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The Soft Skills of Interviewing

kaylasween profile image Kayla Sween Updated on ・3 min read
This post won't teach you how to become a "whiteboard coder," but it will help you gain some of the soft skills necessary to master the interview process.

Do Your Research

Make sure to look up things about the company before you go into the interview. Take a look at the company's website and social media and try to get a feel for what the company culture would be like. Glassdoor could be a good place to look too, but as with any review, try to look for patterns that emerge across multiple reviews.

Doing research will also give you questions to ask at the end of the interview about things the company is doing that you might be interested in.

Relax, Be Kind, and Be Yourself

I know this sounds cliché, but pretending to be someone you're not is only going to hurt you in the long run. Interviews are usually a place for you to determine if you'll get along with the team from both your perspective and the employer's perspective. Putting up a front does you no good!

Do some deep, slow belly breathing before you go in for the interview. If you're experiencing impostor syndrome, remember that it's a liar. You know your stuff, just go in and slay that interview!

Interview Your Interviewer

When you're interviewing for a job, it's important to note that it's not only for your potential employer to determine if you're qualified. It's also for you to determine if this is a manager or company that you can stand to work for!

Come with some questions that you want to ask them about the job and your future day-to-day. Asking questions will make you seem better prepared for the interview and will help you paint a clearer picture of what you would be doing in this position. My favorite interview questions to ask are:

  • What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 90 days?
  • What does a typical day in this position look like?
  • Do you have any reservations about hiring me for this position at this point? If so, what are they?

That last one could definitely catch your interviewer off guard, so I recommend feeling out the situation before committing to it. It's certainly not a question I ask every potential employer. (It's also worth noting that I've been called a "sledgehammer" by coworkers, so if you have the personality to pull it off, go for it.) If the interviewer is honest, it can help you gain an understanding of possible areas of improvement. It also gives you the opportunity to address anything that the interviewer might have misunderstood from earlier conversations and allows you to clarify if necessary.

The first two questions will help you assess the interviewer's expectations and feel out how your position will operate. Asking what a typical day is like can also give you a bit of insight as to how your group would run and if the group is primarily responsible for putting out fires.

ALWAYS Send a Thank-You Note!

See, Mom, I did listen to you!

Make sure you get the email address of the person interviewing you. After your interview (I usually wait until after business hours the same day), send them a thank-you email. Let them know if you enjoyed speaking with them, you valued their time, and hope to hear from them soon. 
Trust me when I say that this speaks volumes. I had an employer tell me that I was the only person they interviewed to send a thank-you, and it really made me stand out during the process. (And yes, I did get that job.)

Always, always, always, ALWAYS send a thank-you!

📣 What are your top interview tips?

Title illustration from unDraw.

Posted on by:

kaylasween profile

Kayla Sween

@kaylasween

I'm a front-end engineer, who is very passionate about UX.

Discussion

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Very nice post, thanks for sharing! All of this is great advice.

Interview Your Interviewer

As a long-time hiring manager, this is such a good tip! Not only do you get to learn more about the interviewer and the job, but you also get to stand out from the crowd. I would say less than a quarter of all candidates do this. This who do, I can tell are curious, focused and it makes for a much more interesting interview for both of us.

A good question that I very rarely get asked, but would recommend others to do is ”what is the thing you like the best and you dislike the most about what you do?”. You’ll be surprised at the type of honest answers you get.

One more tip I have is be excited/interested during this session. After understanding more about the company, position and team, reflect on what things sound exciting and make you especially interested. Again, from experience, many candidates focus purely on the “dry” questions and try to keep emotions in check, suppressing even the positive ones.

Share when you’re excited or pleasantly surprised! The hiring manager is looking for people who complement the team well and positive/curious/excited people always do.

 

Those are awesome tips! Thank you for sharing!

 

Fantastic! As a hiring manager myself (among other things), I recommend all of the above.

I'd also add, don't be afraid if your nerves show a bit. It just shows the interviewer you're a real person, not an act. (In fact, half my job is to get you off-script anyway; I've learned that if the person I'm interviewing displays absolute, unyielding confidence, they invariably have an ego the size of Alaska.)

By the way, another question I like asking when I'm the one being interviewed is:

What could I learn now that would best prepare me to get started right away if I were hired?

Not only does that usually leave a good impression, but it also gives me some valuable information about what I'll need to know to do the job.

 

That's great advice and a really good question! Thanks for sharing that!

 

This is great advice. Sometimes we focus so much on the technical side of interviewing, grinding LeetCode, that we forget the human aspect.

In my most recent job interview, I spent almost all of my free time going through the problems in CTCI and learning all about the framework they were using. Then at the interview I didn’t even have to solve any whiteboarding problems!

That’s not to say the interview was in any way easy or not technical. There was definitely a lot of technical discussion! I didn’t prepare so much on the nontechnical side and I actually thought I blew the interview. Happily, I got an offer still. But it was an important lesson for me to focus on more than just code for my next interview.

So yes, it’s very important to focus on these other aspects of interviewing as well. You never know what you’re going to be asked!

 

Absolutely! It's so easy to get caught up in the tech stuff. I don't know how recent this was, but congrats on the offer anyway! Thanks for sharing your experience!

 

Thanks! This was about two years ago. I’m still working there now!

 

Thank you for your thank-you-note tip! I always tell my students the same, and that their note should include specific references to topics discussed in the interview. People will sense the personal touch and feel more engaged. :)

 

That’s a great touch! Thank you for bringing that up!

 

Last Point - ALWAYS Send a Thank-You Note! is the best one. its at the heart of this article. Thanks

 

Definitely agree 100%! 😊 thanks for reading!

 

Wow, Nice article it will be helpful in the interview

 

Thanks! Glad I could help!

 
 

Excellent article, suggest after a week or so, collecting these suggestions and those from the comments into a cheat sheet.

 

That is a great idea! I’ll do that and post it hopefully next week. Thanks!