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Technical interviews for graduate roles: the basics

Technical interviews for graduate roles: the basics

For some career sectors you may be invited to a technical interview, which will be used to assess specialist skills.

If you are applying for a graduate position in an engineering, technology or science company, chances are you’ll get an interview containing technical questions. Some employers favour a separate technical interview, whereas others prefer to include technical questions in a general interview.

You'll find resources to help you with technical and engineering interviews from our partners at Shortlist.Me.

Know the basics of your subject inside out

Interviewers are sure to quiz you in-depth about your course. Revise the basics that everyone in your discipline should be secure on, and place particular focus on topics that relate to the employer's area of work.

Be prepared to talk about projects you have worked on

Technical interviewers often focus on project work as it is through this most technical graduates have the opportunity to do more independent work, go deeper into a subject, structure work and solve problems.

Be ready to give a brief summary of what your project focused on, situations you faced, how you overcame problems and the final results.

If you have been involved in a group project, make sure you can distinguish your own contribution. Talk about what 'you' did and the parts that 'you' took responsibility for.

Use experience to back up your technical knowledge

If you have any project work or vacation experience that is particularly relevant to the job you are going for, practise summarising it. You could produce a short digest of the information and take it with you to the interview. Use it to illustrate your answers or leave it with the interviewer when you finish.

It's not always about getting the correct answer

Technical interviewers may ask you to comment on a range of scenarios or hypothetical situations. You may not know the answer to everything you are asked, but try to show the interviewer how you might go about solving the problem, or finding the information you would need to answer the question.

Remember that your interviewer is not just interested in your technical knowledge – they also want to see how you reason, and how you approach problems. If you’re totally stumped you may get a few pointers, but you need to be able to pick up the thread and keep going.

Demonstrate your communication skills

The interviewer will also look for more personal skills. You need to show that you can work well with others and communicate clearly, avoiding technical jargon.