17 July 2019

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First Ever Interview at a Tech Company? These Four Tips Will Help You Expect the Unexpected

"Whether you’re interviewing for a customer service or product role, interviewing at a tech company is a whole new kettle of fish. These tips will help you approach the big day with confidence..."

In a tech company... (Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash)
If you’ve never interviewed at a tech company before, expect something quite different to your usual corporate interview. How is a tech-interview different? Hard to say exactly, but don't be thrown off balance when your interviewer lobs a slice of pizza at you while riding past on a Segway towards the beanbags you’ll be expected to sit on.

While ‘prepare for the unexpected’ is ultimately what preparing for a tech interview boils down to, these tips will help you control the things you can.

Know Your Stuff

Loads of people apply for jobs at tech companies because they want to get a foot in the door at any tech company in the hopes of working for Google or Facebook one day. Tech companies don’t want to hire those people. They want to hire people who want to work for them specifically. Knowing the company’s values inside out is a great way to demonstrate that you’re here for what they do. Come ready to show that you’ve done your homework to understand what makes this company unique, and that you are fully on-board with the company’s vision.

Arbitrary Questions

Don’t be surprised if your interviewer pauses their deep-dive in your CV to look up and ask you what T.V shows you like. No, T.V has nothing to do with your work history or the role you’re applying for. So, no: it doesn’t matter what answer you give. What matters is that you say something that gives your interviewer a glimpse of your personality. Surprise, surprise: the best answer is usually the truth! Tech companies are also infamous askers of weird and kind of enigmatic questions, so don’t be caught off guard if you’re asked what you think of garden gnomes…

Don’t Lie

Tech company interviews have broken the form of the interview in many ways, but one stands out above the rest because it can be very jarring. In a normal corporate interview, there is an unspoken rule that even if an interview suspects you don’t have all the experience you claim to have, they’re not going to show you up. You probably won’t get that job, but you’ll be non-the-wiser as to why you never heard back.

In an interview at a tech company, your interviewer might look at your CV and unexpectedly test you on your knowledge. This is because tech companies want to hire the best people for the job. They really want to know what you can and can’t do. Don’t fluff your CV. Be honest when quizzed if your knowledge isn’t fully up to scratch. That’s not to say that you should go into the interview announcing that you don’t know how to open rar files on Mac, or come clean about any other tech know-how you don’t have, but when you get into territory you’re unsure about, just admit that your knowledge is lacking, and show willing to learn.

Top view photo of 3 men in front of laptop (Photo by Visual Tag Mx from Pexels)

Casual Dress Code

Most tech companies don’t require their staff to wear formal business attire, so it’s unwise to dress too formally for your interview. A good rule of thumb is to dress more formally than your average tech worker on a regular day at work, but more casually than you’d dress for a corporate interview. When in doubt, dress like you’re going out for a nice brunch.

Whether you’re interviewing for a customer service or product role, interviewing at a tech company is a whole new kettle of fish. These tips will help you approach the big day with confidence.

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