Tech interview questions

Technology is always developing, meaning your skills should be too…

Tech-based interviews are a great way for employers to test how good your tech-related knowledge is. Not only are they looking for people with skills relevant to their industry, they also want you to be able to use your insight to take advantage of market trends.

To help inspire you, here are five of our favourite tech interview questions courtesy of the latest edition of James Reed’s bestselling book, ‘Why You: 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again’, and our advice on how to answer them:

 

How do you keep up with technology in this industry?

In other words, how current is your knowledge – and can you keep up with the latest trends, tools, and technologies?

If you’re asked this question at an interview, it means the employer is looking for someone who’s willing to put the effort in to stay ahead of the curve. Having the essential skills and experience is good. But it won’t mean anything if you aren’t able to develop what you know.

So, the key to answering it effectively comes down to two things; your up-to-date knowledge, and your ability to keep it that way.

Show how you can bring value to the business by preparing a list of examples before the interview. Then, use them to talk about (relevant) topics you’ve learnt about recently – whether it was by reading industry blogs or attending events.

Remember: specific details will do wonders for your credibility. Exaggeration will not.

Right answer: ‘I follow all the usual industry blogs, like Hubspot and eConsultancy, but I really find that the best way to keep my skills up-to-date is by attending industry events. I recently went to a talk about how digital marketers could implement VR technology into their future marketing strategies. The concept of being able to place consumers in an environment where they actually experience the post-purchasing world has huge potential to drive sale conversion’

Wrong answer: ‘When it comes to tech, I’m a big fan of the classics. You can’t beat a bit of Windows 95, can you?’

 

Tell me about the biggest technical challenge you’ve come up against

Aside from testing whether you have problem solving skills, this interview favourite (in true competency question fashion) also asks you to prove it.

The good news is, answering it should be relatively straightforward. Pick an example that demonstrates your skill level accurately (and is relevant to the role), and talk through how you solved it using the tried and tested STAR technique.

This could be an unexpected challenge, something you volunteered to take on, or a task that was included as part of a previous position. If in doubt, always remember that the way you explain it matters more than the example itself.

In other words, context is everything.

Right answer: ‘During a recent website release, it became apparent thatour submission form had broken and we weren’t receiving any responses. I was asked to urgently resolve this issue and was able to identify, debug, and release a hotfix within two hours, minimising impact on leads and revenue’

Wrong answer: ‘Picking between Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle’

Five key competency questions: revealed

 

How would you improve our website/app?

Flattery won’t get you anywhere with this question – but constructive criticism will.

Provide the latter, and you’ll show your ability to come up with creative ideas and solutions – giving the interviewer an example of the kind of insight you could bring to the business.

Approach this question with caution though. Small, quick wins are your friends – but a complete brand overhaul might have the interviewer wondering whether you’re a candidate or a competitor.

To answer this question well, you need to be prepared. Do your research to determine what the company does well, figure out potential improvements, and come up with your recommendations.

Then, think of similar ideas that had positive results in other areas of your career. This will show the interviewer you can actually deliver value with your plans.

Because nobody wants to employ someone who’s all talk.

Right answer: ‘When I was browsing the site, I noticed that there’s no interlinking between the cookery book and kitchen utensil product pages. In my previous position, we had a similar issue where the hiking and waterproof sections shared no digital relationship. I recommended cross-merchandising them to increase the average order value – which it did by 25%. As items in both categories complement each other, I think implementing the same approach would be beneficial’

Wrong answer: ‘I’d put my name all over it’

 

If you were a tech brand, which one would you be and why?

AKA the part-curveball-part-character question that’s designed to catch you off guard.

Of course, the employer could just ask how your values line up with their business (which is essentially what this question looks for), but that would be too easy. And the added layer of complexity is exactly what’s needed to keep you on your feet.

Although interviewers will usually focus on your reasoning rather than the brand you choose, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Try to pick an industry leading brand, and avoid anything outdated or obsolete – staying away from brands with controversial or negative connotations.

Then, make sure you back up your answer with some well-thought-out character traits that link back to the brand. Don’t forget to research the company’s values beforehand though.

The last thing you want to do is refer to a brand with totally different ideals.

Right answer: ‘I would be Amazon, because I put customer service at the centre of everything I do. I always deliver on time and I’m an early adopter – oh, and I’m prepared to swallow the odd unfavourable review’

Wrong answer: ‘You?’

 

How would you explain a database to an eight-year-old in three sentences?

This question does more than just test your creativity under pressure.

It focuses on your ability to simplify complex terms (whether it’s ‘database’ or any other concept relevant to your industry), which is an especially valuable skill in an age where digital lexicon can seem like another language to outsiders.

Whether you’re working with colleagues or customers, clear communication is the key to getting the job done in the most efficient way possible – so it’s no surprise that someone who can turn complicated ideas into easy-to-grasp concepts is in high demand.

The most important thing to remember when answering this question is that the interviewer isn’t testing you on the information itself – they’re testing you on your ability to summarise it.

Right answer: ‘A database is like a toy box, except that the toys are data instead. When you’ve finished playing with your toys, you put them away neatly so you can find them easily the next time you want to play with them. In this way, your toy box is your database, grouping all the different types of toys in a sensible order – so you can quickly find them again’

Wrong answer: ‘Make it ten and you have a deal’

IT interview questions

Difficult interview questions and answers

 

Looking for more interview advice?

Not sure any of these questions will come up? Don’t panic. We’ve got plenty more…

Find out the answers to:

 

‘What’s your favourite piece of software that you use to help you do your job and why?’

‘How do you manage remote working relationships?’

‘What will tech do for us in the future?’

 

…and many more by buying James Reed’s book: Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again – which now features 10 brand new tech questions.

 

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