране за деца – безплатни курсове и уроци ASP.NET MVC курс – HTML, SQL, C#, .NET, ASP.NET MVC безплатен SEO курс - оптимизация за търсачки алго академия – състезателно програмиране, състезаниякурсове и уроци по програмиране, книги – безплатно от Наков курс мобилни приложения с iPhone, Android, WP7, PhoneGap уроци по уеб дизайн, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Photoshop Дончо Минков - сайт за програмиране free C# book, безплатна книга C#, книга Java, книга C# Николай Костов - блог за програмиране безплатен курс "Качествен програмен код" безплатен курс "Разработка на софтуер в cloud среда" C# курс, програмиране, безплатно
  • 55. Homework1. Read the recommended IT interviews book  Find and read IT interview web sites in Internet2. Practice for a sample interview with friends  Imagine you have applied for a certain job position in certain company  Prepare for the interview following our guidelines  Try to play the "interviewer" role  Try to play the "candidate" role 55
  • 56. Homework (2)3. Try to go to few interviews (just for practicing)  Find in Internet a job opening related to you skills and interests, prepare and submit a job application  Choose a small company where you dont want really to work (some day)  Never say to the interviewer you are just practicing, just for fun  Practicing interview will reduce your stress, will increase your self-confidence and gain experience 56
  • 57. Free Trainings @ Telerik Academy Starting an IT Job seminar  academy.telerik.com/ seminars/it-job-interview Telerik Software Academy  academy.telerik.com Telerik Academy @ Facebook  facebook.com/TelerikAcademy Telerik Software Academy Forums  forums.academy.telerik.com
  • 58. Thank You!

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