How to survive a data science interview

How to survive a data science interview
  • July 8, 2024

You always have to prepare for a data science interview. This entails focusing on your soft skills and your technical skills, making both of these aspects of yourself shine! In this blog, I explain what I mean by this and end with some useful tips. 

In terms of your soft skills, how should you prepare yourself for a data science interview?

When considering your soft skills think about how you come across. When preparing for a data science interview, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Are you communicating clearly? 
  • Can you communicate a complex idea (like defining a problem)? 
  • How do you speak to the people in the interview? 
  • Will the people who are interviewing you feel like you are a candidate that they can introduce to a client? 
  • Are you able to see the bigger picture and communicate it? 

All of these questions are important to consider when presenting yourself as a holistic employee in an interview. They are no less important than your technical skillset. 

In terms of your technical skills, how should you prepare yourself for a data science interview?

Avoid only focusing on using buzzwords. Showcase your deeper understanding of the field. When asked a technical question in a data science interview here are some tactics you could use: 

  • Answer the questions as in-depth as possible. 
  • Don’t only give a quick overview of the field or problem. 
  • Relate your answer to your real-life experience. 
  • When they ask you about a solution you’ve worked on, speak on the specifics. For example, explain how you’ve implemented such a solution in the past, what you needed to keep in mind, how you tweaked the deployment of the solutions, etc. 

Use these tactics to make the conversation flow. It will show that you know more than what one could learn by simply turning to Google. 

How do you prepare for technical assignments? 

Data science interviews will often have a technical component or an assignment. Sometimes you might even have to program in front of the interviewers. To prepare for this: 

  • Read some online resources on the topic. 
  • Look at some examples of technical assignments that are used for interviews.
  • Practice some of the exercises. 

This will ensure that you are less nervous because you are well-prepared for the technical assignment and you know what to expect. 

Tips for when you need to do a data science assignment as part of an interview

If you are required to complete a data science assignment as part of your interview, and it is not a take-home assignment, here are some tips and tricks that might make things easier for you: 

  • Ask which coding languages you may use and complete the assignment in one you are comfortable with. 
  • Ask whether you are allowed to complete the assignment on your own laptop. You might be more comfortable with your own set-up. 
  • Ask whether you are allowed to use an editor like Visual Studio Code vs only allowed to use the coding platform that the test is set up on. 

Remember, you can always ask questions that enable you to set up your environment in such a way that it minimises your stress. Just ask permission before assuming that you are, for example, allowed to use your own laptop. 

Conclusion

Interviews can be very nerve-wracking and with data science interviews it is not only how you present yourself, but also how you do in the technical assignment that is important. You want to come across as a holistic candidate, one that your possible new employer will be comfortable joining their team and presenting to clients. The technical assessment can be just as tricky, but luckily there are ways to prepare and if you follow the tips for setting up your environment when you complete the assignment, you are sure to have a more comfortable interview experience. 

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