The Soft Skills of Interviewing

August 9, 2019

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?
  • What is your favorite thing about working for [Company]?
  • What is your least favorite thing about working for [Company]?
  • 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 a coworker before, 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!