Common Types of Interviews
Before heading into a job interview, you might feel nervous/anxious about what’s to come. This might be especially true if this is your first job interview ever or if it’s your first job interview in a while.
When applying for Computer Science/Software Development related jobs, you’re going to find different types of interviews. Some of them are similar in format; however, they can have other names depending on the company.
And of course, different companies, and in some cases, teams inside the same company, have a different set of interviews that they want to cover before considering extending you an offer.
There is plenty of debate about what type of interview is best, depending on each case. However, there is no standard across the board. So it’s important to understand the interview pipeline and types of interviews of the companies to make the best of your interview preparation.
Whatever the case, mock interviews provide a way to practice different types of interviews and get feedback about areas you might need to focus on during your interview preparation.
Types of Interviews
These are some types of interviews for Software Engineering/Software Development roles that you might encounter. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
1. Technical/CS Fundamentals Interviews:
In this type of interview, the interviewer is trying to determine if you have a clear understanding of programming fundamentals. From an interviewer’s point of view, they’re trying to establish if you can design, write and test code, but also how you approach a problem and see how you break down the problem into smaller pieces.
However, a good technical interview can help uncover more than that. It can also be a place to check:
- How do you work with others?
- How open are you to receiving feedback?
- Identify what other aspects outside of the task at hand do you bring to the table (for example, are you concerned about scalability/input validation/among others).
There are different types of interviews in this area covered in the link below.
2. Behavioral Interviews
The idea of this type of interview is to understand how you would act in specific job-related/employment-related situations, using past experiences as a reference/predictor of future performance in similar situations.
The questions asked can vary depending on the role you’re applying to. For example, if it’s a Tech Lead role or Management role, the situations might be more focused on management/leadership topics than for individual contributor roles.
Examples of behavioral type questions include:
- Tell me about a time where you made a mistake in a previous project/job.
- Describe a situation where you had to complete a task/goal, and you could achieve it.
- Give me an example of a time when you disagreed with a manager/tech lead.
- Tell me about a time when you had to provide constructive feedback to a team member.
For this type of question, it is good to practice the STAR model/format.
In general, they are between 45-60 mins long.
3. Past Experience / CV Review
In a “CV Review” type of interview, the interviewer will ask you questions to understand in more detail what you’ve done in previous jobs. If you’re starting your career, you might be asked about University projects, so be prepared to come with examples.
Usually, the interviewer will want to delve into specific topics about your previous experience. For example, if you claim in your CV that you worked in a particular type of system, they’d like to find out if you can explain how that system worked, how it was designed, and how it could have been improved.
This type of interview can go into technical details, management questions and sometimes move into a behavioral type interview. It all depends on the role you’re applying to, the interviewer and the interview pipeline.
CV reviews are seldom a type of interview that is performed on its own; they tend to be used as one portion of an interview and then mixed with one or more of the other types of interview we’re discussing in this blog post. However, as you gain more seniority and more experience, there might be enough topics to discuss for this to be a full interview.
For example, when mixed with other types of interviews, an interviewer might ask about your CV/past experience during the introductory part of the interview (usually 5-10 minutes) and then move, for example, into a technical problem solving interview.
4. Assessment centers
Assessment centers vary by company and are in general used for graduate/entry-level jobs.
They tend to involve various tests during a simulated day of work. There will be multiple candidates being evaluated at the same time as you. There will be specific tests done during the day (for example, programming tests for Software Developer roles are to be expected).
Once you arrive at an assessment center, the organizers will provide you with the specific schedule for the day and give a presentation with the general details of the day.
There will be company employees with assigned roles during the day; for example, there might be one person assigned to help resolve doubts that you might have about the tests. And another person checking how they see candidates performing during the simulated day of work.
In general, they can last 4-8 hours; however, some can last more than one workday.