Four things NOT to say during your software interview

October 24, 2019
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A man in glasses is holding up sticky notes in front of a glass wall.

Job interviews can be gruelling, but those in the software industry are often something else entirely.

Even low-level interviews can take place over multiple rounds and involve extensive whiteboard and aptitude testing. With so much pressure, it can be easy to find yourself at a loss for words or making a slip of the tongue that you simply shouldn’t.

So, here are four things you should never, ever say in an interview and some guidance on helpful alternatives. Starting with-

“Of…course I’ve seen this before!”

If you are unfamiliar with an algorithm or a technical problem, it’s always best to own up to it. Any seasoned interviewer will spot a fudged response and potentially judge you harshly as a result. Speak out, be honest, and use your existing experience to address the question as best you can. And remember, ‘playing along’ can find you steadily digging yourself a hole that can be impossible to escape from.

Instead: “No, I haven’t come across this. But if I were to approach the problem, here are the principles I would follow”

“Our last manager/programmer/client was terrible!”

One key thing your interviewer will gauging is your capacity to work as a part of a team. Being able to maturely deal with challenges and be sensitive to the failings of others is a massive plus for any company. Coding is a very personal, creative process and possessing the ability to give and receive constructive criticism is essential. When talking with potential employers this translated into being magnanimous about team or customer issues and honest where you were personally at fault.

Instead: “There were definitely challenges in my last role and I was given a lot of personal autonomy. Here’s what I learned from it-”

“Yeah, what you’re looking for is-”

One of the biggest possible mistakes in the world of coding is offering a solution to a problem without fully understanding or validating the facts. Almost every interviewer will ask you to provide a whiteboard example and talk them through your processes. Always take a moment to take in the question, understand what needs to be solved and check your variables. Diving in head-first and making assumptions will almost always land you in trouble.

Instead: “Can I take a minute to confirm my understanding of the question and walk you through my thinking before I come to a solution?”


Say it with us…freezing is ok.

Interviews are undeniably stressful and being asked to perform under pressure can quickly leave you locked-up and unable to find a solution. In sports, this is known as choking and quickly results in second guessing your choices and acting like a novice coder. If this is happens, pause, take a breath and briefly recount the question or your work on it from the beginning. This can help kick your brain into gear and give you valuable thinking time to calm your nerves.

Instead: “I’m sorry, can I walk through the question again? I lost my train of thought for a second.”

The final advice we can offer is to reach out us here at Enso Recruitment. We develop careers and we are always happy to help anyone taking the next step in their career. To find out more about how Enso Recruitment can help you, reach out to our team at the following contact details:

Email: info@ensorecruitment.com

Tel: +44 (0)  2890993445

Four things NOT to say during your software interview
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