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In the interviewing gauntlet, there are always tips and tricks for getting through an interview. If you’re a new bootcamp grad, check out this brief interview guide of Do’s & Don’ts for getting through the process:

Do’s- 

Be prepared to talk about what you did before the bootcamp

  • Why? – You want to focus on any skills that could carry over to a new engineer role: communications skills, client facing skills, analytical work, etc.

Know why you left your old role and WHY you moved into software development

  • Why?- Someone doesn’t leave a role to learn software development  just because (unless they are independently wealthy, in which case…they probably don’t need the job). Know specific reasons why you are making the transition: new skills, complimentary skills, job market, etc.
  • Why? –  Show your passion for technology and what it means to you moving into a new role/industry/company

Know our languages and how to talk about them in real world applications

  • Why? – Theoretical knowledge of a language is not the same as having used or being proficient in a language. Know your languages like the back of your hand and know your weaknesses with those languages even better.
  • Why? – You will be asked about projects. Bootcamp grads may have compacted development into a much smaller time frame than traditional CS grads so it’s important to have a concise outline in your head of projects, professional work, and personal investment.

Practice your answers

  • Why? – The more you practice, the more clearly and concisely you will be able to give confident answers.

Research the company before the interview

  • Why? – It shows interest in their product, industry, structure, and services.  It also means that you’ve taken the time to analyze their current market and give you an opportunity to let them know how you will help.
  • Why? – So you can ask questions of the interviewer. If you have done thorough research, you can ask questions regarding development of new software, team structure, etc. This turns the tables and takes you out of  the hot seat for a while.

Know how you want to grow

  • Why? – It shows forward thinking and an understanding for learning, mentorship and the future with the organization. This doesn’t mean you have to have a five year plan.  It is simply an open door for guidance, continued training, and growth.   “I’m comfortable building the back end of Ruby on Rails web apps on day one, but I’m looking forward to expanding my front end skill set as well.”
  • Why? – It gives you challenges that you want to overcome. You are motivated to overcome them.  Provide specific past examples of challenges that you were able to take on.

Have your portfolio memorized inside and out

  • Why? – This shows drive and organization.  You should know every last detail your personal projects, live apps, published work & Github. You should be able to explain the process from start to finish without missing a beat.

Articulate your experiences

  • Why? – If you are speaking with someone who is non-technical, this is where your past background and commuication skills are key.  This is the difference between knowing what you do vs. HOW and WHY you are do it.  Help your non-technical interviewer vizualize your work.

Don’ts-

Go into too much detail about your previous career

  • Why? – You want to spend a few minutes talking about your previous career but if it isn’t entirely relevant to your new industry/ company/ skills set, it may draw focus on reasons you are less qualified for this new career.

Be too selective on the industry, company size, location & compensation

  • Why? – If you’re a new grad with no experience at all, then there is no reason to like or dislike on specific aspect of an industry, company, or size.  If you would like to focus on a certain area of work, do your homework about the companies within the industry, how their software teams are made up, and what they consider to be fair compensation by looking at their job boards.  One year of professional software development experience will make you significantly more marketable and allow you to hone in on your dream job with much more ease. Don’t settle, but be flexible.

And, as always, standard interview rules apply: be early, dress to impress, prepare questions, bring a resume (even if they have one), and avoid strong sensory markers that someone might associate you with, instead of your skills ( strong cologne, nail polish still drying from your subway ride, etc.

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