How to Answer Tough Technology Interview Questions

Nick Castiglia | Resource Development Manager

Walking into any job interview is nerve-wracking. Knowing how to answer the tough technology interview questions in an interview in ways that are both honest and powerful helps you impress the interviewer and securely land the job. It all comes down to being prepared and going into the interview expecting the unexpected.

While there are definitely some questions you’ll hear again and again, it’s most certainly in your best interest to prepare for answering tough technology interview questions.

Getting Prepared for the Interview
This may seem like a rudimentary task – but it is one of the most important to never over-look. You never know walking into an interview what types of technology interview questions may be asked. The night before the interview, make sure to do basic research on the company to get a feel for what they do. Nothing is worse than when candidates go to an interview and can’t even speak to what the company does, which happens more often than you’d think. Also, knowing who you are interviewing with is crucial. Take a few minutes to do some basic research on the interviewer. By glancing at their LinkedIn, you can get a better understanding of their background, companies they previously worked for, as well as any potential professional connections. (You never know – you might have even attended the same college!)
Another important aspect of getting prepared is making sure to come to the interview with a few questions for the interviewer. This not only proves your interest in the company and the opportunity, but it is also a great way to get answers to some of the questions you might have.

Formulating Specific Scenarios
Although there are many ways to prepare for an interview – one of the most important strategies to practice is to pick 2 or 3 specific scenarios that relate to the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying to a Project Manager position and one of the technology interview questions you create as a scenario is “When was a time that a budget for a project did not go as planned?”. Now inherently, you don’t want to talk negatively about yourself, but – honesty is the best policy. What are some of the scenarios you think an interviewer would ask? What are some of the ones you have been asked in the past? Where have you had challenges answering a question?

Sometimes you may have to change the scenarios you have formulated based off of what is being asked. But having 2 or 3 scenarios readily available in your head eases your thoughts when tough questions are being asked regarding past project management work, budgeting dilemmas, etc.

The STAR Method
The STAR method is something we love here at Genuent. We make sure all of our candidates are well versed in the STAR method since technology (situational-based) interview questions are tough questions to answer. It is also extremely helpful during those tough situational based questions that are asked many times during a technology interview.

These are the step-by-step instruction on how to answer situational-based interview questions following the STAR method:

Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past.

Task: What goal were you working toward?

Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on YOU.

Result: Describe the outcome of your actions and don’t be shy about taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the project end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? During this final step – Your answer can contain both positive and negative results, just make sure to focus on how you took action and learned from the negative results. This shows the initiative you took in order to make the end result right.

Being Aware of the Interview Environment
Once in the interview room, it is always important to get a feeling of the environment as well as the audience who is accompanying the environment you are in. If you get a sense that the person interviewing you is extremely “bubbly” then feel free to answer the interview questions with enthusiasm. If you are getting the feeling that the hiring manager is being short – it is always best to have short, precise, and detailed answers.

Answering tough interview questions is never an easy task, but by following these simple tasks and learning the STAR Method for those tough situational-based questions – you’ll be an interview expert in no time.