Just Interview Me

Ready to take the interview? Be sure to review the interview tips and prepare yourself. Remember, many employers will read your responses, so you want to invest enough time to impress them all! Review the questions below and then start the interview.

General Questions

These questions are standard and apply to everyone. Focus on the behavioral questions and how to highlight what makes you special.

  • What do you want to learn or what goals do you want to accomplish in your next job?
  • What cities/areas are you willing to work?
  • Are there any companies in particular you are interested in?
  • What do you like about those companies?

These questions ask you how you behaved in certain situations. The goal is to learn how you make decisions and handle and react to different  types of situations. Provide enough detail and background to clearly communicate the situation and your actions.

Major life decision

  • Describe a major decision you made recently (e.g., choosing university, moving, getting married, etc.). Why did you make the choice you made?
  • Knowing what you know now, would you make the same decision? Why or why not?

Systems thinking and process efficiency

  • What is a process in your current work or life that you find inefficient or full of waste. For example, conducting structured interviews is really inefficient because it takes time for an interviewer and there’s no guarantee questions will be asked consistently.
  • How can you improve the process to make it more efficient or remove waste?
  • Tell me about a time where you introduced a new or novel approach to solving a problem or completing a task. What motivated you to try something different?
  • What motivated you to try something different?
  • How did you convince others to try your approach?

Passion and effort

  • Describe a situation where you went above and beyond the call of duty. For example, you did more than was required or expected of you, or maybe you were able to pull off something people thought was hopeless.
  • What motivated you to put in that extra effort?

Technology Roles

These interview questions focus on technology-related roles. If you are involved in software development, these roles are for you.

These questions give you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of data structures and also how you learn from experience. Very rarely do we make the best choice first, so discuss what hindsight you gained that would change your solution if you were to do it again.

  • Tell me a time where you used a data structure that you later regretted. What data structure did you use?
  • Why did you choose that data structure?
  • What would have been a better data structure? Please explain why.

Refactoring is an essential part of software development. These questions give you a chance to show how effective you are at refactoring.

  • Describe a time when you had to refactor (i.e. re-write/clean up) code you or someone else wrote. Why did you need to refactor it?
  • Was it easy or difficult to change your code?
  • What improvements did you make to the code?
  • How did you ensure the code you changed had the same functionality as before you made the change?

Relational databases are used in many architectures. Here’s a chance to share your experience working with them.

  • Do you know SQL?
  • Describe a time you had to resolve a slow database query. If you’ve never experienced this, say ‘skip’.
  • Describe a time when you designed a database table or set of tables. What were the main design considerations when you created the tables? If you’ve never done this, say ‘skip’
  • Please provide an example or situation where it makes sense to not normalize a database table.

Many applications today rely on data from a web-based API. These questions help determine your familiarity with them.

  • Are you familiar of REST APIs?
  • Describe a REST API you created or used. Say ‘no experience’ if you’ve never used nor created one.
  • What did you dislike or find difficult when using the API? For example, with S3 it is difficult to get a set of buckets in a single request.

Over time, we all develop our own tricks that help us be more effective or efficient at our jobs. Here’s a chance to share some knowledge and show where you’ve developed expertise.

  • What is a programming convention that you do that you think others should also do? For example, I dislike excessive indentation and will use temporary variables to shorten line lengths.

Javascript is a complex ecosystem with many competing and overlapping tools. The tool decisions you make tend to reflect the programming values you care about.

  • Do you prefer to use ES5 or ES6 syntax. Why? If you don’t know, say ‘i don’t know’
  • What’s your favorite front end framework? e.g. Angular, React, Vue, etc.
  • What do you like about it? How has it made your life better?
  • What don’t you like about it? Is there anything that is really tedious or difficult to do in the framework?
  • In a webapp, interface components/widgets are used over and over. What design patterns do you use to make it easy to reuse a component?

Testing is an important ingredient in any software practice. How effective and repeatable is your methodology?

  • How do you test your Javascript code?
  • What’s you favorite Javascript testing framework? Say ‘none’ if you haven’t used any.
  • Why do you like this framework the most? If it’s the only framework you know, what do you like about it?

Asynchronous programming is a staple of Javascript. How well do you understand the challenges of async programming?

  • Have you ever used asynchronous programming? For example, most AJAX calls are asynchronous.
  • Why are asynchronous calls used when making an AJAX request?
  • How do you trigger an action once an asynchronous call finishes? Feel free to provide a code example with commentary.

Let’s talk about APIs and data. Demonstrate your experience working with data in Javascript.

  • Why is JSON so common as a data format?
  • Provide code to show how you would extract from the “data” element list of lists all winning numbers (10th field) in this JSON. For reference, the first string is “04 14 22 43 58”.

Node.js is a major piece of the Javascript ecosystem. Share your familiarity with it and how you’ve used it.

  • Have you used webpack for front-end development?
  • How has it improved your development process? Please be specific.
  • Have you ever used node or npm for front-end development?
  • What do you like about developing with node?
  • How would you improve node or npm? In other words, what is something you think is inefficient, inconsistent, or tedious in node that could be improved/done better? How would you make it better?

As a front-end or full stack developer, you’re expected to also know the essentials of back-end development, so check out those questions as well.

Give some insights into QA that you’ve learned.

  • What is the purpose of QA? How does it benefit software and product development?

QA and test automation rely on a strong grasp of algorithms. Not necessarily for manipulating data structures, but everyday algorithms that describe processes. Some people call these workflows.

  • Describe a step-by-step algorithm for a daily routine you do. Include as many details as you see fit. For example, to brush my teeth I pick up my toothbrush, pick up toothpaste in other hand, open toothpaste, apply toothpaste to toothbrush, put water on toothbrush, put toothbrush in my mouth, brush teeth.
  • What’s an edge case in your algorithm? In other words, if someone else were to follow my algorithm, how might they break the algorithm? For example, some people may not put water on their toothbrush prior to brushing.

Repeatability is essential for ensuring a reliable and robust system.

  • How do you automate tests to ensure they are repeatable?
  • How do you automate tests for a GUI? (you can say ‘no experience’ if you’ve never done this)
  • What are some limitations with your approach?
  • How would you improve your approach?

Talk about the tools you use and share some insights into how it’s improved your QA practice.

  • Describe how you use a tool or library to make QA tests. For example, pytest automates running unit tests.
  • What’s a feature of the tool/library that you can’t live without? For example, it is easy to selectively run tests in pytest, and I can also run the debugger from within a unit test.
  • Please provide a link to your portfolio or examples of your work
  • What is good design to you? Another way to put it is why do you think design matters? Why should we spend time designing a user experience?
  • Spend a moment to think about a webapp or mobile app that you think has good usability. What is the app and what makes it easy to use?
  • What about an app with poor usability? For example, I’m not a fan of the Grab app for taxis, because it’s slow and is trying to do too many things. What is an app that you think is difficult to use and why?
  • What is an interface element in web sites, webapps, mobile apps, etc. that you think is overused and ultimately is a detriment to the user experience? For example, I think notifications are overused. Every app wants your attention for any little thing, which is too distracting. There are so many notifications that I turn them all off!
  • Explain your design process to me. How do you go from idea to a user experience? How do you know the UX is effective?
  • What role does (in)consistency play in a design? For example, should buttons all have the same look and feel? Does it ever make sense for an icon to mean two different things?

Other Roles

These roles are not technology-specific. Don’t see your field? Let us know so we can add it.

The following questions offer you a chance to demonstrate how you plan and set goals.

  • What do you want to learn from your internship?
  • Explain how your experience or coursework will help you accomplish this goal.
  • What is your major?

These questions give you an opportunity to describe what is challenging to you and how you overcome those challenges. Employers want to see that you are resourceful and can persevere even when there are obstacles in your way.

  • What has been your most challenging course so far?
  • What made the course challenging?
  • And how did you overcome this challenge?

While tools and techniques are important, describing how you work is a good indicator of your familiarity with data science. Here’s your chance to show how effective your process is.

  • Suppose I asked you to create a model to classify the language of a sentence. How would you go about creating a dataset to train this model?
  • What are some problems that you might encounter when training with your dataset?
  • What error measures (e.g. accuracy, precision, recall, MAE, RMSE) would you use for your model? Why?
  • How would you decide what acceptable performance is for your model, given your error metric?
  • What steps can you take to improve the performance of a model?
  • How do you determine which features are most important in your model?
  • Describe a time you used regularization to improve your model. How did you decide the term to use? Note this does not necessarily mean using L1 or L2 norm. If you don’t know, just say “i don’t know”.

Data analysis requires some form of visualization. Whether you’re a whiz or just use crude, built-in graphics, show us how you can use visualization to communicate information.

  • What is your favorite tool or library for data visualization. If you don’t have experience with this, say ‘no experience’.
  • Use that library to produce a working code sample similar to this graph.
  • How would your code be different if I wanted to display two arbitrary data series? Feel free to enter a different code snippet.

Yes, tools are important. Here are a few sanity check questions to see what experience you have with core tools and languages.

  • Do you have experience with numpy?
  • What’s something that numpy does that is different from “normal” Python?
  • Do you have experience with R?
  • What’s something that R does that is unique or different from other languages you’ve used?

As a data scientist, you’re expected to also know the essentials of back-end development, so check out those questions as well.

These questions are for candidates that have sales experience. Show how effective your process is and how you’ve managed difficult situations.

  • Do you have experience being a sales agent or other type of agent (e.g. real estate)?
  • If so describe the most successful sale you’ve ever made.
  • Tell me about a time you had to close deals to meet quota in a short period of time. How did you manage it?
  • Describe a time you persuaded someone to buy insurance after having refused at first.
  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with an aggressive client. How did you handle it?
  • What are some ways you build trust with clients?
  • How do you show the customer that they are valued and important?
  • Tell me one way you have tried expanding beyond your natural market.
  • Was that approach effective? Why/why not?

Let’s understand your motivations and what makes you unique.

  • What interests you in being an insurance agent?
  • How do you differentiate yourself from your peers?
  • Being an agent requires resilience as you’ll be rejected over and over. How will you stay resilient and positive despite so many ‘no’s?
  • Explain to me why you are trustworthy.
  • Give me an example of how you went out of your way to help someone.
  • Insurance agents must juggle many relationships. How do you stay organized to stay on top of a busy schedule?