Once, while interviewing for a developer position, I had a panel interview with nine people.
I am a pretty open and relaxed individual during interviews, but talking to nine people at the same time felt like an audition! And then I remembered: An interview is just that -- an audition.
The interview began with a brief introduction from all parties. Each person gave an overview of what they did, and how long they had been at the company. I normally try to imitate the interviewer’s body language, but it was difficult due to the number of people there.
So I tried my best to keep my body language neutral, and strived to maintain constant eye contact with each individual as they spoke. And, of course, answer their questions. Below are the non-technical and technical interview questions the panel asked me.
Non-technical interview questions and answers
Tell me about yourself.
I was introduced to programming at age 12 and had the wonderful opportunity of working for IBM at 16, while still attending high school. Through the years I have worked for Microsoft numerous times and used .NET for the past 15 years, since its inception.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
My greatest strength is in Microsoft Stack, but I could definitely improve in other programs, like PHP, Java and Oracle.
If you were not in IT, what would you be doing?
I don’t really know. I’ve always pictured myself working in the IT field and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?
I have been in this industry for over 25 years and I feel it’s just impossible to get work done alone. It’s imperative to work with a team. I find that it helps you both achieve and learn more.
How well do you multitask?
I multitask very well, but not every task lends itself to multitasking.
How good are you at talking to customers and end users, and do you mind?
I don’t mind. In fact, I enjoy it. I have an outgoing personality and I like interacting with customers.
Here are five interview mistakes you'll want to avoid.
Technical interview questions and answers
What is inheritance?
Inheritance is one of the OOP principles that allow a class to acquire the features of a base class.
What is an abstract class?
An abstract class is a class that cannot be instantiated.
What is polymorphism?
Polymorphism is also an OOP principle that allows an object to take on many forms. An example of this is the cellular phone. The phone can morph into a music player, a camera and a GPS.
Why has MVC gotten so popular?
It’s a nice, clean way of developing web applications. I think the fact that it supports separation of concerns is tantamount. You can have one person working on the model, another on the view and another on the controller without one affecting the other. And it’s been around for years since it was developed by SmallTalk. Also, Microsoft is pushing the WebAPI right now.
What is the difference between ASP.NET WebForms and ASP.NET MVC?
ASP.NET WebForms features server controls and MVC have HTML helpers. ASP.NET WebForms have Master Pages and MVC have layouts. ASP.NET WebForms have file-based URLs and MVC have route-based URLs.
What source-control applications have you used?
TFS on premises, Visual Studio Online, GitHub and Subversion.
Do you prefer SSRS or Crystal?
Either one: I am comfortable working with both reporting tools.
Do you know what ESB stands for?
Enterprise Service Bus. I recently attended a user’s group meeting at Microsoft on ESB and RabbitMQ.
Once the panel understood my level of comprehension on the various programs they asked about, they took a deeper dive into my specific experience and how I used those technologies to develop my own applications.
My questions to the panel
Now, it was my turn to ask questions. Remember, an interview is a two-way street. It’s not only a chance for a hiring manager (or panel, in this case) to find out if you’re a good fit for the job, but for you to find out if you want to work at the firm.
I recommend preparing two or three questions before the interview. But don’t forget to think on your feet. More questions may come up during the interview.
I asked the following questions to understand the responsibilities of the position, determine my comfort level and show my interest in the job:
- Is this a new position?
- What are the day-to-day activities of this position?
- What methodologies are used? Agile? Waterfall?
- Do you conduct code reviews?
- What types of security are you using in the applications?
- Any plans to migrate to the cloud?
In the end, while this firm was interested in hiring me, I accepted another position. But I’m glad that I went through the process. It was a very good learning experience, and it gave me more insight on how different companies are using software to make their businesses more efficient.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t panic. If I can get through a nine-person panel interview, so can you.
Jacques Daniels is an API and Web Developer for the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
This post has been updated to reflect more current information.