An onsite interview is the core of all interviewing processes. Up to this point all that you have experienced is just preparation for this main event. Most probably you will be talking onsite with completely different people who have just an overall idea about your performance during the selection process. You may have read in other books that if you are invited to the onsite interview, it means that the company is sure in your technical level and simply wants to see how good you will suite the team. In real life this is hardly true. Don’t make this mistake, as we see many people who arrive for the onsite interview totally unprepared and extremely surprised by taut coding questions. They are sure that all testing had been completed. Depending on the company with which you are interviewing, the form of onsite interview might be different, but they all tend to share the following structural interviews patterns.

“Loop” is probably the most common way of setting up an interviewing process. This can be seen from the software giants to start-up companies. During the loop interview you will meet from three to seven (or more) people sequentially during the day. Each person in the loop will target some specific technical aspects, trying to get a full picture of you as a professional. As you arrive to the company, you will likely meet with the recruiter who will start with initial interview and generic questions about your salary expectations, your previous experience and personal goal.

Then you will be given your interview schedule, which may have a list of your interviewers, the names of the first few, or even just the time spots indicating the length of the interview, as in many cases the loop is a very dynamic process. Your success depends upon your performance during the interviews. The key to success during the loop is to impress the first people in the loop, as at this point they will decide whether you will have a full loop or if your loop will end after the first half. The loop normally will include a lunch interview with one or two others if the team is leaning toward a hiring decision.

As opposed to the loop interview, during a “Panel Interview” you will meet a set of interviewers at the same time. It can be a team or part of the team you are interviewing for, or a number of senior developers from different teams or any other combination of key people from the team or organization. While this type of interview might seem harsh, it is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate one’s communication and social skills.

The last type is the “One-on-One Interview” with the hiring manager. The decision is based solely on this one interview with the hiring authority and is mostly used in very small companies. This is probably the most biased and hard to manage type of interview.

Back to the basis

While there is an unlimited number of different variations and even combinations of these three types of interview, you will clearly identify one or two of them in any interview. While all interviews are different, they all share the same goal, which is to evaluate your professional skills and identify how well you are suited for the particular position.

Think about each conversation during the technical interview as a pipeline. While making your way in the pipeline, you will go though the modules (“questions”) the interviewer decided to put in, depending on the interview goals. While there are no boundaries, each block of questions works on a specific interview goal, whether it is a technical, informational or behavioral interview. The interviewer will pull out the questions from the pool based on the interview goals and your previous answers. Most technical interviews fall into this model.

The main secret is while the questions pool is unlimited and there is no way you can read all possible questions that can be asked during the interview, the set of modules is finite and actually quite small. Browser through the technical interview section on this side and read possible questions and answers.

If you prepare smart, you can learn and understand just a few of the most typically asked questions and problems. This forms the basis, allowing you to easily solve almost any problem from that module during the interview.

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