Everyone has a dream of what their ideal software engineering job would be. For some, it’s working from home and having a healthy work-life balance. For others, it’s about being stimulated by continually learning new technologies.
Whether it’s curiosity, passion, recognition or even money, what drives you will shape this image of the perfect career and the perfect opportunity.
Software engineer interviews
But software engineering interviews can be nerve-racking – you’re given one chance to make a great impression and convince everyone you’re the right person for the job. No one likes being in a position where they are being judged. Even though we know we should just “be ourselves”, the situation generally feels awkward.
One of the mistakes we sometimes make during a software developer interview is missing the opportunity to demonstrate our social skills. Instead, we put all the focus on showing off our credentials or programming knowledge to compensate for the feeling of discomfort we are facing.
The good news is it’s completely possible to learn and practise the set of social skills always needed and sought after by employers. Knowing how to demonstrate them during an interview can drastically tip the balance in your favour!
So here are 5 important skills to show in an interview that can help you nail your dream job.
1. The right level of confidence
True confidence is a bit mysterious. On a day-to-day level, we all have our ups and downs. So how can we assure ourselves that we are not coming across as arrogant or overconfident while, at the same time, getting our point across during the developer interview?
Confidence transpires in non-verbal communication. With some practice of self-awareness, it’s possible to control our body language and learn how to give the correct impression.
Filming yourself while answering basic interview questions can give you great pointers on how your body reacts under stress and allows you to recondition yourself.
2. Great communication skills
Whatever the position you are after, great communication skills will always guarantee you’ll earn the trust of your co-workers and management.
There are many reasons why good communicators are precious for a company:
They can be trusted to work on their own because their team knows they will effectively communicate any information or concerns they might have.
They can effectively assist co-workers by answering questions.
A good communicator knows how to listen and adapt to new situations, people and environments.
They easily earn the respect and trust of team members because of their ability to value each person’s point of view.
You don’t need to be an extrovert or a “people person” to be a good communicator. During a developer interview, simply actively listening and fuelling the conversation with relevant questions can make a huge positive impact.
3. Showing empathy
Empathy is the ability to take someone else’s feelings or concerns to heart. A sure way to win someone over during an interview is to take the time to show you understand their need: what they are looking for and why.
Expressing that you can see some of the challenges they are facing, as well as being honest about how you think you could be a right fit for the company, can be a very powerful way to show you care about others and are not just selfishly saying whatever you need to say to get the job.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
— Leo Buscaglia, motivational speaker & writer
4. Team Spirit
Someone who’s a good team member is someone who genuinely cares about the well-being of other members of the team as well as for the team’s objectives and goals.
You don’t need to love working around people to be a good team player. For example, your ideal work environment could be your home office with no one around. But if you take your team’s tasks and objectives seriously and put in the effort to communicate openly and effectively, you’ll be considered a great team member.
It’s always possible to grow and learn to become less self-centred and more open. No one wants to work with someone who only thinks about themselves, so there’s everything to gain in putting some energy into adjusting to others while at the same time keeping healthy boundaries.
“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”
— Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”
5. The ability to show initiative
Taking initiative doesn’t mean stepping on anyone’s toes in terms of directives and decisions, it means having the motivation to go the extra mile. People who take initiative will push themselves to do more than expected in certain situations.
Sometimes, simply initiating an important conversation with a relevant question is a great initiative. Other times, it’s about doing your job just a little bit better, not because someone asked you to, but because it feels good.
A great way to show initiative during a software engineering job interview is to find a moment where your creativity can shine.
Did an idea cross your mind while your interviewer was telling you about the app’s new features? Or maybe you took part in a small side project that was creative in some way? Or maybe you found an elegant solution to a simple problem?
To you, these little ideas and achievements may not seem like much but to an employer, they show your ability to think differently and act on your thoughts.
Your software engineering job awaits!
Investing in yourself will never disappoint you. If you find yourself dreaming about that perfect job, why not take a look at improving some of the social skills mentioned above and put all the chances on your side?