Interview tips for Embedded Software Engineers

The Embedded Software Engineering role will change in the not so distant future, demanding a different skill set from what had been previously required. But why the change? The new generation of Embedded Software Engineers will have the same knowledge of their predecessors, but will also need to demonstrate soft skills and cultural fit.  

So the interview stage is getting harder as time goes on but the demand for Embedded software engineers continues to increase. For this we can thank the rapid rate in which technology and in particular, the IoT, is developing.

So whether it’s your soft skills, technical skills or you just want to know what to expect, we’ve broken down each stage of the interview for Embedded Software Engineers:  

Telephone screening

Nailing telephone interviews is critical to getting through to the all important face-to-face interview. So what are companies really looking for at this stage?

Technical ability – first thing first, you have to demonstrate you have the technical experience to do the job. Highlight within the advert or job spec the most important technical skills or experience required. To prepare, craft your answers specifically around those areas.  Instead of listing off your technical ability, give examples of projects where you used that area of skill and the outcome of the project, highlighting what you learned and why these skills will benefit the company you are interviewing with. 

Interest – There is nothing worse than interviewing someone who clearly knows nothing about the company or role, it shows a clear lack of interest and enthusiasm. Do not be that person. Research the company (look at press articles, review sites, their website, careers page) and understand the job spec. Enter the telephone interview with pre prepared questions on the company’s future, the culture, learning & development opportunities, specific product or services or the specifics or the role; it will show you’ve done your research and clearly demonstrate your interest level. 

Communication –  All of the above might be futile if your communication skills let you down. Planning is key, if you already know the key information you want to share with your potential employer and the questions you want answers to, making those points will be so much easier. If you’re worried about communication letting you down, practice with your recruiter, they are after all there to help you.

Face – face interview 

If by nailing the telephone interview you’re invited to a face- face interview – this is your time to shine!  But to do that, you really need to think about what a company wants to see in a potential Embedded Software Engineer.

What do they want to see? 

Yes technical skills are always going to be critical, but employers are now also looking for soft skills to ensure embedded software engineers are working effectively within the team and across multiple departments and stakeholders.

Soft skills: When 900 executives were asked if soft skills are key for candidates looking to land a job in tech, 92% said they are. But which ones matter the most? Top soft skills include:

  • Client handling 
  • Market research 
  • Proposal estimation / submission
  • Risk analysis
  • Technical support
  • Interpersonal communication 
  • Requirement gathering and analysis

Technical skills: 

  • Designing & optimisation of firmware / software architecture for different embedded products 
  • Developing graphics / gesture library 
  • Linux startup sequencing  
  • Algorithm development
  • OS less Firmware Applications Development 

See the full list here: GitHub

Communication & Interpersonal skills 

Rarely thought about but in reality, every day business life would be extremely difficult without them. We all assume that interpersonal skills come naturally to us, but think, have you got the self-confidence to approach various situations, dealing with them both positively and effectively? Being mindful of these skills will give you that much needed edge. According to Indeed, these are the most important skills in relation to communication and interpersonal skills: 

  • Self-confidence 
  • Relationship management 
  • Receptiveness to feedback 
  • Body language 
  • Listening 
  • Collaboration 
  • Showing appreciation 
  • Positive attitude 

Team work 

Choose 2-3 examples of previous projects, making sure you can explain the overall experience, touching on the STAR framework but focus on your specific contributions rather than the overall team. This means that the interviewer will grasp an understanding of how you specifically contribute to team working. 

Relevant experience and projects 

Be prepared to give examples of projects that went well and ones not so well. It’s all about what you learned, how you adapted and the end outcome. Think about:  

Successful projects: 

  • Why were they successful, what went well? Refer back to STAR framework, what was the SITUATION? What was the TASK you were working towards? What ACTIONS did you take, specifically your contribution to the task. What RESULT did you have, what did you learn, what was accomplished? 

Challenging projects:

  • Why was the project particularly challenging, what were the blocks you came across during the project? How did you overcome the issues and what was the end result? Always highlight what you learned, and what you would do differently to overcome or prevent this from happening again?  

Ambition and desire for personal growth

A tricky balance, you need to show you have ambitions for professional development, but lay it on too thick and your interviewer might think your not interested in the role in question, merely looking to move ahead to the next role as soon as you start.

How to overcome this:

  1. Highlight areas for your development within the role in question – explain how this role will help you enhance existing or potentially new soft or technical skills. Show that there is room for you to grow within the role. 
  2. Talk about how you would like to see your career progressing in the medium to long term future. Perhaps discuss specific areas of technology you’d like to be involved in, or product you’d want to work on, or a talk about an example of a career progression route of a peer that you would like to emulate. 
  3. Highlight your own personal development projects, showcase how you’re developing your skills and your passion for what you do. Bring examples of your personal projects or explain what they are. Whether its github projects, hackathons or online courses, these are so important to talk about.

Pair programming test

Get ready for a pair programming test. If you’re new to embedded software engineering, this is where you’ll be asked to sit with a fellow coder who will watch as you code. If you’re not new to this, and know what to expect, this is the stage where vital mistakes could be made. The biggest mistake made is jumping straight into the coding. Most companies, even if you get the coding wrong, will pass you onto the next stage based on your methodology. Straight after you’re given the project, explain your methodology before you do anything else. The interviewer wants to see if you understand the ‘how’ as any mistakes made during coding can be refined / corrected later on down the line.

Tech test prep

  • If it’s your technical skills that need refining, this 4 week online boot camp for technical interviews will get you into shape. Here you can find a wide range of algorithm topics, systems design topics, live sessions and a chat room where you can collaborate and ask you peers for assistance. 
  • LeetCode is another great way to hone your technical skills. This platform is specifically designed to help you prepare for technical tests. LeetCode is preferred by Embedded Software Engineers all over the globe as it has the capability to run and test code instantly with questions you’re most likely to encounter during an interview. 
  • A++ One Coding Bootcamp take training to the next stage, also offering advice for getting the job offer. On top of this you can find mock interviews, one to one coding classes and system design classes. 

If you’re looking for more resources to help hone your interviewing abilities and differentiate yourself in the competitive technology industry, you’ll find these other blogs interesting:

Alternatively, if you’d like to talk to a consultant about job opportunities or help with interview preparation, give us a call on 0117 4280 600.

Engineering, Resources