7 The interview: What to expect and how to handle it


This chapter covers

  • What interviewers are looking for
  • Common types of interview questions
  • Proper etiquette when communicating with a company

If you stop to consider the process of an interview, you might realize just how tricky it is: somehow, you need to show total strangers that you’d be good in a role you know about only from a few paragraphs in a job posting. In the interview, you may be asked technical questions at all levels about different technologies—some of which you may not have used before. Further, during the interview you’ll need to learn enough about the company to be able to decide whether you’d want to work there. You have to do all of these things in only a few hours, all while acting professional and proper. It’s enough to give you some serious anxiety sweats.

The good news is that with the right preparation and mindset, data science interviews can be taken from panic-attack-inducing to manageable, tolerable, and maybe even an enjoyable experience.

In this chapter, we walk you through what interviewers are looking for and how to adjust your thinking to align with their needs. We discuss technical and nontechnical questions, as well as a data science case study. Finally, we go through how to behave and what questions you should be asking interviewers. With this information, you should be well prepared for what lies ahead.

7.1. What do companies want?

7.1.1. The interview process

7.2. Step 1: The initial phone screen interview

7.3. Step 2: The on-site interview

7.3.1. The technical interview

7.3.2. The behavioral interview

7.4. Step 3: The case study

7.5. Step 4: The final interview

7.6. The offer

7.7. Interview with Ryan Williams, senior decision scientist at Starbucks

What are the things you need to do to knock an interview out of the park?

How do you handle the times where you don’t know the answer?

What should you do if you get a negative response to your answer?

What has running interviews taught you about being an interviewee?