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Technical Knowledge Interviews

What are technical knowledge interviews?

Technical knowledge interviews involve asking you questions about your domain in an attempt to see if you understand its underlying theory. Technical knowledge interviews are a mixed bag: sometimes they're performed well and truly measure whether the candidate is knowledgeable about their domain. In some cases, however, companies test a candidate's knowledge of little-known language features or other trivia. Fortunately, I have seen the former case more than the latter case, especially in recent job searches. I think (or at least I hope) companies are coming around to the fact that nuances can be easily googled and underlying theory is far more important.

How to prep for technical knowledge interviews

Studying for technical knowledge questions is actually fairly simple, but can be time-consuming. It's also stressful because every software development domain has tons of associated theory. You can't possibly know it all!

The way I study for these interviews is to:

  1. Find relevant lists online. People have contributed large lists of knowledge questions online for various domains. Find some relevant to your domain (I list a couple below).
  2. Skim through the list. Read through these lists. Hopefully you know how to answer a decent number of questions on the list (it's okay if you don't!). For any topic you don't quite know, write it down on your own separate list.
  3. Flash cards! Call me old-fashioned, but I really like flash cards for developing knowledge. There are phone apps nowadays, so it's even easier. My recommendation is to make a flash card for each topic you need to understand a little better. The nice thing about flash cards is you might be able to multitask with them. For example, if you commute on the subway to work you could turn that into technical knowledge flash card time.

Some relevant lists

Here are some lists I have used to find technical concepts to study: