Mastering the Coding Bootcamp Interview

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You’ve done it. After weeks of careful research and planning you’ve finally completed your application to a coding bootcamp and taken the next step on your journey to a career in tech. But as you finally build up the courage to hit submit, you can’t help but think: “what’s next?”

While the application is an important part of gaining admission into a coding bootcamp, it is just one step in a larger process that allows tech training companies like Grand Circus to get to know you as a person, a professional and a student. With the application complete, it’s time for you to start thinking about thinking about the next important step: the interview.

While they may seem intimidating to some, interviews can actually be rewarding and insightful experiences, especially when done right. Think about it, you’re getting the chance to talk about your strengths, your skills, your experience and everything else that makes you great!

However, nailing a coding bootcamp interview is like learning to play the piano or developing a great jump shot in basketball: it takes practice. Luckily, we know a thing or two about what makes a successful (and unsuccessful) bootcamp interview. Here are some of our top do’s and don’ts.

Tips to Have Successful Pre-Bootcamp Interview


Put Manners First

First impressions are everything, especially in an interview. When you walk into the room, be sure to smile, give a firm handshake and make eye contact with your interviewer(s). While these might seem basic, the fundamentals can really set the tone for the rest of day.

Clarify Your Goals

While applications are great at collecting your information and getting to know your dedicated to a career in tech, the app doesn’t tell the full story of who you are or how you’ll do in a bootcamp. That’s why it is incredibly important to paint a fuller picture of your experience, goals, and motivations for enrolling in a coding bootcamp. How have your past work or life experiences impacted your decision? What kinds of skills are you hoping to develop? What career path do you envision taking after graduation? All of these are great questions to consider when constructing a personal narrative and describing why YOU would be a great fit for a coding bootcamp.

Look, Learn and Listen

Even though you are the one being interviewed, it is equally important to listen to the folks on the other side of the table. Make sure to really focus on the questions they ask and take in any additional information that might be shared. Sure, interviews can be a high-pressure situation and it’s easy to only focus on your carefully crafted responses, but don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Think of it as a two-way conversation.

Come Prepared, Leave Informed

Speaking of conversations, your interviewer isn’t the only one who is allowed to ask questions. Make sure you come prepared with a few of your own in order to learn more about the bootcamp and what the experience will be like. But not all questions are alike. Avoid logistical or generic questions like “Do students get free coffee?” in favor for informative ones like “what kind of companies do graduates usually apply to?”

Be conscious of what it might feel like if you get accepted into a bootcamp. Consider what types of questions might arise then, and proactively ask them during the pre-bootcamp interview. It might also be helpful to review your program’s curriculum and gain a sense of what you’ll be learning and then use the interview to help fill in any remaining questions you may have. Getting answers here can really help provide a fuller picture of what life as a bootcamp student will be like while also demonstrating your interest in the program.


Over Exaggerate Your Skills or Qualifications

Over exaggerating your qualifications is not a good idea in any kind of interview, especially one for a coding bootcamp. Every student enters their bootcamp at a different level of coding experience and that is perfectly fine. No matter if you’ve been coding for years and are looking to pick up a new language or  are just starting out, make sure your skills are accurately reflected in you application.

If, for whatever reason, you aren’t quite technically ready for a coding bootcamp –– we can help you get there. We’ve created an entire path for individuals starting with zero coding experience; it helps you get comfortable with our classroom setting while learning the technical skills necessary to succeed in a bootcamp. [Bonus Read: Step by Step: Becoming a Coding Bootcamp Student]

Make a Short Story Long

We all have a friend that likes to ramble. You know, the one that always finds a way to turn a simple “how was your weekend?” into a long-winded and overly detailed epic that could rival Moby Dick. No matter what random stories an interview question might inspire you to share, make sure to keep your responses concise, honest and focused on the task at hand. There is a time and a place for stories about your dog learning a new trick. Your coding bootcamp interview is not it.  

Get Too Casual

The tech industry is well known for its casual and sometimes laidback nature, but this certainly does not apply to bootcamp interviews. Sure, you don’t have to come dressed in a tuxedo, but you should come ready to be the most professional and prepared version of yourself.

Rely on Excuses

No one likes excuses. They’re an easy way to explain why something didn’t go our way or blame other people. More importantly, they’re something you should always try to avoid during an interview. As a bootcamp student, you’ll be put in plenty of challenging learning situations where excuses are not going to help you achieve your goals. That’s why it is important to show your resilience and responsibility through your responses by taking ownership of your successes and possible shortcomings.

And there you have it! As you continue on with your coding bootcamp application process, we hope these tips help prepare you for the all-important interview. Best of all, much of this advice can be applied to any interview situation!