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Competency Based Interviews - STAR

Android Interview questions and Single product companies

 

Tech Talent are working with some of the best single product apps companies in Europe and have great experience of helping mobile apps developers prepare for interviews.  We have, with the help of our clients, complied a list of questions that will help you prepare for your interview.

Most Android Developer interviews are split between Android specific and Java questions.

Here are some examples. We can't predict what you might be asked at interview but this gives you a good starting point to help you get ready for your interview.

General Questions

  • Agile SCRUM and how it works
  • TDD and how it works
  • Continuous integration, the servers used for this and how it affects the development cycle

Android questions:

  • What are the key parts of Android SDK and the basic parts of any Android app?
  • What's the purposes of each part?
  • What does each method in an Android Activity lifecycle do and when does it call? 
  • What's the difference between this and Service Lifecycle 
  • How are fragments used and why?
  • Methods of multithreading including. AsyncTasks. Handlers. Loopers.
  • What are Static Fields and how are they used?
  • Why might you run AsyncTasks?
  • How would you change the orientation of the screen and what challenges might this incur?
  • What are the types of memory leaks?
  • How might you Instantiate and use Content provider.
  • How might you start services and what are the purposes of each type of service.
  • What problems can be encountered in service binding?
  • What are onMeasure, onLayout, onDraw and how might they be used.
  • What is JobScheduler and how does it work?
  • What is the purpose of .equals and why might it need to be overridden?
  • How does synchronised block work?
  • How do you use content providers, and when is this created?

Java questions:

  • What is the 'Object' class in Java?
  • What are methods are in this class?
  • What is the purpose of each method?
  • How does HashMap insert the element? What is the sequence of it and how did it use the hashcode?
  • Can we put an element with 'null' key into it and how might it work?
  • How does synchronised blocks work in case of static and non-static methods and what Lock is used. 
    What is the purpose of Volatile variable and how does it work?

It's vital to be well prepared for an interview and although when it comes to technical questions or coding tests you may be an expert there are other aspects to interviews which will make or break your chances of a job offer.


HR or Non-Technical interviews are often mistakenly overlooked as unimportant or easy but there is far more behind an informal chat during an interview than you might imagine. Many of our clients actively use STAR techniqueeither obviously or covertly to ascertain your communication, man management and consultancy skills.

If you are looking for any job where you want your technical views and opinions to be taken on board by your employer or client, you need to understand STAR. This is particularly important for Senior Developers or Managers where you may be asked to communicate technical concepts to non-technical people. As a senior person you will undoubtedly come into contact with juniors, non-technical team members and perhaps even clients. Many companies use non-technical interviews to test communication skills, some actively use STAR and those who don't will respond positively if you do.

What is STAR?
STAR is a methodology used to explain your experience by answering questions with real life examples in the following order. This is also referred to as competency based questioning.

Situation
Task
Action
Result

This method shows the employer what you know about a subject and demonstrates your ability to communicate this to others. You may get asked a very obvious STAR questions such as: "Can you give me an example of how you have used Apple's Human Interface Guidelines in your app?"


Alternatively you may be asked something less specific which is trickier to handle. For example "What do you know about UI?"

With STAR the answer would always be laid out in a similar way regardless of the question style. Here is how.

Situation - Explain how you know about a subject by recounting a specific situation.

Task - Explain what you were required to do and why. This may have been driven by an employer, client or due to your own decision making process. It's important you explain this.

Action - Explain what you did. Don't talk about "we" or "our" . You are being interviewed so talk about your own contribution to the Task.

Result - tell the interviewer what the end result of your work was. Perhaps you produced and app which closely modelled itself on Apples Human Interface guidelines. Maybe your clients' active user numbers increased due to implementing these concepts. Or perhaps you made a mistake and learned from that process.


It doesn't always matter if the Result was good or bad. What matters is that you can explain what you did, why you did it and what you learned from it. If the Result to your STAR was negative remember to explain what you would do next time to amend it.


By the time you have told this logical and informative story your interviewer should clearly understand what you did and why even if they are not a developer. If you achieve this your interviewer will have the information they need to progress your application to the next stage and you will show that you are a good communicator.


Preparing your STARs

Preparing your STAR examples takes a little time. Read the job spec to your chosen role and write down a STAR example for each line in the job spec . If you don't have a job spec use a similar spec or advert. Then mentally rehearse each STAR by remembering the detail of the Situation, Task, Action & Result.


You are unlikely to have a different STAR for each item. You may only need 2-3 STARs but you should be able to tailor each example to demonstrate how it relates to the job spec.


If you don't have any experience of one item then look it up so that you can demonstrate what you do know about the subject. For example, if you had never looked at the Human Interface Guidelines before today you might say, "Although I did not have the opportunity to affect the use of Apples Human Interface Guidelines in my last job I have researched the subject and I understand that they have three key principals; Deference, Clarity and Depth. Here is an example of how I would implement these concepts if I were to amend an existing app..."


Using STAR technique will make a great impression but here are a few things to avoid:

  • Don't talk for too long. Make sure your examples are short and to the point. 2-3 minutes on each is more than enough. If the interviewer wants more detail they will ask.
  • Don't patronise your interviewer. Even a non-technical person will understand key words and concepts from the jobs spec. It's likely they regularly interview developers and work alongside developers.
  • Don't get frustrated if your interviewer doesn't understand the example you gave. It's your responsibility to make things clear just as it would be if you were mentoring a junior or briefing a client.
  • Don't be dishonest. If you haven't done something don't say that you have. Instead create a theoretical STAR and make it clear that this is how you would approach a situation if given the opportunity.
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