The common technical phone interview usually performed by senior member of the team or by recruiter.

In the first case, experienced and technically competent interviewers ask very theoretical and open-ended knowledge based questions. They expect to start the conversation by asking a lot of basic IT questions like “How does garbage collection work in .NET”, followed by “Why do we call it non deterministic?”, and them diving into specifics with “Do you know how many generations are in Garbage Collection?”, “Why do we need them?” and so on.
On the contrary, the recruiter who is carrying out initial screening will probably ask very specific questions about particular features or technology and expercts very specific answers.

Some interviewers use a very powerful technique of interviewing I call "Cascade pattern". In this interview pattern, the interviewer follows your answer with a question that is related to your previous answer.

As an example:

Interviewer: "Can you please tell me about your experience?"
Candidate: ".... For the last couple years I have been working as Middle Tier developer using mostly C# and .NET 2.0"

Interviewer: "Which new language features in C# 2.0 have you used?"
Candidate: "Well, there are number of features but the most interesting, from my stand point are generics, anonymous methods, iterators, and partial types"

Interviewer: "Can you tell me more about generics?"
Candidate: "Generics introduced in the .NET Framework refer to the concept of type parameters, which make it possible to design classes and methods that defer the specification of one or more types until the class or method is declared and instantiated by client code..."

Interviewer: "You mentioned .NET Framework, can you tell me what is it?"
Candidate: "At the highest level, the .NET Framework is a managed, type-safe environment for developing and executing applications. The .NET Framework consists of two main components: Common Language Runtime and Class Libraries which provides a large body of pre-coded solutions to common program requirements."

Interviewer: "What is Common Language Runtime ?"
...


As you can see, in this interview pattern, the interviewer just flows with your answers by sometimes delving deep into the specifics and other times returning to very simple questions. This allows the interviewer to very quickly understand the candidate’s overall technical level.

There are two main points to remember then dealing with "Cascade" interview pattern

Stick to the topic in question

You should be as accurate in your answers as possible. There is little scope of creative mumbo jumbo in a technical phone interview and if you do not know the answer, it is far safer to admit it than go on and on with some fillers. Often candidates start talking about every topic they know well, even if the question did not demand that. In this case, the interviewer will be far from impressed by your attempt to show that you know everything. Thus, stick to the question asked and do not try to swerve off the set interview pattern

Do not panic after a wrong answer

Again, if you have answered in great detail but realize that this is not what the interviewer was expecting, do not panic. If you feel, you know the answer, try again or else let the interviewer correct you. Do not think that one wrong or unanswered question will spell doom for your job prospects.

Your key point here is to keep conversation going puting the answers in such a way it would follow the direction you want.

In case the interviewer is a non-technical person

If you know that the interview screening is being performed by a non technical person, avoid using jargon and other inside vocabulary in your answers. Speak in sound bites or short quotes that communicate the gist of your message.

Try to be as precise and as exact as possible as you should remember that the person you are communicating with isn’t the interviewer, but the developers who will read her or his notes the next day. Avoid too technical words or acronyms to ensure that the interviewer takes all the answers down correctly. The recruiter often just looks for keywords in your answer and tries to match them with the information he has.

As an example, consider that the interviewer asks you question about Stack. In the answer to this problem he or she is probably looking for the keywords like push/pop and LIFO/FIFO and may consider your ‘correct’ answer wrong if there are no expected keywords in your answer.









Answers and Comments