CodeGym /Java Blog /Random /Extensive Guide To Preparing For IT Interviews: Tips for ...
Yuliia Tunik
Level 50
San Francisco

Extensive Guide To Preparing For IT Interviews: Tips for Career Switchers

Published in the Random group
Making a transition to an IT field can be rather challenging, especially when it comes to the stage of interviews. Whether you're a seasoned professional from a different industry or a recent graduate looking to break into IT, this comprehensive guide will provide invaluable insights and strategies to help you succeed in your job interviews. In this article, we've gathered a wealth of suggestions from an experienced IT professional, our Java mentor, Andrii Latyshev. With over 8 years of experience, Andrii has successfully passed numerous interviews and also helped Junior Java developers on their career journey. He revealed expert tips on preparing for passing the job interviews. Let's dive in. Extensive Guide To Preparing For IT Interviews: Tips for Career Switchers - 1

Step 1. Create a Robust Resume and LinkedIn Profile

Crafting a resume that effectively presents your skills and experience can be daunting, particularly if you're switching a career. How can you create a resume that will capture the attention of recruiters in the competitive IT market? Non-obtrusive design. Remember, you're a developer, not a designer. That's why we recommend you avoid complex templates and hard-to-read fonts. Instead, opt for a minimalistic style that will let recruiters focus on reading who you are and why you're the right fit for this particular role. Make it compact yet informative. Try to resist the urge to list every skill and detail about your background, especially if you have extensive experience. For career switchers and professionals alike, we suggest making a resume of around 2 pages so that recruiters could quickly grasp your key qualifications. Readable layout. Think like a recruiter – your resume should be easy to read and navigate. Choose a style that's comfortable to read and break up the text into well-structured blocks. Your resume should be clear and concise. Extensive Guide To Preparing For IT Interviews: Tips for Career Switchers - 2The resume should include such essential elements:
  • Name and photo (not too personal, not too professional).
  • Contact information (your phone number and email address). Optionally, you may add links to your GitHub and LinkedIn profiles, along with details about your location and preferred work format.
  • Brief professional summary. This section should act as a hook for the recruiter. Try to describe in 2-3 sentences who you are, what you do, and why you're worth the position.
  • Skills. The skills section is crucial for a quick evaluation of your expertise. Try to strike a balance here – list your achievements without downplaying them, while not mentioning technologies you're not proficient in.
  • Education. If you have relevant programming or tech-related education, include this information in your resume. If your education isn't directly related to the IT field, consider omitting it. In this section, you may also add all relevant certificates and courses completed.
  • Languages. Make sure to mention the languages you know and your proficiency level with them.
  • Experience. Arguably, this is the most important section. If you have prior experience, highlight the company name you were working in, your position, and the duties you performed. Also, stress your achievements, the challenges you've tackled, and your problem-solving skills. In case you have no work experience, write about the course(s) you graduated and what projects you've completed.
After you’re done with your resume, it’s high time that you optimized your LinkedIn profile. A nice LinkedIn profile can be as effective as a well-designed resume. Here, you should also list your work experience and skills that can be endorsed by others, boosting your visibility. Also, try to build a network of HR, team leads, senior developers, and project managers. By doing so, you expand your professional circle and increase the likelihood of recruiters noticing you. Extensive Guide To Preparing For IT Interviews: Tips for Career Switchers - 3

Step 2. What to Do with Your Resume

Visit all possible job search websites and apply for all existing Java junior job openings. You need to spam companies with your resume. Furthermore, don't hesitate to apply for Middle positions. Naturally, you'll receive more rejections for such positions, but still, there can be a chance among those rejections. If so, you can start working immediately as a Middle developer, bypassing the Junior stage. It’s also a common practice when a person applies for a Middle position, and after all the interview stages, the company says, "Sorry, you're not suitable for this position, but how about joining us as a Junior?". This may be the ideal scenario for fresh graduates or career switchers. Moreover, keep in mind that every company has a different concept of the Middle level. For some organizations, you may need a year of experience, for others – five years. Don't focus on the requirements of just one company and continue your search. And, most importantly, stop thinking that you lack experience! Another useful suggestion is to write to HRs in private, asking them to consider your resume! Let's say you know a great company where you want to work, and you managed to find their HR on LinkedIn. By applying your resume and writing to HR directly, you'll show your motivation and increase your chances of being noticed. Last but not least, remember that networking can do miracles. A simple example: Andrii Latyshev needed to find a frontend developer and a guy in his team knew a skillful developer who has just become available and was looking for a new job. Thanks to the colleague's recommendation, Andrii Latyshev hired this developer within a week without even publishing a vacancy anywhere. From this story, it's easy to conclude that you shouldn't neglect to build connections. Sometimes, networking is the key.

Step 3. Interview Rounds

Once you get the invitation to the interview, be ready to undergo different stages of the interview. As an example, we can look at typical interview rounds at a MAANG company (Meta, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google).
  1. Screening call. An initial phone call where you may be asked about your experience, background, and other topics without preparation.
  2. Interview with a recruiter. This step aims to assess whether you fit with the company's culture and team dynamics.
  3. Interview with the team. Conversations with potential teammates will help your employers understand how well you can integrate into the team and contribute to collaborative projects.
  4. Technical interview. This is an evaluation of your technical skills and problem-solving abilities. A technical interview may include live coding, algorithmic questions, and system design discussions.
  5. Live coding. A part of the technical interview where you're asked to code and solve problems in real time.
  6. System design. At this step, you’re assessed on your ability to design complex systems and architectures.
  7. Interview with a manager. A conversation with a manager to discuss your experience, goals, and how you'd align with the company's policy.
Take note that these are the most common steps in the hiring process, but each company might have a different set of interview rounds. For example, one company might require 5-7 interview rounds, while another might have just 1-2 rounds before making an offer.

Step 4. Interview with a recruiter

As just mentioned, the interview with a recruiter / HR specialist is aimed to understand whether you're suitable for the company and whether you'll be able to work productively within your team. Here are some tips that can help you prepare for the interview:
  • Be ready that a recruiter will ask you an essential question "Tell About Yourself". Prepare an answer that briefly covers your background, professional achievements, and why you're interested in working at this very company. Keep it concise, mentioning the key points from your resume. Two or three minutes will be enough.
  • Next, be ready to tell about your motivation. Your answer should include your passion for programming and your genuine interest in the company's mission, projects, or culture.
  • Most likely, a recruiter will also ask you why you're willing to change the job. Here, you should focus on positive reasons such as seeking more challenging projects, better growth opportunities, or alignment with the company's goals. Avoid criticizing previous employers or teams.
  • After the interview, take the opportunity to ask a recruiter questions about things that matter to you. You may show your interest in working conditions, team, projects, or salary review policies.
Remember, preparation is key to acing an interview with a recruiter and progressing to the next stage of the hiring process.

Step 5. Technical Interview

Finally, we’ve come up with the most critical part — a technical interview. To get prepared for the technical interview, take advantage of CodeGym's theoretical part. Refresh your knowledge by reviewing the learning materials you've already mastered. Which topics to review for a technical interview? The most common topics for technical interviews with juniors are as follows:
  • Core Java. This topic is quite broad. It incorporates basic Java syntax and more complex topics like multithreading.
  • Algorithms and data structures. Algorithms serve as the main criteria for evaluating your skills and understanding of programming principles. Getting a grasp of data structures is equally important.
  • Unit testing. It would be nice to review JUnit as well. Quite frequently, candidates are asked to write unit tests for their colleagues.
  • Libraries, GUI, and its components. The ability to work with Servlets, JDBC, log4j, and other tools and is highly appreciated among Java juniors. So, don't underestimate their importance during interview preparation.
  • Frameworks. Long gone are those times when knowledge of Spring or Hibernate wasn't typically expected from Java juniors. Today, even interns need to be familiar with them.
As you see, the topics for preparation are fairly comprehensive, so you should allocate your time for reviewing them properly. Try to devote 30-40 minutes to gradually recalling each topic a day, as the brain tends to retain what you learn in the first half-hour. Build a preparation schedule accordingly, and try to avoid procrastination. Never wait until the last moment! For example, if you have an interview scheduled in a few days and you haven't reviewed anything up until that point, attempting to cram the entire CodeGym course in a couple of days won't be effective. However, if you spend at least a few weeks working through a minimum of 5 interview topics, you'll see significant improvement within that time frame.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, If you’re making a career switch to programming, bear in mind that thorough preparation is the key to cracking Java interviews. And we hope this article has provided valuable insights to navigate the transition effectively. Keep in mind that while the path may be challenging, a well-prepared approach can open doors to new and exciting opportunities in IT. So, take your time and get down to honing your skills with CodeGym! Extensive Guide To Preparing For IT Interviews: Tips for Career Switchers - 4