Three Night-Before Tips For Crushing Your Software Engineer Interview

Software Engineering
Exponent TeamExponent TeamLast updated

Having a momentous event to confront in the morning can be a nerve-wracking prospect for many. An interview for a software engineer position at a leading tech company has the potential to be a life-changing and career-defining event.

Whilst you might be feeling a lot of weight on your shoulders, it’s important to remember that a bad software engineer interview experience doesn’t seal the fate of your entire career. If anything, it will be something you can learn from as you continue to develop and hone both your interview and technical skills. In many cases, you can learn more from the unsuccessful interviews than the successful ones.

Some people say that too much night-before preparation can lead to an overactive mind ahead of trying to fall asleep. There’s definitely some truth to this, however, doing preparation in the early hours of the evening is essential to reducing anxiety in your interview - particularly for a software engineer position where technical knowledge is critical.

Staying up all night to prepare will significantly impact your ability to answer an interviewer’s questions with precision and accuracy. It’s not a good idea. You need to find a realistic balance between mental and physical preparation for tomorrow’s event with the aim of lowering your anxiety levels and boosting your confidence.

Mental preparation consists of practicing technical knowledge and interview skills. Physical preparation is about giving your body time to relax and rest in the later hours of the evening, taking you into the morning fully energized and ready to crush it. Here are three night-before tips for crushing your software engineer interview.

1. Practice Common Questions

When it comes to technical questions, it can often be difficult to predict what you will be asked. This uncertainty should be embraced in the interview situation. The interviewers’ objective is to further distinguish you from the other candidates so they can make an informed hiring decision.

However, instead of practicing technical questions, start to consider your responses to common questions that would appear in an interview for any position. Once you feel confident in answering these foundational questions, you will find that many of your answers will be applicable to multiple variations of questions. For example, “what are your biggest strengths as a software engineer?” and “what makes you right for a software engineer role?” can be answered with the same barebones structure, albeit slightly altered and tailored.

2. Compile Research

Looking on a website like Glassdoor can help you gain insight into a company’s culture and interview process. You can search YouTube to see if leading figures at the company have recorded any keynotes or podcasts. When skimming through recorded material, take note of any particular buzzwords that were used to talk about the company. You should also have a thorough read of the original job description and consider how you can tailor your answers to the needs of the company.

If you have any software engineer friends or acquaintances who work at the company, you could reach out to them and ask for advice on what the company looks for in candidates.

3. Get A Good Night’s Rest

It’s very easy for people to downplay the importance of having a good night’s sleep before a job interview. As we mentioned earlier, it’s never a good idea to stay up all night preparing. In the morning, you’ll need to be sharp, on-the-ball and ready to confront this challenge, which applies especially for software engineer interviews, which can be mentally taxing. It will be much more difficult to do this if you’re trying to battle exhaustion and drowsiness.

Whilst some candidates may actively choose to stay up all night preparing, others will find themselves restless and unable to sleep despite wanting to. For the prevention of a restless night, we recommend that you finish any interview preparation before around 9:00pm. This will give you a sufficient amount of time to wind down, clear your thoughts and calmly get ready for bed. If you are suffering from an overactive mind as the night progresses, practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation can be beneficial.

At Exponent, we offer a range of free online courses to help you ace your next software engineer interview. Explore our courses today!

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