a technical interview

What Is a Technical Interview?

what is a technical interview

Summary: A technical interview is often part of the hiring process when applying for a science, engineering, or IT job. Learn more about how to prepare for a technical interview so that you can best showcase your skills and talent.

Why Are Technical Interviews Important?

Suppose you are interviewing for a science, engineering, or IT job. In that case, chances are the employer will have a set of questions or an interview with technical team members that address specific job-related tasks. Technical interviews allow employers to assess a candidate’s critical thinking, technical knowledge, communication, and problem-solving skills. The employer may pose a technical work-related scenario and ask you to apply your engineering, IT, or scientific expertise to solve it. 

These types of interviews help the employer assess your readiness for specific job tasks. The interview may be conducted face-to-face, over the phone, via video chat, or through other digital platforms.

What kind of questions may be included in a technical interview?

What kind of questions may be included in a technical interview

Before an interview, an employer might require an online or written assessment to identify the depth of your knowledge. This helps vet candidates for a specific role that requires more in-depth technical skillsets. Interviewers may also pose technical problems, brainteasers, or numerical reasoning problems that candidates must solve during the interview.

The technical questions typically relate directly to the job role and specify essential skills included in the job description. Be prepared to explain your approach and how you reasoned through the problem. For example, in an IT technical interview, the employer may give you a set of data and ask you to analyze or predict data trends and how you arrived at your response. 

How to Prepare for a Technical Interview

Here’s a quick checklist to cover the essentials:

  1. Start by reviewing the job description.
  2. Review and write down skills and qualifications you can showcase during your interview, and refresh your knowledge about any areas mentioned in the job description that may be less familiar.
  3. Consider your approach to solving technical problems and explain it aloud—employers want to know your reasoning process.
  4. Practice your answers to basic interview questions to prepare for general and technical interview questions.

For more tips on prep, you can review these online resources from Yale University. 

Spotlight Your Transferable Skills

Spotlight Your Transferable Skills

A technical interview isn’t just about assessing your technical knowledge, it also evaluates how you interact with people and what contributions you’ll bring to the team. Transferable skills like communication and collaboration are essential in any workplace. Many IT, engineering, and scientific tasks are completed in team or group project settings. Be prepared to describe a situation where you worked in a team setting and how your team or group encountered and resolved typical challenges. 

Do Your Homework

Do Your Homework

Preparation is the key to success in any job interview. The more prepared you are, the more confidence you’ll have during the interview. Extra prep for the interview might be talking with other professionals doing the same type of job you are applying for or researching the company and finding out more about its mission or philosophy, as well as major projects and clients.

If you get a question you don’t know how to answer during the interview, ask clarifying questions until you have enough context to respond satisfactorily. Try to answer every question to the best of your ability. Think about similar work or educational challenges where you overcame and accomplished your goals and be prepared to share them—it’s your time to showcase your personality, logic, knowledge, and creativity!

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