Little things that matter in a software engineering interview

Being likable

  • Try to be yourself, don’t fake an id to go to an interview. People can tell.
  • Try to calm your nerves. If you‘re uncomfortable the interviewer will get uncomfortable and that will cost you points.
  • Be curious about the problems, about the interviewer’s role, about the company, about something. Lack of curiosity reads as fixed mindset.
  • Try to be confident during the interview. If you’re not it will signal that you think you’re above your league.
  • Be open to criticism and don’t be afraid of talking about past mistakes. Becoming defensive is a red flag and claiming you never made mistakes is just plain silly.
  • Don’t be a jerk.

Code cleanliness

  • Indent your code. This is like brushing your teeth, no excuses.
  • Name your variables for readability. They’ll be reading, make it pleasant.
  • Remove the trash. Those 3 lines from your first attempt that you’re not using anymore are hurting their eyes.
  • Simplify your code and make it more elegant. Do you really need this if or can you do without it?

Listening skills

  • Pay attention to what they’re saying. It is important.
  • Ask for clarification if you didn’t understand it. It’s 10x better than assuming something wrong and start doing it.
  • Try to change course accordingly so you can show them what they want to see.

Asking questions back

  • Ask at least one relevant question to each interviewer.
  • Bonus points if you ask questions the interviewer is in great position to answer, like her personal experience at the company.
  • Don’t ask questions that you don’t care about the answer, people can tell and it’ll just be read as you’re faking interest.



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Gui Carvalho

Gui Carvalho


Startup guy, engineer, product thinker. Currently living in Florida.