The Ultimate Guide To Tech Interviews in 2023

How many windows are there in New York City?

What’s the most creative way you can break a clock?

Tricky questions to answer under the best of circumstances. Throw in the pressures of the job interview environment, and they can seem downright impossible. However, odd questions such as these are indicative of the hoops that tech candidates must jump through in order to bag the top positions – and that’s making no mention of the technical challenges all candidates must also inevitably face. 

Ask any tech professional right now, and they’ll likely all tell you the same thing: interviews are getting harder – an interesting trend, given that top talent is becoming harder to attract. With this in mind, we’ve created the ultimate guide to tech interviews in 2023, to guide you get through the process.

What are the stages of a technical interview? 

The exact structure of tech interviews will vary depending on the company and the position, as well as the time the whole process will take from start to finish. For example, at Google, interviews for software developers consist of five to seven separate sessions in total, over a period of around three months! Despite this, however, the process at many companies will look quite similar, as we’ll explain.

Getting your CV noticed

Naturally, to enter into the interview phase, you will need to have crafted a CV that clearly sets out your achievements, ideally to catch the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager in six seconds or less. A key tip for tech candidates is to use a metric-driven approach which clearly sets out not only what you achieved, but by what method, and by how much. You should aim to use the following formula: 

Accomplished X, as measured by Y, by doing Z

For example, instead of stating that you ‘reduced server query response time’, you should explain that you ‘decreased server query response time by 15% by restructuring our API’. Simple, but effective. Once you’ve mastered this technique and disseminated your CV amongst recruiters and on the appropriate platforms, it shouldn’t be long before the interview offers come rolling in. 

First stage: Phone screening

If a company liked your CV and want to know a little more about you, they’ll likely invite you to a short phone chat lasting between 15 and 30 minutes. Alternatively, if you’re working with a recruiter, they may undertake this stage of the process on behalf of your potential employer. Here are some common questions at this stage:

Tell me a little about yourself

Why are you applying for this position?

What do you know about our organisation already?

Explain what you do in your current role

Describe your typical working week

What are your biggest strengths? 

What is your greatest weakness?

What are your salary expectations?

As well as your answers, prospective employers and recruiters will also be taking a keen interest in your attitude and demeanour, with a view to establishing whether you’d be a good fit for their company culture. 

Preparing for phone screening for a tech role

Phone screening at this stage will likely just feel like an informal conversation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to prepare. For instance, it’s vital to learn as much about the organisation you’re interviewing with as possible in order to explain why you want the position, as this will earn you points for initiative and enthusiasm. You should also practise answering certain interview questions you’re likely to come up against such as those listed above so that you’re not fumbling over your words. 

Second stage: remote coding interview/assignment 

Many companies will want to get an idea of your technical skills before moving on to the next stage of the process. This might also be conducted over the phone, through Zoom or Skype, or may even be a ‘homework style’ assignment for you to complete in your own time. You can expect this stage to take around an hour of your time. Questions might focus on your ability to build or debug, or demonstrate your competence with data structures and algorithms. If the interviewer is present, you’ll also be able to talk through your thought processes during the challenge, and give them a window into your problem-solving abilities. Remember, making mistakes is fine and even expected, as the interviewer will also be looking to assess your diligence in checking and correcting the code. In addition, they’ll be assessing your use of logical reasoning, best practices, and key soft skills such as communication. The task you’re asked to complete will of course depend on your speciality, along with the function of the business you’ll be joining. However, common data structures tested include linked lists, arrays, stacks, and queues. Common algorithms tested include bubble sort, insertion sort, binary search, and arrays. 

Preparing for a coding interview

The most important thing you can do is research coding questions you think are likely to crop up during the interview, and practise solving these beforehand. There’s a wealth of resources online from sites such as, so it doesn’t hurt to get some pointers from others who’ve been there before. In addition, you should try to mimic actual interview conditions during your prep; practice on paper or using a whiteboard, and set yourself a timer. As you work through the problem, explain your thought processes out loud, and answer any questions you think could crop up about your reasoning and logic. It’s also a good idea to research the company you’re interviewing with online, especially if they’re well known within the tech space, as this could lead you to discover specific information as to what challenge you’ll be faced with on the day. Finally, don’t forget soft skills – they’ll want to see that you’re friendly and communicative with a stellar work ethic, so spend some time figuring out how to ensure these qualities shine through. 

Third stage: Onsite interview/whiteboarding challenge

This is the final, and often most dreaded, stage of many tech interviews. Of course, this stage may also be held remotely if you’d be mostly working from home in your new position. If you’d be coming into the office part or full time, however, many companies like to meet you in person to get a more rounded feel for you as an individual, and it’s also an opportunity for you to scope out your potential new working environment. By now, the company will likely have narrowed its list down to two to three candidates, so if you’re one of them, it’s good news. Some onsite interviews may take place over the course of a whole day or even multiple days, and involve meetings with different members of the company. You may even get the chance to meet with potential future co-workers, and the chance to learn about the organisation’s culture from your peers. At other companies, such as startups in the early funding process, this stage may just involve a brief meeting with your direct supervisor, to confirm your suitability for the position. The majority of the time, at this stage you’re also likely to be asked complete coding challenges on a whiteboard in front of your interviewer. How in-depth this stage is will all depend on how competitive the position you’re applying for is, along with the seniority of the role. At Uber, the final interview stage involves six back-to-back interviews!

Preparing for your third-stage tech interview

At this point, you might be faced with some of the same questions that cropped up during your phone screening, as you’ll be speaking with different people, and they’ll want to hear more in-depth answers. Alongside this, you could be faced with some more creative interview questions that force you to think outside the box a little, as we alluded to earlier. Here are some examples from popular tech companies:

How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle? – Google

What would you do if you were the one survivor in a plane crash? – Airbnb

How does the internet work? – Akamai 

If you were a pizza delivery driver, how would you benefit from scissors? – Apple

How would you solve problems if you were from Mars? – Amazon

As you can see, it pays to be prepared for all kinds of questions, as even lesser-known tech companies often take inspiration from the greats. In addition, you’ll likely face some probing about your technical skills. You’ll need to dive in to how you solve particular coding problems, the steps you take when debugging code, and assess your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your coding abilities. Do plenty of research and ensure you’re prepared for any question that might come your way, but don’t worry if you can’t immediately answer the question – your approach and problem-solving skills are often just as important as the specific answer. To help refine your interview technique, it’s a great idea to practise beforehand with a friend or family member who can give you helpful feedback. They may not know if the answers you give are correct, but they can certainly give you pointers as to how to improve your interpersonal skills. When it comes to preparing for whiteboard challenges, again, practise is key. Set up a specialised area in your house to recreate this part of the interview, and run through as many questions you can find on the internet as possible. Lastly, don’t forget to do more research into the company you’re interviewing with – give their LinkedIn a thorough browse, along with their website. Your recruiter will also be able to give you some great insights into the company’s culture and values, along with useful information on the people who will be interviewing you. 

What questions should you ask in a tech interview?

The questions you ask at the end of your interview serve a couple of purposes. Firstly, it’s a chance to show that you understand the organisation and its future goals. Secondly, it’s an opportunity for you to scope out the role and the company further, to determine whether or not it’s the right fit for you. Some questions you ask could include:

What does a typical day look like in this role?

Why did the previous employee leave?

How much independent action is required in this role, versus working off a provided list?

What is the definition of success for this role?

I read that your company has recently been excelling in X sector. What plans do you have to build on this in the future?

What does your company do to take care of employee wellbeing?

Will any training be offered prior to me starting this position? 

What should you bring with you to a tech interview?

There’s no need to bring anything special that you wouldn’t bring along to a regular interview, but it’s important to have a notepad, pen, and printed copies of your CV. Don’t bring along your laptop or coding samples, unless it’s specifically requested beforehand.

Ready to make your mark on the tech world?

We hope this ultimate guide to tech interviews in 2023 has been helpful. If you’re a tech professional on the hunt for your next career challenge in Europe’s thriving startup scene, you’re in luck. You can search all our positions here, or get in touch with one of our expert consultants for a confidential discussion.  

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