Interview Rehearsals

by Brian Skory

If you think about it, an interview really is a performance of sorts. You're on center stage with the spotlight shining down on you, and everyone else in that room is the audience—watching the show and ready to critique your performance as soon as the curtain comes down. But just as you wouldn't show up on opening night without having attended the rehearsals, nor should you show up for your interview without having engaged in some degree of "interview rehearsal." Candidate after candidate tells me that their interview, though it might not have gone as well as it could have, was at least good practice for the next one. And although that is true, there is plenty of practicing you can do before you get to the interview.

What You Should Be Practicing:
High on the list of things interviewers are looking for is to see how well you articulate your thoughts in response to a question. The question might relate directly to your technical expertise:

"As a ScrumMaster, how would you go about implementing Agile in our environment?"

...or it might be something completely out of the blue:

"Who is your hero, and why?"

Regardless of the question, the important thing is to be able to quickly, on the spot, formulate an answer and articulate it well. This ability generally only comes about with lots of practice. If you really want to put a polish on that ability, we suggest finding a partner who wants to do the same and setting up a few informal get-togethers to simply practice asking and answering questions on a turnabout basis.

What Types of Questions Should You Practice?

There is no shortage of potential interview questions—just do an Internet search. Pick any of these as well as crafting several that relate specifically to your technical discipline (coding questions, etc.). And just to make it tough enough, here are a few of those "out of the blue" ones, all actual questions used by well known tech companies in their interviews.

  • If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them how would you choose which ones to answer?
  • What would you do if you were the one survivor in a plane crash?
  • How many people flew out of Chicago last year?
  • What was the last gift you gave?
  • What was your last risk?
  • What was your favorite 90s jam?
  • If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do?
  • How would people communicate in a perfect world?
  • Have you ever stolen a pen from work?
  • What kitchen tool would you be?
  • If you could be anyone else, who would it be?

When you are practicing these, remember that there isn't a correct answer to any of these—there's simply a well formulated and well articulated, on the spot, answer. With a bit of rehearsal, you should be more than well practiced to field any questions that come your way in an interview.
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