11 Mistakes To Avoid On A Technical Interview

Elena on May 14, 2018

This article was first published in my blog smartpuffin.com. You're in for a technical interview. They ask you a question, and you have to buil... [Read Full]
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Great, awesome, wonderful advice! Explaining the method to your madness goes such a long way. 10+ points to the interviewee if they don't use buzzwords.

Thank you for writing this! Sharing ASAP.


I don't think there's anything wrong with buzzwords as long as you know what exactly they are and they're used correctly.

But generally speaking, the less of them, the better. Yep.


I agree: I'm fine with any technology if it's applicable and if the candidate knows it or about it at least a bit.

Interestingly enough, no one has tried to use blockchain on my interviews yet.)

The day will come when a candidate will answer "How would you sort an array of 10 numbers?" with "Well, have you heard about the blockchain? Let me mansplain it to you " 🤣

And then they start with the history of Blockchain and how great the mystery developer behind is....

Couldn't have been explained more lucidly, thanks Elena :)

Pardon me for asking a silly question but how would you recommend handling the situation if the Interviewer does all of it instead of the candidate?

Hi Vinay,
Haha, that must be funny :). Depending on what they do, sometimes I wouldn't want to work with them, whatever side of the interview they're on. I think during the interview I would do the same what I do now: politely listen, ask some questions to make sure I'm not imagining things.

Then I would weigh this problem against benefits. Is this place otherwise good to work at? Is it only one person doing that? Was it just one occasion? Maybe I could decline the offer if I decide this is too bad and is very common in that company.

For candidates you can provide feedback, saying, for example, that they didn't motivate their decisions. For interviewers, however, this is not very common practice, so I would just let it go.

And what would you do?

Hi Elena,

Yes it's funny sometimes because it leaves you wondering as to how they got selected in the first place. Most of the times, it's downright rude!

Since I believe in the theory "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you" so I always strive to listen, ask queries about the company and role I went in for and in general interact courteously during interviews. Regardless of my skills, I like to make a positive impression of myself wherever I go for an interview - in person or remote.

Also, I'd have a similar approach as your second point which needs atleast 1-2 more interviews with different team-members to determine answers to those questions but then again, you're at a company's mercy to be getting it.

Quick question - What should a person do if a company gave them a very good offer and appears to be a good place to work but they found the aforementioned interviewer would be their senior or lead?

Thank you for your reply, Vinay.
I don't know what I would do in that case, honestly. I guess I would very carefully weigh all pros and cons - just like when you encounter any other "con". I don't think there's a universal recipe.

Have you been in a situation like this? What did you do?

Thanks for the response, Elena!

While I understood that careful evaluation of all pros and cons is the way to determine whether to take the job offer however even I've never been in a scenario like the one I mentioned until now.

Assuming if I were to, I'd have a one-to-one discussion to let that person know a good professional rapport is a two-way street which I believe would do the trick :)


Great article.

Also, "I don't know, could you please explain to me?" or "I've never done that before. How does that work?" are viable answers. It shows you have a sense of humility and are willing to admit that you don't know everything.


Well, I came to this post only because of puffins so I'd say the photo works ;)

Also, you seem to have pretty cool recruitment process and I envy you this - compared to what I usually experience ("hey, we have 3 candidates and we HAVE to hire two of them").

However, I would not necessarily agree with corner cases mistake. It is important in real life, however in a stressful situation such as job interview I think it's better to leave them out. If not, it usually ends up in getting in too many details and losing the big picture. This is only my experience though and our mileage may vary.


I see your point about too many details. Maybe if you suspect it's going to take long, it is worth asking the interviewers if they want you to list them and/or to work around them? This way you'll show your ability to think about them, even if they say to leave them out.


Thanks Elena. Great article 😊😊
I want to ask something. What do you think is the most common mistake in students to apply internships? I'm in the 8 level in the University and I'm searching a good company for work how intern. What do you recommend me??


Hi Jean Karlo,
Good luck with the university! I just googled what "level 8" means, and it seems like you did a great job. Congrats!

And good luck with finding a job! I'm sure you'll do great!

Regarding common mistakes. I was thinking for a couple of minutes and couldn't really come up with a "list of mistakes". Instead, I came up with a list of great qualities that I saw them having.
In my opinion, students and recent graduates usually do very well because they're excited about the industry, the job, and are very eager to learn. It's okay if they don't know everything (no one does, really), and it's perfectly fine if they honestly admit that. I appreciate the honesty.
They also usually react well to feedback - for example, to code reviews, or if someone gives them an advice to watch for code quality, or how to organize their code better. They learn very quickly, and they have an open mind.

When I think back to when I was starting (now I sound like an ancient person, haha), I think that I could do better in understanding the requirements before building stuff. I would be excited about building a feature and would, naturally, be busy with building it, when instead I should have asked questions: why do the users need it? Is what I'm building the best for them? Do I understand the full picture? Did the product owner / business analytic / project manager / user researcher explain all details to me?
In the end I would sometimes have a great feature, which is not what the users wanted.
But again, it's perfectly fine to make mistakes and learn from them. Don't let anyone judge you for making an honest mistake. :)

Good luck in job hunting!


Thanks Elena. Your advice is so useful for me.
I said "I'm in level 8" because in my University is required pass 10 levels to complete the career. I don't belive is same to you found, or no? but Let me tell you, I'm so excited to start my career in this world and I'm goin to follow your advice especially one, "Try to understand need of user".


Thank you for those advices, about 2 weeks ago I made a mistake that you mentioned, I didn't explain well one question that my interviwer made me, and I knew that screwed up the interview.

The mistake was that my interviewer asked me "Why will you use node.js and not Java?" and I said "Honestly, I don't like Java, I hate it!" but I didn't explain with details why, after that the guy told me "everything here is written in Java", so I felt embarrassed and I also knew that I buried any opportunity, now I think that I could have used anothers words to explain why I don't like Java.

this article is fantastic!!


You really should have known their framework before taking the interview though. You sort of dodged a bullet too. Would you really want a job using a framework you dislike?

(I don't like Java either. ;) )


What you mentioned here is completely relatable. I admired your post, Elena :)


Wow thanks Elena, this was really timely as i am preparing for a technical interview tomorrow


Thank you Elena. The article was really helpful. Keep writing...


Great read. Thanks for sharing Elena. If you like puffins, consider visiting 🇨🇦 Newfoundland 🇨🇦. Whales and cool icebergs too. 🐋


Aw, thanks! I'd love to. Maybe one day :)


I aways read this type of article in internet and all the time is the same tips, but you bring to us the "missing corner cases" in interviews. Thanks and keep posting :)


Thanks! I'll be sure to remember this for a while. :)


If you use a word and don't know what it means, it's a buzzword.

Let me elaborate a bit about how it happens. People are being told they're going to go through a system design interview. They read about system design interviews. They see that load balancers are often mentioned, and they decide: to look good on the interview I should use a load balancer. And they are trying to put it in at any cost.

Now, if they never used load balancers and didn't read about them, they sometimes misunderstand the purpose of them, and it ends up looking suspicious.


I understand all the reasoning, and I am 102% in agreement with pretty much everything in the article (which is very good btw.) I do many interviews and I saw all these symptoms in the real life.

My comment was more of a joke since a buzzword “buzzword” has a well-formed meaning.

an important-sounding usually technical word or phrase often of little meaning used chiefly to impress laymen

Yeah, this is almost what I'm saying :). Although the word itself has meaning, candidates use it without understanding. How would you describe such a situation?

Anyway, thank you, happy you liked the article otherwise :)


Nice, although it's your link to the reasoning stuff that really sold it to me.

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