What It Takes To Nail A Tech Interview—An Interviewer’s Perspective

Mahogany Aminzia
What It Takes To Nail A Tech Interview—An Interviewer’s Perspective
Sponsored by, Expedia Group

Preparing for a technical interview can sometimes feel daunting, and you don’t quite know where to begin. To demystify the technical interview process at Expedia Group, we spoke to Daniela Veloz, a Senior Software Engineer at Expedia Group who has several years of experience conducting interviews. She gave us an inside look at what interviewers are looking for in candidates. 

At Expedia Group, there are three different types of interviews, and they all assess different aspects of the interviewee ranging from technical skills to soft skills. Here’s what Daniela had to say about being successful in every interview. 

For the first interview, you’ll want to study algorithms in advance.

Daniela emphasized the importance of preparing for the coding/problem interview in advance. Expedia Group is one of many companies that has a technical exam. Learning how to navigate these specific types of questions before  the interview is very important, this way in a timed assessment, you’ll have the tools to navigate complex algorithms with confidence. 

But that doesn’t mean you need to have all the right answers, it’s just as important for you to ask questions along the way. “We expect you to ask questions. Never make assumptions during the interview, it’s the type of interaction we’re looking for that gives you points,” shared Daniela. She explained that this step in the interview examines how you manage data structures, algorithms, and your overall thinking process throughout the assessment. 

Your interviewers need to understand your thought process so they can help you along the way. “If your interviewer sees that you are thinking a certain way and not understanding the problem, they can help you. This is essentially a communication test,” said Daniela. The interviewers recognize that there is no one solution. Hence it’s important to be able to explain your thought process and why you ultimately went with your final solution. 

The second interview is related to software design, not as a system but in the way you approach the problem. Daniela explained that the interviewers don’t expect students and recent grads to necessarily have experience working in software design systems, what’s more, important is that interviewees are able to notice similarities between different types of objects and reach a solution. 

Don’t be afraid to highlight unique leadership experiences and projects you were involved in while in college. 

The third round of interviews is all about soft skills and seeing how well you’d work with Expedia Group’s engineering team. This is where you want to highlight your past experiences, no matter if it’s traditional or non-traditional. As a mentor to many interns and young professionals, Daniella has noticed that oftentimes people will omit leadership experience if they think it’s outside of the field. But don’t sell yourself short, confidently share all relevant experience for the role. 

“It’s important to highlight experience even if you don’t think you have it. For example your projects in school – sometimes we think we don’t have certain skills, but we do have them because they’re transferable.”

If you’ve led a team at a part-time retail job, that’s leadership, if you’ve worked on a team to complete a project, speak to how you worked in that dynamic. Utilize every experience you have whether that be in the classroom, at a part-time job, or volunteering.  

There are a few things you should avoid throughout your interviews. 

Daniela says that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions while solving problems. When you need help, ask for it. When you receive feedback, she advises to, “never defend your solutions, you need to initiate a dialogue. You’re being assessed on how you handle feedback.”

As for maintaining professionalism in the virtual interview, Daniela says to turn off your phone, test your WiFi connection, and make sure your audio and camera work at least 10 minutes before the interview. Not only will those tips make you seem professional, but you’ll also feel more comfortable and prepared for the interview. 

If you’re worried you didn’t gain enough internship experience to qualify for the role, here’s something that may just ease your mind that Daniela shared with us. “We don’t expect you to have a lot of experience. You don’t need an internship. I think it’s so much better students are here to learn.” 

BONUS TIP: Before signing off, we asked Daniela what final tips she had for students interested in a technical role at Expedia Group. This is what she had to say. 

“Try to prepare for the soft skills interview, sometimes as an engineer, you overfocus on the technical stuff. It’s good to have a clear idea in your mind of your relevant achievements, your strengths, and what you’ll bring to the team. Own your experiences and your success.”

To learn more about landing a job in Tech, join us for Expedia Group’s virtual event, “Meet Expedia: How to nail the interview & land a job in Tech on April 22nd, 2021 at 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm PT (7:00 pm – 8:00 pm ET).