Acing One of the Trickiest Technical Interview Questions
You are crushing all the technical interview questions thrown at you during your programmer interview when the person across the table delivers this curveball: “What would your co-workers say about you?”
Unless you’re a mind-reader or your co-workers randomly share with you their opinions about your skills, character, and personality, your answer will require some serious thought and consideration. But getting this question (truthfully) right is critical to your chances of getting the job and advancing your technical career.
Technical interviewers ask this question to get insights into how you perceive yourself more than how others perceive you. They want to know whether you play well with others and will be a pleasant and productive presence in the office. They may compare what you say to what your references say about you, or use it as an opportunity to test your interpersonal skills and self-awareness.
As you prepare for your next big interview, you should also be ready to answer this trickiest of technical interview questions. Here are six tips about how to respond:
Identify Your Strengths
If others talk about you, you would no doubt prefer them to speak about your strengths and positive attributes rather than your weaknesses or shortcomings. Write down a list of your best qualities, especially the technical and interpersonal skills apparent to those you work with.
While you certainly want to emphasize your programming or other technical skills and competencies, don’t neglect “soft skills” that can be just as important. Do your colleagues find you helpful, organized, and reliable? Do they consider you to be a hard worker and a positive presence in the workplace? Are you a detail-oriented problem-solver who handles adversity well? Hopefully, they say “yes” to these questions, and you can truthfully convey that in your interview.
Focus on the Job Description
Before your technical interview, go back and thoroughly review the job description. Your outstanding qualities only matter if those qualities are relevant to the position. So, while you may be rightly proud of your pub trivia prowess or love of dogs, they say nothing about your abilities as a software or system engineer or attractiveness as a potential co-worker. Focus your answers so they correlate to the desired skills, experience, and characteristics as the company expressed them in the job listing.
Connect Characteristics to Actions
Be prepared to provide concrete examples of how you’ve leveraged your positive traits during your career. If your co-workers say you perform well under pressure, describe a situation where you did so. If creativity and innovation are in your wheelhouse, discuss a specific time where your ingenuity helped advance your employer’s goals. Focus on one trait connected to one anecdote. By talking about actions instead of words, it gives the interviewer a better sense of how you would handle similar events in the future.
Avoid Red Flags
All of us have our flaws, and most of us worked with at least one person who we probably rubbed the wrong way. Now is not the time to focus on either of those things.
You know interviewers like team players, so don’t describe yourself as a “lone wolf” or say, “I never really spoke with my co-workers..” While confidence is a positive quality, arrogance or an inflated sense of self is not. Saying, “My colleagues would tell you that I was the best programmer they ever worked with – because I am” will not put you in the best light.
If You Have Evidence, Use It
If you have tangible, written evidence reflecting how highly your colleagues or supervisors thought of you, use it. Performance reviews, laudatory emails or texts, or accolades for your achievements all transform your answer about your co-workers’ opinions from speculation to fact. Try to identify common themes or characteristics to back up your own descriptions of your strengths and talents.
Ask Your Co-Workers What They Think
If you are comfortable doing so and can ask discreetly, go directly to the source and have your co-workers tell you what they think about you. Ask them how they would describe you to someone calling for a reference or to another professional in your industry. As with performance reviews and emails, your colleagues’ answers have the benefit of being real, truthful, and insightful.
Your Dream Technical Job Is Out There. We Can Help You Get It.
Your ability to deftly answer technical interview questions is just one of several ways you can set yourself apart from other candidates. Preparing, practicing, and putting thought into a technical interview before you arrive will give you and your career search an enviable competitive advantage.
You can further your chances of landing that dream position by leveraging the power, resources, and experience of the best technical recruiting and staffing agency in Dallas, Phoenix and nationwide. Contact us to learn more about how our innovative approaches can help you take your technical career to the next level.