W. P. Carey Alumni Share 8 Tips for Preparing for Technical Job Interviews

We asked W. P. Carey Alumni: What advice do you have for preparing for technical job interviews?

Here is what they shared:

  • Showcase Your Thought Process
  • Study and Utilize Resources
  • Research and Demonstrate Attitude
  • Use Resources, Find Answers
  • Communicate Technical Documentation
  • Practice Closing, Address Concerns
  • Master Time-Constrained Problem-Solving
  • Seek Clarity and Be Honest

Showcase Your Thought Process

How you approach a technical question is just as important as arriving at a working solution. Interviewers need to evaluate your breadth and depth of skills in a brief window. Take every opportunity to showcase your abilities and experience by talking through your thought process.

Communicating how you identify problem constraints and evaluate trade-offs is a great way to impress an interviewer and ensure that you’re on the same page. This communication provides opportunities to display skills and experiences that may apply to the role, but are not perfect for the current technical question.

Talking through your thought process in real-time can also foster collaborative discussion, providing better insight into what it would be like to work with an interviewer in the future.

Demetrius Shargani, BS, Computer Science ‘17, and MBA, ‘21,  Staff Software Engineer, Pinwheel

Study and Utilize Resources

If your interview will focus on a technology that you aren’t intimately familiar with, the best thing you can do is study! 

Besides equipping you to answer any specific use-case questions your interviewer will have, having a solid understanding of the technology concepts in question will prepare you to think on your feet and feel more confident in your responses.

If you have professional connections who are well-versed in the technology, consider asking them to conduct a mock interview and provide you with feedback on where you can improve. If not, there are several great online resources at your disposal. 

Consider a short online course from Udemy, Pluralsight, or LinkedIn Learning to brush up on the subject matter. Or, peruse user posts on the subject at a site like Stack Exchange to get insight into the questions (and answers) that are top of mind for other technologists.

Wendy Nugent, BS, Marketing, Sr. Manager, Product Management, Choice Hotels

Research and Demonstrate Aptitude

Every technical interview and interviewer is different, so do some homework. Ask human resources and talk to recent hires or other candidates to gain insight into the types of questions being asked and the level of detail expected in your answers. 

And relax, if you’re new to the workforce, your technical expertise most likely will not be a perfect match against the job requirements. So focus on what you know and draw parallels when being asked about a specific problem or technology. 

A smart employer values attitude and aptitude over proven talent. They know the right attitude more often results in the employee learning and applying newly-acquired knowledge to solve problems. As technology continues to advance at an ever-increasing rate, these traits will only grow in value over time. Show the interviewer your value and choose to be great!

Dennis Kost, BS, Computer Information Systems, IT Director, Supply Chain Enablement, Lakeshore Learning Materials

Use Resources, Find Answers

Don’t be afraid to ask what resources you can use! Ask if you can use Google search, Stack Overflow, or any other technical resource. When giving answers to a technical survey, I care more that the candidate can get the right answer, not that they have syntax memorized. 

Even slight syntax mistakes won’t be heavily penalized, but if you can find the answer via search, then that’s just as good!

Jon Utz, BS, Finance ‘19, Sr. Manager, Customer Experience Analytics, Coinbase

Communicate Technical Documentation

In an interview, being able to communicate one’s understanding of technical documentation is imperative, as it can demonstrate an individual’s technical skills and ability to effectively communicate complex information.

Most technical projects are converting to an agile development mindset, which is fast-paced. It is common for projects to have gaps in documentation, and by being able to communicate your understanding of the importance of technical documentation as well as how you would tackle the creation and maintenance of documentation in parallel with development would absolutely help you stand out! 

An audit today of 50%+ of projects would display documentation gaps.

Edward Pinela III,, MBA ‘17, Founder and CEO, Lightray Solutions

Master Time-Constrained Problem-Solving

A solid tip I was once given is to practice problem-solving under time constraints. A common interview practice in technical interviews, this technique allows you to be more efficient and confident in the interview process. 

Research common time limits and problems for your area of expertise and then simulate real interview conditions by setting a timer while working on coding problems. The dual benefit is to improve your skills but also to get you comfortable with what you can accomplish during the specified time limits.

You will learn paths that don’t work, and your experience will make you more adaptable and better prepared to tackle a variety of problems in a limited timeframe.

Dustin Sitar, MBA, Finance, General ‘19, Managing Editor, The Groom Club

Seek Clarity and Be Honest

Ask clarifying questions. Assume nothing unless the interviewer asks you to. If there are multiple ways to answer the same question (for example, the fastest vs most efficient way to do something), provide all possible answers. And finally, be honest and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, but I can learn” if you do not know the answer.

Shripathi Krishnan, MBA, International Management ‘09, Vice President, Head of IT Software Development, Blue Yonder

Practice Closing, Address Concerns

Congrats! You landed your dream interview. All of your hard work, long hours of study, and internships have paid off. 

In addition to thoroughly preparing for your interview, remember to practice your “close.” Do I have your recommendation for the position? Based on our conversation today, do you feel I am a good fit for the role? Be sure to ask with enough time left in the conversation so you can address any concerns your interviewer or panel might raise. Good luck! 

Tiffany Johnson, MBA, BS Economics, and BS Management ‘06, Chief Product Officer, NMI

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By W. P. Carey Career Services Center
W. P. Carey Career Services Center