Interviews Phases

Each round of interview is usually split into three phases, as shown in Figure 1-2. The first phase is the behavioral interview, in which interviewers examine candidates' experience while referring to their résumés. The second phase is the technical interview when it is highly possible for a candidate to be asked to solve some coding interview problems. Finally, the candidate is given time to ask a few questions. 
Behavior Interview
The first five to ten minutes of a round of interview is used for becoming acquainted. Usually, this is time for the behavioral interview, and no difficult technical questions are asked. Interviewers look for someone who would be a good fit for the job in terms of technical skills as well as personality. A person who is too timid might not fit well into an environment where he or she needs to be vocal. Interviewers also look for enthusiasm and excitement. If candidates are not excited about the position, they may not be motivated to contribute, even if they are a strong technical fit.
Most interviews begin with candidates' introducing themselves. A candidate usually doesn’t need to spend a lot of time introducing his or her main study and work experiences because interviewers have seen his or her résumé which contains detailed information. However, if an interviewer feels interested in a project the candidate has worked on, he or she may ask several questions on that subject in the introductory phase.
Project Experience
After a candidate has introduced him- or herself, interviewers may follow up with some questions on interesting projects listed on his or her résumé. It is recommended to use the STAR pattern to describe each project both on your résumé and during interviews (Figure 1-3).
  • Situation: Concise information about the project background, including the size, features, and target customers of the project.
  • Task: Concrete tasks should be listed when describing a big project. Please notice the difference between “taking part in a project” and “taking charge of a project.” When candidates mentioned they have taken charge of a project, it is highly possible for them to be asked about the overall architectural design, core algorithms, and team collaboration. These questions would be very difficult to answer if the candidates only joined a team and wrote dozens of lines of code. Candidates should be honest during interviews. Reference checks will also query claims made on résumés.
  • Action: Detailed information should be covered about how to finish tasks. If the task was architectural design, what were the requirements and how were they fulfilled? If the task was to implement a feature, what technologies were applied on which platforms? If it was to test, was it tested automatically or manually, with black boxes or white boxes?
  • Result: Data, especially numbers, about your contribution should be listed explicitly. If the task is to implement features, how many features have been delivered in time? If the task is to maintain an existing system, how many bugs have been fixed?
Let’s look at an example of the STAR patter in use. I usually describe my experience working on the Microsoft Winforms team in the following terms:
Winforms is a mature UI platform in Microsoft .NET (Situation). I mainly focused on maintenance and on implementing a few new features (Task). For the new features, I implemented new UI styles on Winforms controls in C# in order to make them look consistent between Windows XP and Windows 7. I tried to debug most of the reproducible issues we had with Visual Studio and employed WinDbg to analyze dump files (Action). I fixed more than 200 bugs in those two years (Result).
Interviewers may follow up with a few questions if the information you supplied in these four categories has not been described clearly. Additionally, interviewers are also interested in the candidates’ answers to the following questions:
  • What was the most difficult issue in the project? How did you solve it?
  • What did you learn from the project?
  • When did you conflict with other team members (developers, testers, UI designers, or project managers)? How did you eliminate these conflicts?
    It is strongly recommended that candidates prepare answers to each of the questions above when they write their résumés. The more time they spend preparing, the more confident they will be during interviews.
When describing a project either on a résumé or during an interview, candidates should be concise regarding project background, but they should provide detailed information about their own tasks, actions, and contributions. 
  1. Technical Skills
    Besides project experiences, technical skills are also a key element that interviewers pay close attention to on candidates’ résumés. Candidates should be honest in describing the proficiency level of their skills. Only when candidates feel confident that they are capable of solving most of the problems in a certain domain, should they declare themselves experts. Interviewers have higher expectation of candidates who claim to be experts and ask them more difficult questions. It is very disappointing when you cannot meet these expectations. 
    Candidates should be honest when they are describing their project experiences and technical skills.  www.cinterviews.com appreciates your contribution please mail us the questions you have to cinterviews.blogspot.com@gmail.com so that it will be useful to our job search community

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