Interviewing skills are an important part of a job search. At Epicodus, you'll have the opportunity to participate in a mock interview with a member of our staff, and practice answering some typical questions. If you have an existing job you want to cater your mock interview towards, please let your advisor know before your interview. To frame your mock interview, you can use this sample job posting for a junior-level position at a small company. The more seriously we take it, the more we can learn as we move forward. There are some basics to consider as you prepare for any interview.
Dress appropriately for an interview. We highly recommend that you dress to make the best impression at your job interview. Please make sure that your attire is aligned with the work that you are looking for. Here are some resources that may be helpful when trying to decide what to wear:
Conduct yourself in a professional manner
Have detailed and specific answers prepared for common questions.
Have relevant and thoughtful questions prepared for your interviewer.
Stay relaxed, and enjoy the opportunity to teach someone about yourself, and learn about a company.
During the mock interview, we'll have questions that cover a few areas. These are by no means formal interview sections, and some interviews may focus on one area or another, but as a general rule these are present in one form or another in just about every interview. You'll have one or more questions from each section in your mock interview. For the purposes of the mock interview, we'll conduct the interview as if you were applying to work at a general start-up.
These are "get to know you" questions about yourself, and about your previous education, experience and motivations.
- Tell me about yourself. What's your background?
- Why did you get into programming?
- What made you pick Epicodus?
- Where do you see yourself in the future?
Your goal should be to explain the ways life has been preparing you to become a developer. General biographical information should be kept to a minimum. If you have prior programming experience you can talk about any coding you did as a kid or in school. If you're newer to coding you can emphasize parts of jobs where you worked with computers or spreadsheets, and tell about any computer skills you developed on your own.
Either way, make sure to emphasize the skills that have served you well as a student and developer, for example problem solving skills, critical thinking, organizational skills and so on. You want to show the interviewer you're passionate by illustrating how these skills have come up in different ways throughout your life. All together, this overview about yourself should be packaged as an elevator pitch- succinct, relevant, and to the point.
These are discussion questions which give you a chance to showcase your knowledge about programming tools and concepts. This is different from a technical question.
- What problems do you see with current web development tools?
- What do you like about current web development trends?
- How do you stay active in the tech community?
- What are your strategies to approach a problem that is initially beyond your capabilities?
- What frameworks have you used?
- What testing tools have you used?
Be well prepared for these interview questions and know how to answer them. These are generally less about your technical skill set and more about your work ethic and ability to collaborate with others. The general format they're looking for is called STAR. It means:
- S: Describe a situation you faced relevant to the interviewer's question. (In my job at x company)
- T: Outline the tasks you had to accomplish. (I had to accomplish y thing)
- A: Describe the action(s) you took in response. (To that end I did z thing)
- R: Go over the results of your actions. (This is what ended up happening or what I learned)
It's a useful guideline for telling stories and giving examples that demonstrate your capabilities in an interview.
Using the STAR outline, give an example of a time....
- You accomplished something you didn't think you'd be able to. What was it? How did you achieve it?
- You made a group more efficient, productive, or motivated in tackling a challenge. What was the situation? How did you rally your group members? What was the result?
- A project or assignment's priorities suddenly changed and you had to adapt.
- You faced issues working with a partner or team. What did you do to resolve it? How did it work out?
- You had to make a decision with incomplete information. How did you determine what to do?
The interviewer will want to know about your motivations and experiences in the workplace. These questions are a good chance to highlight your communication, teamwork, and work ethic.
- What kind of culture do you want in your workplace?
- What are some of the challenges you faced while pairing?
- Give an example of how you resolved a disagreement with your pair.
- How would you communicate with team members that are not developers?
- Tell me about the intern project you worked on.
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why should we hire you?
Just about every interviewer will close out by asking if you have any questions. You should have at least a couple prepared ahead of time. Even though you are the one asking questions, you are still sharing what you care about as an employee through the types of questions you are asking. The most effective ones show an interest in the company and in being a positive addition to it.
Questions about the team and culture of the company and where you would fit in are also really good. It's important to have some questions prepared that will help you decide if this is a good fit for you. Make sure to ask about things that haven't been covered in previous conversation.
- Can you give me an example of a recent challenge or project you've been faced with?
- What are the priorities for this position?
- If I am offered the position, what kinds of opportunities will I have to work with veteran developers?
- What are the greatest challenges for those in this role?
- What opportunities will I have to learn new skills/continue my education?
In addition to questions about priorities, projects, and other aspects of the job, you can also ask your interviewer about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Many companies will have DEI statements available on their websites that can let you know their values and intentions for DEI at their company. These questions can help you determine whether those intentions lead to meaningful impacts on the team and company, and whether or not this company is a good fit for you.
- What is the retention rate of people of color on this team?
- What is the promotion rate of people of color at the company?
- How do you measure your work in DEI/racial justice? How do you know you're achieving your goals?
- How do you measure an inclusive environment at this company?
Before you walk into the interview, make yourself a physical or mental list of things you absolutely do not want to leave the interview without them knowing about you. These are not necessarily catch all things you spout off at every interview. Maybe you did a project that relates to what they're working on. Maybe you have a lot of enthusiasm for a client they're working with. As the interview is winding down, make sure you go through that list and that you've touched on all those things. Otherwise it can be really easy to walk out of an interview and only realize hours later that there were really important selling points you should have added.
This is not the time to ask about salary, vacation time, or other benefits. If they offer that information you can ask if those things are negotiable, but this is not the time to do the actual negotiating.
Be aware of non-verbal cues. It can tell you as much about how an interview is going as what the interviewer is saying. You can usually tell if you're overstaying your welcome or if an interviewer is receptive to extended conversation by their expression or body language.
Above all else, remember that the employer came to you because they have a problem and they want you to be the solution. They're investing time in interviewing you because they are in your corner and they want it to be a positive encounter.
When you participate in your mock interview, we'll be evaluating your performance, just like your code review. You will be reviewed on the following objectives:
- Dress appropriately for an interview.
- Conduct yourself in a professional manner
- Have an answer for personal questions that highlights your journey to becoming a programmer.
- Have an answer for programming questions that highlights your knowledge and grasp of programming concepts.
- Have an answer for workplace questions in the S.T.A.R. format.
- Have a relevant question for your interviewer. For the purposes of this interview, you can prepare a question about Epicodus.
- Stay relaxed, and enjoy the opportunity to teach someone about yourself, and learn about a company.