CAREERS BLOG: Preparing for technical interviews

UoY Careers Imagine the possibilities LARGE dark green  Blog by Careers Adviser, Rachel Howlett.

If you are applying for a job in a technical area, you may face technical questions at interview, as well as general questions on your skills, experience and motivation.

Technical questions can take several forms:

1)      General, open questions. Here are some examples:

  • Tell me about the project you are most proud of and what your contribution was.
  • Give me an example where you have applied your technical knowledge in a practical way.
  • Explain what you covered in a particular part of your course. 

 Your initial answer is likely to be followed up by more probing supplementary questions.

2)      Questions on specific skills

  • What practical techniques have you carried out?
  • Can you write reports? What makes a good report?
  • What development tools have you used?
  • What languages have you programmed in?
  • Describe the process for writing a piece of code, from requirements to delivery.
  • What are important safety factors need to be considered when working in a lab?
  • What do you consider when organising your work? 

Focus your answer on the skills relevant to the position. Remember the ‘Context Action Result’ structure.

3)      Testing your subject knowledge

  • What are the general properties of plasma?
  • What are the effects of radiation on spacecraft, and how could you overcome these?
  • How do you calculate an orbit at a given altitude?
  • What is the difference between diffraction and interference?
  • Does weight affect how far you can jump?
  • You may be asked to analyse a wiring diagram.
  • You may be asked to analyse a piece of code.
  • How would you explain a database in three sentences to an eight year old?
  • You have been asked to research a new business tool. You have come across two solutions. One is an on-premises solution, the other is cloud-based. Assuming they are functionally equivalent, would you recommend one over the other and why?
  • How would you store 1 million phone numbers?
  • How can you reduce the user’s perception of waiting when some functions take a long time?
  • What is the application of a sparse matrix? 

Keep to a basic answer, don’t make it too complicated.

4)      Looking at your thinking processes/ innovation/ practical aptitude

  • How does a laser printer work?
  • How would you design a spice rack for someone with a visual impairment?
  • What is the temperature when it is twice as warm as 0ºC?
  • Can you mend your bike?
  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • How many telephone boxes are there in England?
  • Suggest five uses for the colour red. 

They will be interested less in what you know than in your potential to learn new things. Tell them about your thought process. Ask for a pen and paper if necessary.