How To Answer Technical Interview Questions

Are you ready for that big interview? You've prepared your résumé. You've picked out the perfect professional suit.  You've spent hours on the Internet reading practice interview questions. You can easily recite from memory why you would be a good employee and you are ready to give an example of the greatest hurdle you've had to overcome in the workplace. It sounds like your ready. Oh wait - have you practiced your technical interview questions?  If you haven't, you need to learn what technical interview questions are and know how to answer them.

  1. Know what technical interview questions are. Technical interview questions are asked so that the interviewer can understand how you use your analytical reasoning skills to form a solution to a problem. Some technical interview questions can involve a riddle or brainteaser. While these technical interview questions would have one correct answer, other technical interview questions may have multiple answers. An example of this type of question would be "How would you improve this paper clip?" There are many different answers that would work for this question.  
  2. Make sure you understand the question. When you are asked a technical interview question, it's important to make sure that you understand what the interviewer is looking for in an answer. If you are unsure then be sure to ask for clarification. Since the purpose of these questions is to get a gauge of your analytical skills, then asking questions will further help the interviewer understand your thought process. Using the previous example of a paper clip, you may want to ask the interviewer what size and style of paper clip they intend for you to improve. 
  3. Think fully about the question. Take a few minutes to think fully about the question asked. Try to think of the question from different directions and give the answer that makes the most sense to you. It's especially important with technical interview questions not to try to find the "correct" answer, but find an answer that you believe in. Approach the problem from many different angles. You can improve a paper clip by using a different material, using a different style, or creating a whole new object that would serve the same purpose as a paper clip.
  4. Think outside the box. Besides technical interview questions being used to determine your problem-solving skills, they also are used to see if you can think outside the box. It's important that your answer is creative, but above all else it's important that it makes sense. To simply tell the interviewer that you would make the paper clip stronger would not suffice here. You need to explain why it should be stronger and what you would do to make it stronger.
  5. Defend your answer. Often with technical interview questions your answer will prompt the interviewer to develop follow-up questions. You should be able to defend your answer and further explain it if necessary. If you have thought about the question fully and approached it from different angles, you should be able to easily defend your answer. A good answer to the paper clip scenario would be saying that you would design a paper clip whose two tongs are magnetized with opposite polarities, so that they are strongly drawn to each other. You also would make the paper clip less shiny because you think this would make it look more professional. This shows the interviewer that you logically thought about the problem and that you thought outside the box. An interviewer could ask you a follow-up question wanting you to explain the purpose of the magnetism. In this case you could say that the new design with its magnetism would help it hold more papers and increase its lifespan.

Since there can be more than one answer for a technical interview question, it can be difficult to practice for them. Being aware of what they are and the basic way you should answer them will help you when you encounter them at your interview. Reading through riddles and brainteasers on the Internet will help you get warmed up and ready for your interview.  


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