Your Go-To Guide for On-Site Interviews

An on-site interview is typically one of the final steps in the hiring process. It often involves meeting with multiple team members or participating in technical exercises. Here is a guide to help you prepare for an on-site interview.

1. Understand the Format of the On-Site Interview

It is important to speak to your account executive about the format of the on-site interview and ask any questions that you may have. This includes how many interview rounds you may take part in, the types of interviews that will be conducted (technical, behavioral, panel, one-on-one, etc.), and any practical exercises or tests that may be administered while you are on-site.

Table of Contents

Understand the Format of the On-Site Interview

Research/Review the Company and Job Information

Technical Preparation

Behavioral Preparation

Practice Interviews

Resume/Portfolio Review

Questions for the Interviewers

Dress Code

Travel Arrangements

What to Bring

Stay Positive and Confident

Thank-You Notes

2. Research/Review the Company and Job Information

When you are invited to go for an on-site interview, it is a good idea to refresh your knowledge about the company, its mission, and recent developments. Being able to fully understand the company's values and culture can you help prepare answers on how you may be a good culture fit while allowing the interviewers to see how your work style will with their organization. Additionally, do not be afraid to revist the job description and requirements so you can prepare yourself for any questions they may ask and what your capabilities are when it comes to what the job entails. Be prepared to draw some parallels between your experience and the job requirements. Have some examples of when you used X technology or when you performed a specific duty.

prepare for on-site interview questions

3. Technical Preparation

In most cases, an on-site interview may require a technical portion that will involve hypotheitcal situations to test your skills and see how you will perform given certain situaton. As part of your technical interview preparation, brush up on some IT skills or technologies within the IT job market. It would be a good use of your time to review the skills that are relevant to the position and you are familiar with. The more information you can give on the knowledge you have on the tools a company may require you to use will only help you stand out amongst the other candidates. This may include reviewing key algorithms, data structures, and problem-solving techniques. 

4. Behavioral Preparation

In general, it is good practice to be able to answer common IT specialist interview questions using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Some common behavior questions you might be asked during your on-site interview may include: "Could you tell me about a complex problem you solved at work" or "What was your approach to finding a solution?"

Be prepared to discuss your past experiences and biggest career accomplishments, as well as situations that you felt challenged or faced adversity and how you dealt with those issues. These questions can shed a little more light into your work style and personality, which ultimatley leads into how you may fit in with the company's culture.

5. Practice Interviews

One way to become a little more comfortable with what you may say and act during an on-site interview, is to conduct a mock version of one with with a friend or mentor. This will allow you to practice answering questions and receive feedback on your responses. The person helping you to conduct a mock interview should be someone who is also knowledgable about the industry. This person should be able to either tell you if you should elaborate more in one aspect, or change a response to something more condusive to what the interviewer may be looking for given your experiences. There are plenty of common interview questions that you can use as practice. During your mock interview, remember to speak clearly and concisely, and be mindful of your talking speed  (especially if you’ve been known to be a fast talker), just as you would during the on-site interview. Utilize this time to hone in what you weak spots are so you can nail the actual version.

6. Resume/Portfolio Review

Bring your resume to an on-site interview

It is always a good idea to spend some time reviewing your resume with your current and previous roles and experience pror to an on-site interview.  Anything listed on your resume is fair game for an interviewer to ask about, so make sure you can speak to everything you have listed. Additionally, not knowing what is on your resume or part of your portfolio may make the interviewer question your legitamacy, and the last thing you would want to be labeled as is a fake candidate. Be ready to discuss your role and contributions in detail while highlighting your achievements and experiences.

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7. Questions for the Interviewers

A general rule for all interviews is to try to come up with at least three (3) thoughtful questions prepared to ask each interviewer. Some appropriate question topics would be about the team, company culture, and specific projects. These topics help to show that you truly have an interest in not only the position but also in working for the company in general. DO NOT preemptively ask questions related to compensation or benefits unless specifically asked by the interviewer.

8. Dress Code

Prior to your on-site interview, ask your recruiter what the company’s specific dress code is like. It is always best to be slightly overdressed than underdressed for an interview. First impressions are everything!

Dress professionally and in accordance with the company's dress code. Make sure that your appearance is neat and tidy and remember to pay attention to your grooming, including making sure your hair, nails, facial hair, etc. are presentable to enhance your personal presentation. 

Appearance matters for on-site interviews

9. Travel Arrangements

If the on-site interview involves travel, plan your itinerary in advance. Assume that there will be some sort of delay. Leave early to ensure you are on time even if there is a delay.

Look up the route during the time you are scheduled to commute – Google Maps has an excellent feature that tells you what time to leave if you need to arrive at a particular date and time. Even then, add some extra time to account for possible delays prior. It may be a good idea to take a test trip over to the office to ensure you know where to go and have a better sense of travel time.

Arrive 15 minutes early to secure a parking spot and find the office.  The interviewers will take note if you walk into the office 5-10 minutes early.

10. What to Bring

Come prepared for your on-site interview and be sure to print out several physical copies of your resume, portfolio, and any other relevant certifications ahead of time. Be prepared to showcase your work during discussions when appropriate.

Bring a notebook and a pen so you are ready and equipped to take notes. Showing up empty-handed might make it look like you are unprepared.

Always make sure your phone is placed in your pocket or pocketbook and is turned off or silenced. Nothing is more distracting to you or your interviewer than hearing your phone ring, chime, or buzz during the interview.

11. Stay Positive and Confident

Positive on-site interview

While you may be nervous, pay attention to your posture and body language. Maintain eye contact, sit up straight, and engage actively in conversations. Maintain a positive attitude throughout the interview, even if it might not be going as expected. Project confidence in your abilities and experiences. Remember that expressing enthusiasm and interest goes a long way!

12. Thank-You Notes

If you are working with a recruiter ask them whether a thank you note would be appropriate. If it is, send the thank you note to your recruiter to proofread and have them send it on your behalf given the interview was scheduled by them.

Thank you notes are meant to be brief and to the point. Be sure to:

  • Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration.
  • Reiterate your interest.
  • Recap your qualifications for the role and mention any interview highlights.

Remember that on-site interviews are not only about assessing your technical skills, but are also about evaluating your interpersonal skills and how well you will fit in with a company' culture. Always remember to be yourself, approach each interaction with professionalism, and showcase your strengths and enthusiasm for the role.

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