Phone and non-technical interviews tend to focus on company culture, the ability to work in a team, and problem-solving skills, making them difficult to prepare for and predict. So, here are our tips for developers to succeed at both phone and non-technical interviews.
1. Do your homework
Learn as much as you can about the company and the role you applied for and try to get an understanding of their culture. This will give you clues as to what the company is expecting from you, and can shape the way you present yourself.
Find out who is going to be interviewing you. Knowing the role of the person who will interview you will give you key insights as to the kind of questions you can expect. Check out their LinkedIn profile, see where they worked before and try to read articles they have written.
Decide what you will wear to the interview ahead of time. The best way to see what style is most appropriate is to check employee pictures on the company’s website. Most startups are casual, so it’s fine not to dress up!
2. Phone interviews
For interviews over the phone, you may not think about the need to dress up. However, wearing an appropriate work outfit can help you get into the right mindset for your interview, even if you won’t be seen. Also, there is a slight chance that the interviewer may request to switch things up last minute and ask to Skype you.
Having your phone fully charged is also a great idea because most interviews last forty-five minutes or more. You don’t want to be worried about your phone dying during your interview.
Lastly, the fact that you will not be able to see the interviewer and that they will not be able to see you will directly affect how you can communicate. Be sure to speak clearly and deliberately in order to be understood. Anticipate having trouble hearing and understand the interviewer, especially if they have an accent. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat something if it is not clear.
Having your phone set to loudspeaker may be more comfortable for you, but may make it more difficult to understand the person on the other end. Also be sure to alert anyone that you are living with what time you will have the interview and to avoid loud noises including using the smoothie mixer and washing machine. This will only make it harder for the interviewer to hear you and can easily distract you.
Companies don’t just want you for your technical skills. They want a motivated employee who will fit into the company vision and way of doing things. Consider what makes you want to work for this company and contribute to its success. Also, ponder how your personal interests align with company values.
To better understand the company’s future goals, check out their current projects, their “About Page”, Crunchbase, LinkedIn and other social sites. Doing this allows you to see what they value and consider important. Mention which of their projects appealed to you during your interview.
4. Strengths and weaknesses
Bragging about yourself is a necessary part of the interview process. While no-one is perfect, you have got to be the one to really highlight what you are capable of and what you have already accomplished. If you don’t do it, who will?
And you can bet that other applicants are doing their best to convince the company to hire them by inflating past achievements. Knowing what makes you uniquely qualified for the position will allow you to accurately and honestly describe what a great addition you would make to the company. Think about your strengths in advance and don’t be afraid to present them.
When asked to describe a weakness, craft your answer carefully. You want to show honest self-reflection while pointing out steps you have taken to rectify or improve current shortcomings.
5. Self-reflection, current projects and experience
If you already have a job, use projects that you are already working on to outline what experience you have. Think about how you have dealt with and overcome challenges in your current position.
If you aren’t currently working, take time to consider what past projects or achievements have shaped your work ethic. Consider how you would use this experience to improve the company you are applying for.
For non-technical interviews, try to explain your role in these projects and the team setup. Rather than focusing on technical implementation, draw out how the feature impacted the business through key metrics, like conversion rates, sessions, or other such metrics.
Be ready to describe how you work. Companies expect you to be able to work in a team, so have a few examples prepared of times that you successfully accomplished a group project.
Initiative is attractive to companies because it shows independence and someone who is invested in what they do. Explaining situations where you took the initiative and where you dealt with difficult tasks, will give the interviewer an idea of how you might fit in with their company.
7. Use examples
Every candidate will proclaim that they are hard-working and the right fit for the position. Solid examples from your past experience is a great way to stand out and prove that what you say about yourself is true. Think of examples that underline your skills and past experiences. Expect your claims to be challenged, and be ready to back them up!
8. Be curious - ask questions!
Prepare some questions for the interviewers - be curious about the company and the team, as well as the position. Show them that you understand the role, are eager to learn more and excited to contribute to the team and company’s success.
When asked if you would like to ask the company something, never say no! This is a sure way of coming across uninterested or lazy to the interviewer. However, don’t just ask any question, think about something that you couldn’t easily find on their website.
Feel free to ask questions like, how do you see me fitting into the role? What are the future plans for growth for the company? What are the biggest challenges you face and how can I help? Personality over perfection
Preparation is key but having a positive attitude and being open to new challenges is also crucial. If you don’t know an answer right away, demonstrate how you would go about finding a solution, while explaining your approach. This will define your character and show self-confidence.
Good luck with your next interview!