How a mentor can prepare you for technical interviews

Published March 26, 2020

Mentors have become popular among every industry you can think of. They've become valuable individuals who are capable of dispensing all sorts of knowledge, skills, and wisdom to those who require their help. These mentors have been through every walk of life in the career you've chosen and will most likely know how to deal with certain situations that appear in your life. Technical interviews are one of the many things they can help you with since they've most likely been in the same spot as you, but may not have been as fortunate to have someone guide them through such an important matter.

How a mentor can prepare you for technical interviews

Mentorships have become an increasingly important part of personal and professional development. They will become guides through the time when you need someone capable of placing you back on the appropriate path. A good mentor will be someone enthusiastic about the person they are mentoring, enjoys the role they've been put in and helps others achieve their main goals.

In this case, it would be the goal of being prepared to deal with a technical interview. Now you may be wondering why it's important to have a mentor prepare you for a technical interview?

Well, technical interviews are not similar to any other typical job interview. These interviews are a specialized, rigorous process that will test your coding skills, problem-solving capabilities, and personality. While having to go through a technical interview for that dream job can be quite gruesome (with remote coding challenges, whiteboard challenges, and even days filled with onsite interviews at times), it can go a lot more smoothly when you are prepared to take on everything that's thrown your way.

That's why it's crucial for you to have a mentor who is capable of preparing you for one of the toughest moments in your life. They'll be able to provide you with everything you need to know along with moral support. For this article lets go over what you need to know about how useful mentors can be during this important moment.

What's a technical interview?

Technical reviews are different from your usual interview for several reasons. This type of interview will place you through a series of challenges and assignments that must be completed to prove you'll be capable of filling in the job. In a way, they can be considered more like exams instead of the usual questions and answer interviews you have to deal with. During this type of interview, you'll need to provide proof that you have the skills necessary to fulfill this job, instead of simply telling the interview that you are fully capable of doing so.

The Technical interview process

Now, let's go over what's going to go down during the technical interview. While we can't give you a straightforward answer, because every company has its own way of doing it, we can take a look at the more common ones you'll most likely deal with.

At times, these tech interviews will have three basic tests you have to go through.

The first step is known as the technical phone screen. Simply put, the interviewer will get in contact with you and discuss your softer skills, such as communication skills, teamwork capabilities and so on. The interview will want to get to know you better and know what kind of projects you are interested in working on. The purpose behind this part is to see if you are enthusiastic enough about the position and if you're qualified for the next part of the interview.

The second part of the interview will have to deal with remote coding. Certain companies will want to test your coding skills with a preliminary test. This test will typically be done at home and be conducted either through a live chat application such as Skype or Google Hangout, or they'll give you a homework assignment that needs to be done by a specific time.

If you managed to successfully complete the remote coding assignment and got contacted by the interviewer then you're at the last challenging step. This part you'll be asked to come on-site and do what's known as the whiteboard challenge. While the interview is done in person you'll be dealing with a set of coding challenges that need to be completed on a whiteboard while the interview is in the room with you.

Again, as we stated previously, every company has its way of conducting technical interviews, so don't expect the process to be the same. Even so, being prepared to take on these challenges is what you need to do and that's when your mentor can come in and help you out during the preparation process.

Mentor guidance

As stated before, these mentors have most likely had to go through their own set of technical interviews when joining a tech company all those years ago. While each process may have been different from one another that doesn't mean they don't have ways of preparing you for your big day. Whether that preparation is by helping you improve your skills or simply providing emotional support, they'll make sure you can confidently get through it.

Helping you stand out

With one of the potential interviews being conducted over the phone, it will be harder for the interviewer to get a good idea of you. While it may be good that they can't get a good look at your nervous expression, that doesn't mean they won't scrutinize your response. When a candidate is capable of answering the questions during the interview in a specific way to the position they want and the company, it tells the interview that they've done their homework. It will make them believe that you want that job, and not just any old job, but the position you are interviewing for.

Mentors will be able to coach you through a series of practice interviews and provide feedback on what you did well and what you can improve upon. They'll also be able to provide the appropriate information you may need to know about both the position and company you are applying to. Practicing over the phone with them will help you adjust to properly answer each question in a calm, but enthusiastic manner.

Interviews can be really nerve-racking so being able to get used to it with the help of your mentor will help you remain calm and prevent the chances of freezing up or stuttering out your answers. Having someone who can help you practice and provide you with support and information on how to remain calm will go a long way during the interview process.

Improve your coding skills

Since your coding skills will be put to the test, it's important to make sure you are capable of completing the assignment they'll give you. If you don't manage to understand the work they assign to you, then you'll definitely be getting a rejection email back from them. Since your mentor is a skilled individual who has years of coding experience under their belt, they'll be able to provide you with the information and skills you need.

To improve and sharpen your skills a mentor will be able to put yours through various assignments they 'll make that can help you learn what you'll need for the remote coding section of the interview. For example, during one of your sessions, the mentor can type in a code, delete it afterward, and have you type in what they typed with their assistance. This will help you learn what you'll need to know about certain coding languages or expand upon your current one. Once they feel like you've learned enough under them they could have you make your own simple app or tool with your own flair to it to show proof of your improvement.

Your mentor is a huge source of knowledge, so don't let that go to waste as ask them for help with improving your skills if you feel like you need it.

Dealing with pressure

Your mentor has been placed under all sorts of pressure over the years, and during those times they've most likely picked up a trick or two that's allowed them to remain calm. During your on-site technical review, you'll be carefully watched by the people conducting your interview and it can usually be more than one person at a time.

As you can already imagine, you'll be feeling stressed out having a set of eyes watching your every move, scrutinizing every code you write down on to the whiteboard. This is something that can lead to you panicking and making mistakes on problems you'd normally be able to answer with little to no problem. That's where your mentor can come in and prepare you to deal with such a situation.

Your mentor can meet up at a place where you both can conduct a mock technical interview that involves the whiteboard section of the interview. They can set up a series of coding problems you'll need to solve and watch you closely as you work your way through the work. This will allow them to assess not only your coding skills but what you'll need to work on to remain cool during the actual interview. After doing these series of mock technical interviews you should not only be able to have a good handle on remaining calm but also have further sharpened your coding capabilities.

Just keep in mind that your mentor has been in the same position as you have been, so they'll be completely understanding of what you're dealing with and will do everything in their power to help you out during this important moment in your life.

Dressing appropriately

Fortunately for you, most of these tech companies are usually relaxed and casual workplaces so you won't have to wear a monkey suit when going in for the onsite portion of the interview. But that doesn't excuse you from dressing up like a slob. Take the time to ask your mentor for advice on how you should dress or at least what you should avoid wearing when going into the interview. You want to go in dressing smartly, possibly in a business casual to give off an air of seriousness for the interview. Your mentor will be able to comment on your choice of clothing and ensure you go in dressing appropriately for your interview.

Ask them what you should bring to the interview

Typically you'll want to bring a printed copy of your resume when going to the interview. But asking your mentor if you need to bring any extra items should be done, to ensure you are fully prepared for anything thrown your way during your time at the interview. They'll be aware of the basics and will provide you with the information you are looking for and if they know someone who works on the inside they might be able to offer you a better idea of what to bring or at least not to bring.

Emotional support

Throughout the process of his technical interview, you'll most likely be undergoing a series of emotional rollercoasters. From excitement to panic and self-doubt your emotions will be running rampant through your mind, which can lead to some serious problems in the long run if you don't manage to control yourself. A mentor isn't there just to teach certain skills or provide knowledge on the career you've chosen. They are also people who are willing to offer you an ear and listen to your problems. Your mentor will be able to not only help clear you of your doubts but both inspire and encourage you to continue marching through this path and succeed at getting through the technical interview.

So don't be afraid to go to them when you require someone that can help calm your mind, they'll be there for you!

Conclusion

Mentors have become a crucial part of the tech industry, they've become huge sources of help and continue to lend their knowledge and skills to those who really want them. Hopefully, this article has managed to help you understand the importance of a mentor and how they can help you prepare for your future technical interview.