How To Nail An Interview In Software Engineering

  This post is brought to you by Gillette. Learn more about Gillette and its products at Gillette.com.

kid on computer

Photo: Jeramey Jannene via Flickr

Your ultimate dream is to create new technologies for companies like Google and Facebook.You can write codes in your sleep. Solving complex maths problems is your idea of fun.

In short, you are a software engineer.

Before you can dazzle companies with your ideas, the first step is to make it through the job interview.

Unfortunately, getting a job at these companies is notoriously hard.

The good news is there are concrete ways you can prepare for your interview so you can tackle it with ease.

Learn as much as you can about the company and the position.

Cram as much information about the company and the job you are applying for into your head.

Having an extensive background knowledge shows the hiring manager that you are interested in the position and value his or her time.

Study the company's products, competitors, and recent news coverage. Compile a list of important facts about the company's revenues, new product releases, and annual data reports. Understand the structure of the company's management.

Lock in the fundamentals and be prepared for surprises.

You can be certain the interview will centre around problem solving using algorithms and data structures.

Crack open your text books and review the basics. Also, be prepared to solve unusual puzzles. Google and Microsoft are renowned for lobbing strange questions at their candidates. Check out 15 Google interview questions such as, 'Why are manhole covers round?' here. Click here for the answers.

Also, here are 10 Famous Microsoft Interview Puzzles and questions that were asked by interviewers at Facebook.

Mimic the interview process.

Ask your recruiter about the format of the interview and any coding questions. If the company gives the candidates an hour alone in a room with an editor and no compiler, practice that at home, says Niniane Wang, a former engineering manager at Microsoft and Google.

If you are expected to solve problems on a whiteboard with an interviewer watching you, ask a friend to be your mock interviewer.

Even if the friend is a less experienced engineer than you, he or she will still bring out your nervousness about making mistakes in front of others, so you can practice getting used to that.

Practice explaining your answers out loud.

In addition to solving problems, prepare yourself for explaining your answers out loud with the interviewer.

'Talk a lot: I don't mean be annoying and just babbling, but speak your mind as you grind down into an algorithm or a problem,' says a blogger at Status: Gwned. 'This shows a thought process and gives clues to the interviewer about your skills and personality.'

Be prepared to talk about your background and relevant job experiences, but don't ramble.

'Wherever you are in your career, remember that employers want to know what skills you bring and how you will help their businesses,' says CareerBuilder writer Anthony Balderrama.

'Employers don't care that you're the youngest of three children and played the bassoon in junior high. This personal information might naturally come out during conversation, but it's not what you want to lead with.'

Keep your answers brief. Also, remember that your interviewer has specific questions that he or she needs to get through. 'If you hijack the interview, they may not have enough data from their own questions to be able to endorse your hiring,' warns Niniane Wang, a former engineering manager at Google and Microsoft.

Show your passion for coding.

Prove that you're the right person for the job by showing your interviewer how much you love coding and creating new programs.

'The number one thing I look at on resumes is extra-curricular coding activities,' says former Google engineer Paul Tyma.

'I want to hire engineers that I want work with. And those engineers are passionate about cool algorithms, slick code, and new ideas. They do that stuff in their spare time - its not just a job, its what they do because they love it.'

Dress professionally.

When in doubt, it is always best to err on the side of professionalism.

Generally, men should be clean-shaven and wear a nice suit and shoes; women should look well put together and not skimp on hosiery.

Expect a long interview process.

If you make it past the initial screening, which is typically done over the phone, expect to meet with several engineers and managers at face-to-face meetings.

The entire hiring process may take several weeks and you may be asked to come back more than once, warn recruiters.

During the interview, don't obsess over your mistakes.

If you completely bomb one question, don't let it affect the rest of your interview. Many interviewers ask you multiple questions and will often forgive a single mishap.

When things don't go well, just keep at it and don't give up hope.

Here's what it takes to get a job interview at Google:

NOW WATCH: Ideas videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.