Preparing for a Non-Technical Interview: my Booking.com + iamtheCODE Experience

I recently had a non-technical interview with Booking.com and iamtheCODE. It was an interesting experience.

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

The day before the interview, I was super excited. I had qualified for the interview after winning a hackathon organized by both companies, and winning felt great. The companies had told us (each hackathon winner) the interview was to be a simple background-check, they wanted to get to know us as individuals; no big deal.

We gat this.

I was still high on winning and had absolutely no plan for the interview, when I called my good friend Ọlájídé Oyè to inform him of the good news. He congratulated me, and suggested I prepare for the interview.

Ọlájídé Oyè ( being the lead Front-End Engineer at a software company ) knew there were some general questions interviewers asked and it was best I have well thought out answers. He tutored me on how to prepare and this ended up being invaluable.

The actual interview questions were exactly what I expected and being prepared helped a lot. Although, the interview didn’t go according to plan.

Hint: I cried during the interview, this wasn’t part of the plan and it was embarrassing.

Teary eyed me after the interview :(

What follows are some of the questions you’ll most likely be asked at a non-technical interview, suggestions on how you should approach them and my personal answers to the questions for Booking.com

Likely Questions and Approach

  • Tell me about yourself?
    This is the most common question for non-techincal interviews. The interviewer is trying to get to know you as a person. Your answer needs to be brief, concise and showcase your strengths. This is a general theme to an interview; emphasize your strengths. For instance, you can say: “you are hardworking” and summarize an example of when you were hardworking.
  • What is the most exciting project you have worked on?
    This is a great opportunity to emphasize your strengths. Tell a short story of a project where you learned a lot, talk about your challenges and how you overcame them.
  • Why do you want to work for us?
    Showcase your passion here. Go online and read up on the values of the company, their culture, what problems they are trying to solve. You need to align your values and strengths with that of the company. A good example would be a company like Facebook who cares about “Connecting the world” and has a hacker-like culture, you should highlight those values and give scenarios where you connected people while hacking stuff together. Don’t forget to be brief.
  • Do you have any questions for us?
    You should take this opportunity to find out if the company is the right fit for you. Specific questions you have about the company; things you are confused about and want to clarify. There’s a great article that helps you think in the right direction:

My Experience with Booking.com + iamtheCODE

Here are my prepared answers to the questions above for the Booking.com + iamtheCODE interview:

  • Tell me about yourself?
    My name is Bolu, I build full stack applications and write about my experiences.
    I am tenacious, a good example of that was the hackathon (remember I just won a hackathon they organized), where I worked hard with the team to get results. I like getting things done.
    I am open, I write about my experiences on Medium, the process of growing as a developer, lessons learned, mistakes made. This helps me reflect and hopefully inspires people.
  • What is the most exciting project you have worked on?
    I led a team of 4 front-end developers including myself to build a full stack application.
    The challenge: learn the back-end, collaborate remotely and build the app. It was a difficult experience, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was confused many times. We googled a lot, got advice from senior developers and pulled through. In retrospect, it was a fantastic experience. It symbolized growth for me.
  • Why do you want to work for us?
    I connect strongly with your company’s values of Craftmanship, Communication and Commercial-awareness (Booking.com’s core employee values). My experience starting businesses combined with my coding and writing skills makes me a good fit for your company (ask if you can share a short story of an experience expanding on your statement…).
    Your company’s diversity, which promises an environment where I will be accepted, respected and valued is also attractive (Booking.com has employees from 142+ nationalities).
Me hustling a picture with Clive. He works for Booking.com
  • Do you have any questions for us?
    1. How is life in Amsterdam? What is the biggest pro and biggest con? Getting hired as a software developer at Booking.com requires you to relocate to Amsterdam. I wanted to know if I’d be happy with life there.
    2. How does your company help me grow as a junior developer? My growth as a programmer is very important to me. I was curious about opportunities the company offered for my personal career growth, for instance mentorship.

I need to emphasize that an interview never goes exactly as planned. Most times, the interviewer picks on something you said and digs deeper to find out more information about you. Be honest and authentic. In my case, when I talked about how hard it was growing as a developer, the interviewer asked me to describe my struggles (this was where my unplanned tears arrived).

Be prepared. Practice and get feedback from a friend about your prepared answers before the interview. Preparation and practice boosts your confidence which goes a long way during the interview … less erms and huh?
Be prepared…

I wish you all the best in your interviews, and I hope you get your dream job.

Ọlájídé Oyè is a great guy, full credit to him for this article. I appreciate you bruv.