When applying for an IT-based role, it is common practice to ask the candidate to complete a technical interview.

If your potential employer has requested that you complete a tech test, expect it to be designed to test your technical ability with direct reference to the role you are applying for. Of course, it will look at your responses, but it will also assess your problem-solving skills, your methodology, and how you arrived at your result.

Your tech test. What can you expect?

  • Many tech test questions will relate directly to the job role. Make sure you read the job description carefully and feel confident with the skills required.
  • Interview questions may consist of traditional interview questions, brainteasers, technical proficiency tests and problem-solving questions.
  • When faced with these questions, it is important to show your ability to communicate technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner and describe your work processes.

How to prepare for a tech test.

These are our tips on how you might prepare for your tech test.

Prepare and practice.

  • If you are applying for tech roles that will require a tech test, you are likely to know this. This means that you can start early.  Don’t cram your preparation.
  • Aim to solve 2-3 coding interview practice questions per day.
  • If you need practice questions, head to a site such as Interview Cake.
  • Resources like these will provide you with masses of practice technical job interview questions as well as letting you know the right way of thinking about them.
  • If it is a coding job you are applying for, practice your coding by hand on a whiteboard or piece of paper.

Create a realistic interview situation.

  • Consider imposing a deadline on yourself to get accustomed to working under time pressure.
  • As much as you can, create a realistic interview scenario. Your prep will be more effective as a result.

Build projects.

  • If your tech test is on-site, come to the interview with a relevant project to talk about.
  • If you have time, you could even build a relevant project to showcase.
  • This is a great tactic. It will allow you to flip the conversation from being grilled to one that documents your ability.
  • If you do this, make sure that your build project, at the very minimum, matches the complexity of the work for the job you are applying to. Prospective employers can then see that you are able to work at the desired level.

Do mock coding interviews.

  • Live coding interview preparation is invaluable if you want to get comfortable and polished.
  • Online coding tests are great for if you want to improve your speed or technical ability.
  • Mock coding or technical interviews with peers can also help to enhance your soft skills. Sites such as Pramp.com offer realistic coding interviews for free.

Get a study buddy or a coding mentor.

  • Have you got a friend or colleague with similar job goals? If so, help each other.
  • Study coding concepts and problem-solve together. Remember, talking through the methodology is an element of the interview.

Never turn down a tech test interview.

  • Even if a company isn’t your dream employer, never turn down an opportunity to attend a technical interview.
  • The more you complete, the stronger a candidate you will become.
  • In the best case scenario, you are one step closer to a job. Worst case scenario, you are one lesson closer to acing your next tech test.

Technical Interview Tips.

Here are a few tips on how you can stand out as a great candidate during a technical interview.

Explain your reasoning.

  • Many technical interview questions have a specific correct answer.
  • This means that getting it right, is only half the battle. You need your right answer to stand out from the other right answers!
  • To do this, you must explain your problem solving process and the logic you used to arrive at your answer.

Know different methods for solving a problem.

  • Despite the right or wrong nature of most technical interview questions, some questions have several answers that could be correct.
  • When you are answering a question that could take you down several routes, you must be sure to explain your process and why you have chosen the path you did.
  • Explain that you know there were other options. If possible highlight why you DIDN’T choose one of them.
  • Make it clear that you know how to use each method to find the solution.

Ask for clarification, if you need it.

  • Sometimes you may be asked a question that doesn’t provide you with all you need. You may need additional information to answer it properly.
  • If you need clarification, ask for it.
  • It could be that the interviewer knows that they haven’t given you all you need. The real test here could be your understanding of what is needed to do the job in hand.
  • You will also exhibit your will to ask for direction and help should you need it.

Elaborate on answers you don’t know.

  • If you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know.
  • However, elaborate on your answer by explaining how you would go about finding the information for the answer if this was a problem facing you on the job.
  • This tells the interviewer you will search for information to solve any problems if you don’t know how to do something.

 Be prepared to prove your skills.

  • Many technical interviews include a section where you are required to prove your skills through a series of brainteasers, whiteboard coding challenges or remote coding assignments.
  • When faced with these you should be prepared to talk through your reasoning process and explain the steps you are taking, or have taken to answer the question.

Have a process to deconstruct the question.

  • Technical interviews are meant to be tough.
  • In a good interview, you will always be thrown a curveball. Expect problems that you can’t solve straight away.
  • Anticipate this and form a system to deconstruct these tricky questions.
  • Think PEDAC.

P – Problem – understand the problem

  • Identify expected input and output
  • Make the requirements explicit
  • Identify rules
  • Mental model of the problem (optional)

E – Examples

  • Validate understanding of the problem

D – Data Structure

  • How we represent data that we will work with when converting the input to output.

A – Algorithm

  • Steps for converting input to output

C – Code with intent.

  • Implementation of Algorithm


  • A disciplined approach, such as PEDAC, helps you identify and avoid the pitfalls you may encounter when you don’t code with intent.
  • If you are too quick off the mark and work without a process, you risk failing to meet the requirements and handle the edge cases. You may also produce programs that are hard to understand, maintain, and scale.

Your tech test.  Sample Questions.

Here are a few common technical interview questions and some suggestions about how you might answer.

  • What coding language are you most comfortable with?

The interviewer will probably ask you a question about the coding languages you know to determine whether you have a comprehensive understanding of how to use the language they expect you to use and whether you are comfortable using more than one language.  it is important to mention the specific coding languages you have worked with and are comfortable with.  Then, choose one specific coding language you are most comfortable with and explain why.

  • What is a SAN, and how is it used?

This interview question is testing your technical knowledge related to a specific network you will need to be familiar with to be successful in your role.  When answering, it is important to clearly define what SAN stands for, what it does, and how you would use it in the role you are applying for.

  • When is it appropriate to denormalise database design?

This question offers a more complicated example.  It is testing whether you know how to identify the pros and cons of choosing to use denormalisation for database optimisation.  Because denormalisation will have an impact on what a database can do, it is important to clearly explain the pros and cons of using this method and identify when it would be appropriate to use.

  • What is the role of continuous integration systems in the automated-build process?

This question is being asked to make sure you understand what continuous integration systems are and how they are used in the automated build process.  When answering this question, clearly define what continuous integration is and then explain how it is used in the automated build process.

  • If you had a page that’s experiencing performance issues, how would you go about figuring out the bottleneck?

This open-ended question is simultaneously assessing your knowledge of fundamentals, and allowing you to show off your depth of understanding. These open-ended questions let interviewers identify those who can work at a deeper engineering level. The only way to stand out is to understand the fundamental concepts that underpin the feature in question.

As you can see from our sample answers, you need to be analytical and strategic in your approach.

Read between the lines, define each concept, and then address the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’.

The interview process can floor even the most confident of us. If you need help with your interview technique, or advice on how to tackle particular elements of it head over to our employee advice pages on our blog. These articles are designed to ensure you are equipped to deal confidently with every interview scenario you encounter.

For some quick links, click here

How to tackle the most common interview questions.

How can I improve my presentation skills?

How to ace your remote interview.

How to answer “Why are you leaving your job?” in an interview.


Good Luck!

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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