7 Tips to Nail Your Pre-Bootcamp InterviewBy: Stuart Danker, NEXT Academy
So you've finally singled out your favorite coding bootcamp and you're ready to enroll. All those hours spent scouring the web for bootcamp reviews, the most convenient locations, and the most suitable curriculums have led to the registration form in front of you. You've set aside 3 months for the course, and you've saved up for tuition fees. In your excitement, you totally overlooked the fact that you have to pass a pre-bootcamp interview before you're allowed to enroll. Now you're sweating bullets as you try to prepare.
Fret not! We're here to help you know what to expect, and how you can increase your chances of passing non-technical interviews.
Do note that each bootcamp has its own interviewing standards, and since NEXT Academy caters to total beginners, our interviews tend to be less technical in nature. What this means is you can use our guide as a base for any pre-bootcamp interview you might come across. Here are the insider do's and don'ts, straight from our interviewers themselves.
Flaunt your motivation
If your end goal involves 'maybe building an app', or if you decided to get into coding because 'you already spend so much time on your computer anyway', then a coding bootcamp might not be for you. To really thrive, you'll have to be fully committed to your cause. So be clear about your desired outcomes, and share those goals with us.
Talk about the past
While we don't need you to be technically savvy off the bat (it's our job to get you there), sharing any previous efforts to learn to code will work greatly in your favor. It shows us that you're interested and proactive enough to facilitate your own learning, and that's a pretty big thumbs-up in our books. It doesn't even matter if all you did was write a "Hello World" script. Tell us about it.
Contrary to popular belief, the world of coding doesn't consist of lone wolves and awkward geeks. A lot of coding involves teamwork and communication, which is why we love articulate candidates. Verbalize your thought process. Tell us how you break big problems into manageable chunks. Ask us more questions. Just because it's an interview doesn't mean it has to be a one-way conversation.
Coding bootcamps are not a get-rich-quick scheme. Like any other craft, there's a lot of work involved in becoming a decent coder. It's one thing to be curious about your prospects; it's a whole other thing to expect employers lining up at your door just because you've paid for a bootcamp. So definitely don't ask for guarantees if the only effort you're willing to put in is paying the fees.
Brush things off
We like getting to know you better, and that involves asking a variety of questions. When we pose long questions, take your time and really work things out. We're not necessarily looking for the right answers; we just want to know how you think. Tell us what led to your conclusions. That means no skipping points and no brushing things off after a couple of passes.
Give bad vibes
We're not gonna lie. bootcamps are a slog, and the amount of information we've crammed into 10 weeks can be overwhelming, especially to someone with a non-technical background. Frustrations can mount when you're constantly pushed to your mental limits. This is why we tend to fill our classes with optimistic people. So if you show our interviewers that you're prone to punching your monitor when you can't figure out a bug, they might think twice about approving your application.
Miss your interview
You'd think we wouldn't have to list this because, in a course where you shouldn't even miss a day of class, it would only make sense not to forget your entrance interview. Yet, there have been numerous applicants who've left our interviewers hanging without even a word of courtesy. We do try to give our candidates the benefit of the doubt, but not showing up definitely affect the interviewers' impressions of the absentees.
That's about it! While non-technical interviews can be less daunting than their technical counterparts, it's still very possible to fail. We know because we've failed quite a high number of applicants. As long as you're genuinely interested in learning to code, it will show in your interview. And that goes a long way in passing the first step of your coding journey.
Want to learn more about NEXT Academy? Check out their courses and read what alumni have to say on SwitchUp.