Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

So I've gotten past the technical interviews for a company, and now I'm having an interview with my potential host for an internship during the summer.

What are some tips for interviews like these? I know they're not really technical, but I'm not sure what exactly they are meant to gauge. Any tips on what to say, how to show my interest in the project, questions I should ask, etc.?


Edit:

Side question: What's a good synonym for the word "interesting" or "interested"? I find that I use those words a bit too often (e.g. "I'm definitely interested in working on the front-end!" or "Yeah, that sounds really interesting, I would love learning more about it." or "Those all sound really interesting, I'm definitely interested in all of them!", etc.)... but I can't seem to find any good synonyms. (Online sites don't really give me good synonyms.) Any ideas?

share|improve this question
    
Ask your side question on english.stackexchange.com. –  TRiG Jun 10 '11 at 15:20
    
@TRIG: Done :) –  Mehrdad Jun 10 '11 at 15:41
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Interviews like that really are meant to gauge a few things about you:

  • Personality and fit - They want to know how you are as a person, determine if you're friendly, or a jerk, or a potential problem
  • Communication skills - Can you talk clearly, express yourself without struggling or rambling on and on
  • Ability to work with them - They will probably already have an idea of the kind of person they want to bring on board, someone that complements their team or they feel could be helpful - this could mean they want to know how you work as part of a team or how you resolve problems in a team environment.
  • Interest - If they want an intern, they want one that (at least pretends to) shows an interest in what they do - read about the company, find out what stuff they do, see if there's anything really interesting about them you want to ask about

Technical style questions you might like to ask are:

  • I've read about your company's project, but it's not really descriptive of the stuff I want to know about. Can you tell me what interesting stuff you've worked on for this project?
  • What kind of technologies are being used in this project?
  • What is the development process like?
  • What exactly would be my role in this project? (If no one else can tell you anything before the interview)
share|improve this answer
    
+1 for the last question ("What would be my role in the project?"), for some reason that just didn't come to my mind. –  Mehrdad Mar 10 '11 at 3:34
add comment

Be prepared for behavioural type questions. I've found that even though they may not be explicitly giving you a behavioural interview, learning to structure response to these types of questions make you feel much easier about answering them.

Tell me about a time when there was a dispute within a team you were working in, how did you deal with it?

The biggest lesson I learnt was to use the STAR method to structure your answer:

  1. Situation - Describe the context

    When I was working on my final year project in a team of 5 people to build a [sometype of] application when we had a dispute about [something].

  2. Task - The specific task

    We had to deliver [something] to our client, and 2 of our team members wanted to do [this] and the rest of the team wanted to do [this].

  3. Action - The steps you took to resolve the issue

    I got the team to discuss and list the pro's and con's of each approach.

  4. Result - The result of your actions

    I was able to resolve the issue and the team and client was pleased with what we delivered

Also make sure you are talking about what you did specifically, don't talk about things that other people did, they want to hire you for stuff that you have done not your team mates.

Think a lot about things you have done well/enjoyed. Programming tasks that have been fun and challenging. If you can think up several ones for different scenarios, you can usually mould them to meet the question asked. Think about leadership, teamwork, challenges.

And finally research the company, find out what their values are so you can comment on them. Research things they are currently working on so you can ask about them, their progress and so on. Shows that you are really interested in the company. Ask questions specific to the interviewer about their experiences (particularly if they are not from HR and may be someone you will be working with).

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.