A guide to technical interviews

Posted 2/6/2019 by Georgina Deas

We find technical leaders for the enabling and emerging technology industries, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that many of our candidates face technical interviews. These interviews often take on a different technique to standard interviews, so here are our essential tips for a successful technical interview.

The recruitment process for many of our technology clients often includes 2 or 3 stages: an online technical test, a phone or video interview and a face-to-face interview.


Preparation is Key

Correct preparation for this test can help you to pass with flying colours, so take the following steps before your test:


  • Preparation is key so worth reviewing your previous work and coding books and notes before embarking on this test
  • Ensure you are in a quiet, distraction-free place
  • Ensure you have a strong and reliable internet connection
  • Allocate enough time to complete your test
  • Ensure you have everything you need to hand; including any books or resources you may require
  • Have a cup of tea, coffee, or water ready and relax


Revise your CV

Technical tests and interviews are an assessment of your skills and abilities stated on your CV. It is essential that your CV reflects your true capabilities, as this is very often the basis for the technical test which an employer will set for you. Not telling the truth on your CV, gives the interviewer inaccurate expectations of your skills. If you have listed a skill on your CV, be prepared to talk about this experience in a technical interview.


Use the Job Specification as a Guide to the Technical Test and Interview Content

Employers will, very often, use the job specification that you applied to for structuring their technical interviews and tests. If the job spec stresses a particular set of skills, this will be the focus of the technical questions. If there are certain skills listed as desired but not necessary, but you have it on your CV, be prepared to be asked about it.


Personal Projects

Clients love to see a candidate who is passionate about what they do in and outside of work! If you develop personal games/websites/apps, for instance, bring examples of these to your interview.


Demonstrate your willingness to learn

Technology businesses, especially those which are smaller and more agile, can offer candidates experience across many disciplines. The best candidates are those who are willing to explore, learn, help others and collaborate on other projects. Be sure to give genuine examples of working across teams and apply this to the role you’re interviewing for.


Face-to-Face interview

Face-to-face interviews aren’t about quizzing you to find out how perfect you are. They test you to see what kind of person you are and how you would handle uncertainty or things you haven’t come across before. This is where communication is key.

Engineers often overlook that communication is instrumental in succeeding in a collaborative engineering team. In an interview, you’ll be tested on your communication skills. Can you explain complex designs? Can you explain a piece of code clearly and concisely to non-engineers?

Expressing yourself clearly during your interview and coming across as friendly and approachable will show the interviewer that you would be an asset to their team.

Be genuine. Demonstrate your genuine interest in the company. Doing research on the company and preparing for the interview will help you to demonstrate your interest and give you the opportunity to work out the questions you might want to ask the interviewer.


Prepare for logic puzzles

Logic puzzles are designed to provide the company with insight into how well the applicant can solve problems and think outside the box for solutions. They are a great on-the-spot test of intelligence and provide almost as much information as an applicant’s work history.

Whilst logic puzzles can be difficult, the key to answering them is not just by solving them. You need to use sound reasoning. If you don’t know the answer but you can explain your thought process, even if you’re wrong, you can still impress the interviewer.

An example question is:

Question: A snail is at the bottom of a 30-foot well. Every hour the snail is able to climb up 3 feet, then immediately slide back down 2 feet. How many hours does it take for the snail to get out of the well?

Answer: 28 hours. The snail is travelling at one foot per hour, except on the 28th hour the snail has already reached the top of the well, so it will not slide down the 2 feet.


Whiteboard challenge

Whiteboard challenges are designed to test your communication and problem-solving skills. You’ll be presented with a problem or task and a whiteboard (or writing materials) to present your workings and final solution.

What to do during your whiteboard challenge:


Clarify your task by asking questions before you start

You might get more information or hints from the interviewer if you ask the right questions, which will then help you to solve the task better.

Think out loud so the interviewer can get an understanding of your thought process

A technical interview is designed to test your communication and problem-solving skills. More important than the right answer is how you got to the solution. Articulate your thoughts as you go and show you have a clear understanding of the problem at hand.

Don’t panic if you get stuck

Stay calm, think out loud and start with what you know. If you don’t know an answer, explain where you would research a solution to the issue if it were to come up again.


How to present yourself

One of the most common questions we get asked is what you should wear to an interview for a technology company.  The culture in many technology companies tends to be more relaxed and this is reflected in their attire. Going for an interview at one of these companies, you want to look smart and professional, yet look and feel as though you fit into the company. Look at their company website for a feel on what to wear, smart but casual is key. Always wear clean clothes and shoes, and if in doubt, wear a casual shirt. Above all, be comfortable. You’re being hired for your technical skills, and not your ability to match a shirt and shoes!


Other general interview tips and advice still apply to technical interviews, so be sure to read up on those too.


Good Luck!



Interview tips for candidates

Top 5 questions to ask at an interview


Enigma People Solutions is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. We find technical leaders for the emerging and enabling technology industries. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in photonics, electronics, semiconductor, software and IoT in Scotland. Check out our blog for the latest in the technology industry. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on + 44 131 510 8150


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