DEV Community

Cover image for Tips for Acing Technical Interviews: Lessons from Both Sides of the Table
Thiago Pacheco
Thiago Pacheco

Posted on

Tips for Acing Technical Interviews: Lessons from Both Sides of the Table

Preparing for a technical interview can be challenging, but there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success. As someone who has conducted many technical interviews, I've learned some valuable lessons that I believe can help interviewees prepare for successful interviews. In this blog post, I'll be sharing three key tips for interviewees.

Preparation is Essential

Preparation is key when it comes to tech interviews. This includes researching the company, the role you're interviewing for, and the technologies you'll be working with. It's also important to practice your technical skills by working on projects, completing coding challenges, and reviewing common interview questions. Additionally, make sure to prepare questions to ask your interviewer. This not only shows your interest in the company and role, but also gives you the opportunity to learn more about the company culture, team dynamics, and potential growth opportunities.

To have even more chances of success when it comes to preparation, keep in mind that there are huge differences in interview formats depending on the size of the company you are applying to.

Differences in Interview Formats and Questions

It's important to note that the interview format and questions can vary widely depending on the size and type of company you're interviewing with. Startups, mid-size companies, and FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) all have different approaches to interviewing.


Startups often have a more informal interview process and may focus more on cultural fit than technical skills. You may be asked to complete a coding challenge or technical task, but the interview may also include more casual conversations about your background, interests, and values. Startups may also be more likely to ask behavioral questions and assess your problem-solving skills.

Another important factor is that startups are usually more focused on specific skills, like a specific language or set of frameworks. In this case, if you are applying for a job on a startup it is recommended to check the stack they use and focus your studies on those topics.

Mid-Size Companies

Mid-size companies may have a more formal interview process, but still place a strong emphasis on cultural fit. They may also have a mix of technical and behavioral questions and may ask you to complete coding challenges or whiteboard exercises. Mid-size companies may also assess your ability to work collaboratively and communicate effectively.

For the preparation steps, it is worth it to keep in mind that mid-size companies are somewhat similar to startups in that they may ask you questions more focused on a specific language or framework. On the other hand, they will also ask you algorithm-like questions so it is important to practice common algorithms.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that, as a growing company, they may also be facing challenges with scalability and possibly database performance, so it is interesting to review common database performance improvement techniques as well as scalability strategies.

Great resources to understand these topics are the books: Designing Data-intensive Applications by Martin Kleppmann and System Design Interview 1 and 2


FANGs often have a rigorous and structured interview process that heavily emphasizes technical skills. You can expect multiple rounds of interviews, including coding challenges, whiteboard exercises, and technical discussions with multiple interviewers. FANGs may also ask behavioral questions, but the focus is typically on assessing your technical abilities and problem-solving skills.

In this case, you should focus most of your time on algorithm questions and solve the questions on Leetcode since they are very close to what is asked.

System design questions are also very heavy and it is recommended that you practice designing and presenting it. For this topic, I recommend resources like ByteByteGo.

The process on FANGs is very heavy, so if that is your goal I suggest you practice a lot and even find some friends to do some mock interviews together.

In summary, it's important to understand the differences in interview formats and questions between startups, mid-size companies, and FANGs. By researching the company and preparing accordingly, you can increase your chances of success in the interview process. Remember to focus on communication skills, preparation, and honesty, and approach the interview with confidence and a willingness to learn and grow.

Communication is Key

While technical skills are important, communication skills are just as crucial in tech interviews. Being able to articulate your ideas and communicate effectively with your interviewer can demonstrate your abilities and potential as a candidate. Even if you don't know the answer to a particular question, being able to explain your reasoning and thought process can show that you have a strong foundation of knowledge and are capable of learning quickly.

As most of the interviews nowadays are online, a quick tip I can give you is to write a script to facilitate remembering things. Even if it is related to your skills and experience, when we are under pressure it is very hard to articulate well while remembering things and considering the best answers.
You are often going to be asked to talk about specific situations in your experience. It can be related to dealing with conflicts, deadlines, bad decisions and much more. Following the tip above, you could also keep a cheat sheet of the best personal stories of your experience. Further, I recommend you to follow the STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) method when answering these questions, it has been proven a very efficient method to express your experience and your hability to deal with certain situations.

Honesty is the Best Policy

It can be tempting to exaggerate your skills or experiences during a tech interview, especially if you feel like you're not fully qualified for the position. However, being dishonest or misleading during an interview can have serious consequences. If you're hired for a role that you're not fully qualified for, it can lead to frustration and disappointment for both you and the company. Additionally, if you're caught in a lie during the interview process, it can damage your reputation and potentially harm future job prospects. Instead of trying to fake your way through an interview, be honest about your skills and experiences, and focus on how you can learn and grow in the role.


In conclusion, technical interviews can be challenging, but with the right preparation, communication skills, and honesty, you can increase your chances of success. Remember to research the company, understand the differences in interview formats, and practice your technical skills and communication skills. By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to acing your next tech interview.

Top comments (0)