Interviewing with a tech company such as Facebook, Hulu, Microsoft, Spotify, or Google is somewhat different from interviewing at companies in other industries, but the basics are the same.
What is similar but with a little twist?
- Are you passionate about the company? Are you familiar with its products, and do you use them? Do you have ideas for improvement?
- Do you have a real passion for technology? For example, do you read stories by tech news sources? How do you use technology every day? By any chance, are you wearing an Apple watch?
- Are you creative? For example, do you enjoy brainstorming? When asked to solve a problem, are you thinking outside the box and even pushing back on assumptions?
- Companies are looking for intelligence. Whether it’s fair or unfair, they’re looking for your college GPA. Testing you may also be part of the interview process.
- Are you one who gets things done? Do you work on great things, and do you typically finish them? And how about outside of work or academia?
- Do you take initiative? The question here is asking whether you like to go above and beyond. Anything unusual? Are you writing blogs? Have you worked on something that people were surprised about?
Traditional and nontraditional interview questions
You should be prepared to discuss your résumé at the interview because at some point, that subject will come up. Be prepared to explain why you changed jobs. Your answers had better be convincing because otherwise, the interviewer will dig deeper and deeper—especially if the interview is with the human resources representative.
Practice your pitch
For every past position, you should practice delivering a blurb that starts with explaining your function and role, but the highlight should be your accomplishments. The interviewer is less interested in what you did and more interested in your accomplishments. Don’t be too long on details. Let the interviewer probe. And sound enthusiastic.
Prepare for behavior-based questions
This might be difficult for some, unless prepared for it. “Tell me about a time you had to defend an idea.” Most people should be able to reply to such a request, but it’s likely that the answer is not on the tip of the tongue.
Come very prepared for the interview
Learn as much about the company as you can. Every interviewer wants to make sure you’ll fit into the company culture by your proving that you’ve spent extensive time learning what the company makes or the services it provides, how the company makes the product or provides the services, and how the company makes money. That knowledge will help your cause. For example, Amazon is a reseller that makes a small profit. The company has one of the world’s best distribution systems, which is supported by an excellent infrastructure. Read the latest news about the company. Know important names—at least the names of the top leadership. And learn some details and particulars about them. Twitter is a great resource for surfacing current issues at the company. Find out about the company’s competitors by researching those as well. Read about current and former employees on Twitter and Facebook. Research company leadership on LinkedIn. And last, try to learn as much as possible about the company culture.
Come prepared with intelligent questions
The interview should be a professional dialogue and not turn into an interrogation. You as an applicant should attempt to interweave some intelligent questions into that dialogue. Your questions should be genuine: What are the biggest issues the team faces? How much of the day is spent on coding? The questions should also be insightful. Ask something about an issue you already know something about. Perhaps ask something technical. An interviewer who’s interested in technical aspects will probe further, which will lead to a great dialogue. At that point you can say, “I’ll be happy to elaborate on that.”
Interviewing is a skill that improves with practice. It is not very difficult, and what I’ve learned from coaching professionals in ways of mastering it, it’s part practice and a lot of solid preparation. Remember Larry King and Charlie Rose’s interviews? Those were not impromptu interviews but well-prepared and well-rehearsed acts.