5 Common Mistakes Made During Technical Interviews and Tips to Avoid

5 Common Mistakes Made During Technical Interviews and Tips to Avoid

A common belief that applicants hold when preparing for a technical interview is that their knowledge of, and experience with the technology at hand is the most significant factor in determining whether they land the role.

On one level this kind of logic makes sense. After all, these roles are centered around a highly specialized skill-set, so as long as you have the relevant technical skills and experience and you can demonstrate your technical know-how during the interview, you’re bound to ace it. Right?

Don’t be so sure.

The fact is that we often see strong technical resources rejected following their interview despite checking all the right boxes in terms of technical skills and experience. By placing all of their emphasis on the technical, they end up underprepared for the other questions they will be asked while inadvertently overlooking a number of skills that are just as important to the hiring manager as the technical.


Most common reasons candidate is rejected:

  1. Unable to articulate the purpose of the project or its value to the business —
    Not only does the hiring manager want to ensure that you have the requisite technical expertise, they also want a candidate who understands the value their role will contribute to both the project and to the business of the organization as a whole.
  2. Struggles with behavioural-based questions —
    If you can count on being asked anything during an interview, it’s a behavioural-based question. They are favourites of interviewers since they provide insight into how a candidate is likely to respond to typical workplace scenarios. These can also be the most challenging to answer adequately, particularly when under prepared.
  3. Unable to answer technical questions clearly —
    It’s one thing to be able to code or configure; it’s an altogether different thing to articulate these tasks succinctly. It’s this very disconnect where most technical interviewees falter. When presented with a technical question, keep your answers clear and concise with a focus on details that actually answer the question at hand.
  4. Did not demonstrate passion to research and learn new things —
    Not only does the Hiring Manager want to know what you can do, they also want to know your approach when you encounter something you don’t know how to deal with. A candidate’s willingness to take initiative and do the necessary online research to find answers when they’re stuck at work only makes them a more valuable resource. This point can be further emphasized by mentioning any side projects you’ve been engaged in and expressing your passion to learn and play with new technologies.
  5. Did not come across as a team player —
    Whether realizing senior management’s vision or working in tandem with other developers, the nature of an organization is one of collaboration. No matter how specialized your expertise, the degree to which you are willing and able to collaborate will make you a far more appealing candidate than someone who seeks only to operate independently.


We’ve covered the pitfalls, but how exactly does a technical resource prepare for their interview, beyond merely brushing up on their tech skills? Let’s break it down.


How to prepare for your technical interview:

  1. Prepare a summary of the project purpose of two recent assignments —
    This speaks specifically to how the projects you’ve recently worked on contributed value to the business as a whole. How did your part fit into the larger project scope, and in turn, how did the project contribute to the big picture?
  1. Provide succinct responses to technical questions —
    Often, we are inclined to pick a keyword from the question and provide a brain-dump of everything we know about that keyword. The results can be mixed at best. A better approach is to practice active listening, seeking to understand what you are being asked in order to provide a targeted response. The key here is to listen first and speak later.
  1. Prepare 2 stories to answer behavioral-based questions —
    Preparing for these is crucial, even in a technical interview where team-fit and attitude are just as important as your technical competence.

Here are some of the most common behaviour-based questions you’ll get during a technical interview:

  • Tell me about a situation when you had a conflict at work and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a situation when you were not in agreement with your manager.
  • How do you take feedback?
  • Tell me about a situation when you were given a business requirement that wasn’t technically feasible. How did you handle it?
  • What do you do when you are not able to deliver on time?

These can be tricky questions for anyone to answer–that’s why we’ve already done the legwork for you.

  1. Mention any personal projects you are working on —
    Look for an opportunity to convey your interest in researching and trying new technologies. This will show that you have your finger on the pulse of advancements which can potentially benefit the business, while demonstrating your willingness to take initiative when technical problem solving is required.
  1. If you are unfamiliar with a technology or concept that is brought up, don’t fake it —
    Much like exaggerating an achievement, acting as though you have knowledge or experience that you do not is never a good idea. A far more graceful way to handle such a scenario is by acknowledging that while you haven’t had the opportunity to work with the technology just yet, you’d be happy to share whatever understanding you have of the concept. This is a safer and more honest approach than trying to speculate an answer that lies outside of your grasp.


Next Steps?

Need help preparing for your next technical interview? ProViso Consulting is a professional staffing agency ,here to support your career success! Our expert team can help guide you through the interview preparation process for any of our job listings. View IT jobs in Toronto now.

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