Preparing for a data science interview? What to know before you go

According to the LinkedIn 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report, data scientist positions grew 6.5 times in the last five years. So, aspiring candidates with proper training will have multiple vacancies to choose from when seeking out a data science position.

All that stands in your way is the interview. Yes, interviews are extremely nerve-wracking, but more so in the case of data scientist positions as only research and preparation will help you ace the big day.

But in data science, being an application-based discipline, the expectations vary considerably from one industry to another. Thankfully, the following practices can help you overcome this hurdle:

Take advantage of online resources

You will find plenty of readily available resources online to help prepare for your interview. Be sure to go through them and hone your skill set. From practice questions to work out, there is a treasure trove of information out there — all for you to leverage.

If necessary, take part in mock interviews to get a better idea on how to answer the interview questions.

It might even help you determine the best way to pause while coming up with an answer. The trick is to sound confident even when faced with technical answers. You might even rehearse scenarios with other data scientists online for better preparation.

Stay alert on current data science trends

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Companies will always choose people who express enthusiasm about furthering their careers in the field of data science.

So, it is worth your while to study up on the latest industry trends and showcase your knowledge during the interview. Not only will it make for a killer first impression, but it will also decrease the possibility of becoming flustered by an unknown concept or term.

Be self-confident

More often than not, your own brain attempts to sabotage your interview. If you allow yourself to travel too far inside your headspace, you’ll start second-guessing everything. Plus, your brain will likely trick you into believing that other candidates are smarter than you. Or, you’ll focus unnecessarily over minor details.

The smart thing to do is to ignore the voices in your head — they will not help you or tell you the truth. So push them into the background and proceed with the business of your interview.

Get some idea about what to expect

Normally, data science interviews consist of one to three screening conversations followed by all-day onsite. Because of this, you might have to speak to several individuals before heading into the office. And, if this is your first time attending an all-day onsite, prepare yourself mentally for numerous questions regarding your technical talents as well as your capacity to interact with others.

Learn to break down data science topics

Your interviewers might be qualified data scientists themselves, but they will still expect you to discuss your work in the simplest terms.

Based on this aspect, you need to practice explaining related terms and other statistical jargon to a wide audience, from designers to engineers to business operators. Dumb-down the convoluted concepts into plain English and make sure your ideas are easily understandable by your peers.

Know how to whiteboard

While it is not a staple in every interview, sometimes you might be asked to write in front of other people or discuss your ideas out loud. Practicing such things beforehand will make sure you are not caught unaware.

Exhibit your willingness to learn

There is an ongoing debate among data science employers, some of whom think that the solution to finding standout staff lies in building talent, while others hold the opinion that buying talent is the best option.

The truth is, while the former enables employees to incubate and nurture talent as per the company needs, buying talent offers the incentive of hiring people with specialized skills.

Therefore, being a motivated data science professional candidate, you need to display the skills you have already acquired and developed. But at the same time, you must be willing to learn in the course of your new job and embrace adaptation.

Always pay attention to your body language

data science interview

While focusing on a technical dilemma, many individuals forget about verbal cues and body language. However, with regular practice, you can avoid this issue and emphasize any mannerisms that work in your favor.

For example, avoid folding your arms while listening to your interviewer speak or speaking when you do not know something. These actions have a negative impact on the interviewers and may impede your chances of finding success in the data science interview.

Consider your approach to other data products

While preparing for the data science interview, think about how you would develop features for a different product. These questions are not only common, but they allow you to think quickly on your feet when something similar is asked by an interviewer.

Assess cultural fit

data products

A lot of firms stress the importance of cultural fit while evaluating possible hires. With this concept in mind, you should consider if you’d be the right fit for a company and why. This also benefits you as you don’t have to accept a job with an organization you will not enjoy working for. Ask about how your employer’s culture meshes with your own.

For example, if you want to work for a company with a thriving technical culture, question whether the team contributes to open sources projects or if they do hackathons.

Always showcase your versatility

Data scientists must be well-versed in algorithms, mathematics, engineering, communication, management, and design. Sure, they don’t have to be a specialist in every aspect, but some knowledge is appreciated by future employers. If you’re capable of bridging multiple facets of a multiple, the potential employer will realize your value as a skilled data scientist.

Communicate your excitement

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If you’re not enthused about a particular data science role now, chances are you’ll be less impressed as you continue to work there. So, you must be enthusiastic about the organization and the given role at the time of the interview.

Improve your knowledge about the tech stack of the company, along with their vision and product portfolio. Also, find out which elements excite you the most and convey the same to your interviewers.

The world will not slow down for you

Successfully getting through a data science interview is no small feat. It takes a lot of hard work, research, and dedication. Above all, you need to keep an open mind and ask yourself why you want this job in the first place. Only then will you attain a position that makes the best use of your talents.

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