Interview Experience

Photo by Ru Yang, Summer 2022

I started my job hunting in 2022 Fall and experienced many interviews during the following three months. So I want to share a bit of my thought about interviews for new graduate positions. Most interviews I experienced can be divided into three kinds: HR/Recruiter interview, technical interview, and behavioral interview.

HR/Recruiter Interview

Usually, most companies put this interview as the first round. And it is also the less-pressure round for the candidates since it normally costs 15 – 30 mins and won’t involve too many technical questions and tricky behavioral questions. Before this kind of interview, I usually prepare a personal introduction, do research about the company (culture, business scope, recent news, …etc.), and rechecked the job description for which I applied. During the interview, most of my answers are around my research content.

Technical Interview

Personally, I feel it is the most difficult part of the whole interview procedure since different companies have different technical preferences. Even if they have the same technical requirements, they may have different expectations of the proficiency level and test you in different ways. For example, they may all require you proficient in Python and know data structure and algorithm but may test you using different level coding challenges. Moreover, some companies may not use coding challenges. They prefer to ask you technical questions directly such as can you explain what is lambda function and give an example?

For coding challenges, I used Leetcode and school lectures about data structures and algorithms to help me prepare. It is a kind of frustrating process. I still remember that, in the beginning, I even felt hard to understand the solutions to easy questions. The key is persistence. After fully understanding 300+ leetcode questions, I got some good feelings during the coding challenges. I usually check with the recruiter what the format will be for the continued technical interview. If it is technical questions, I will go over the contents around the requirements in the job description. Another key is don’t be afraid to ask questions or speak out your ideas. It is a communication process, and most of the time the interviewers won’t expect you can give the best solutions within a short time. From my experience, they are glad to give you hints to guide you in finding the solution.

Behavioral Interview

I didn’t perform well during the first several behavioral interviews cause I underestimated it and didn’t prepare before it. After, I did a lot of research about how to prepare for the behavioral interview. Personally, I feel the mock interview is the most effective way for me. When googling “behavioral questions”, there are many examples pop out. I usually select 10 – 15 questions according to my experience level and the positions applied. Then let one of my family members ask me those questions, and I will try to use STAR format to respond to each question. After my response, I will ask my family member’s suggestions and then respond to the question one more time according to their suggestions.

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