Cracking the Code: Communication Skills for Your Real-Time Coding Challenge

Previously we took a look at the phone screening and how to stand out during the initial phase of the interview process. As you move forward, be sure to ask the recruiter or hiring manager questions about the structure of the next phase. You may be faced with a real-time coding challenge, white-board challenge, or take-home coding assignment. Perhaps at this round, your interview will be a video call. Knowing the format ahead of time will give you an opportunity to prepare.

During a real-time coding challenge, your technical skills will be put to the test- but don’t make the mistake of forgetting to showcase your soft skills! The interviewer will be observing how you handle situations that replicate the demands of the job. For example, active listening, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and how you manage feedback are additional skills the interviewer will be gauging. Remember, verbal communication is key for demonstrating these skills.

Preparing for the real-time coding challenge with video

  • Test your tech: This may sound like a no-brainer but it is an important step! How strong is your internet connection? Do you have the necessary software installed? Have you charged all of your devices? Are your power cords nearby?  Practice sharing your screen. Close down any apps that are not needed for the interview. Open documents and web apps that you may need to reference (resume, CV, CodePen, GitHub, etc.). Anticipate issues that may occur and have a backup plan.
  • Set the scene: Before your interview, prepare your environment. Use good lighting placed behind your laptop and a little bit overhead for depth. Place your camera close to eye level and look at the camera when speaking. Check your camera angle on the screen, your eyes should be at the 3/4 mark on the screen. Use a plain, non-distracting background. Ideally, set up in a location with doors that can be closed to reduce noise.
  • Double check your details. Locate the meeting link and be sure you can find it easily when the time comes to sign on. Confirm when the interview is scheduled (date and time). For a remote interview it is essential to check the time zone and calculate the difference.  Set a reminder with an alarm at a time.  Give yourself enough time to feel prepared and settled before starting.

Stand out during the real-time coding challenge with video

  • Introduce yourself on the call. Make a point to introduce yourself on the call. Often times the first word is dropped so rather than saying your name first, start by saying “Hello.” If you start with “Hello, Maria here” or “Hello, Amit speaking” then others will be sure to hear your name (and hear how it is pronounced).
  • Brush up on the cultural etiquette. Each country will have its own cultural style of communication. Knowing the general etiquette and cultural expectations of the company with whom you are interviewing will make communication easier. For example, it is common practice in the US to mute yourself if you are not speaking as a courtesy to reduce echo and distractions.
  • Advocate to overcome issues. In the US it is also common to advocate for yourself when needed. If someone’s sound quality is not ideal, let them know. Use a friendly phrase such as: “Would you please repeat that, Amy? The sound wasn’t clear.” or “Marco, the sound cut out and I missed the last question you asked. Would you please repeat it?”
  • Speak to people’s emotions and values. Did you hear any emotion in the interviewer’s comment or question? Be attentive! If you hear a distinct emotion, use this as an opportunity to connect more deeply with the interviewer.
  • Wrapping up the call. Reiterate your interest in the position. Thank the interviewer for his/her time. Confirm what the next steps in the process are. Ask about the interviewer’s timeline for filling the position. Close with a friendly phrase such as “It was great meeting you.” or “I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts next week.”

You spend hours preparing your technical skills for an interview but do you practice HOW you will engage during virtual interviews? Align your technical skills, words, and vocal variety to develop your online presence and ace your interview. Good luck!

One final suggestion: Further your interview skills with a personalized communication coach. Book your free introductory session with Upward Communication today!