The university I went requires us to attend a semester of Internship of IT position at a company in order to graduate. To let students find internship and job opportunity easily, my university organizes a career fair every semester and quite a number of company had came over to hunt for prospective undergraduates or interns. I went to the career fair to find a company to undergo internship.
I am glad that I followed some advices from StackOverflow back then and started to do some side project and hosted them on Github and DigitalOcean. Instead of writing fancy and lengthy resume like most of my peers do, I followed Danny's template and written a concise 2-pages resume, however, some recruiter told me that my resume is too short =w=" , take my advice on this with a grain of salt.
Anyhow, instead of letting interviewer probe my skill level by answering technical questions, I showed some of my iOS app and website to them and explained how I built them (extra bonus point if your app is available in app/play store). Most of the interviewers seems impressed by this approach and 80% of them offered me an internship position on the spot and 20% invited me to next round of interview at their company, I was kinda shocked when they give me an offer on the spot and want me to accept it immediately, I had to turn down many of it as they don't let me to take it home and decide . If you have a working app/website or even just a prototype with basic function to show them and can explain how you built them, you are already ahead of 90% of your university peers, seriously, especially in Malaysia where I found most of my coursemates don't even touch a line of programming code outside of class and assignment. Having a good portfolio puts you ahead of the curve and you get to choose the career you want instead of letting them choose you. If you ask me to choose between good grades and good side project portfolio, I would choose the latter as long as I have a passing grade that allows me to graduate from University. Company will only judge your grade when you don't have something solid to show them, it's the only thing they can gauge from your resume when you don't have other achievement to back it up. If the company insist on your grades even when you have some demonstrable side project/ app on app store, you probably don't want to work for them as they value formal certification more than practicality.
Other than technical competency, I feel that personality and mindset also play a key part during interview. First and foremost, Don't interrupt your interviewer when he/she is speaking , unless he/she keep blabbing unrelated stuff, though this might be a rare case. Each interruption will deduct 5 points of your initial impression, I have seen one of my course mate got lectured by the interviewer because he keeps interrupt the interviewer and the interviewer is very unhappy about it. Secondly, think in the interviewer or employer shoes whenever possible, don't ask about number of off-days, working perks and salary before they even interview about your skill set. Would you hire a person who asked for high pay and tons of off day before you even started to ask him technical question? no right? You wouldn't want to waste the company money hiring an employee that you don't know whether he/she will help your company earns more. The end purpose of hiring is to make the company has the ability to earn more money, you want spend $3000 hiring an employee that can help your company earn extra more $4000 per month, not the other way round. And last but not least, don't undervalue yourself if you are confident in your ability and can demonstrate it, don't be afraid asking for more if you think your value is worth more than the interviewer/employer proposed. I have seen a local Malaysia company posting ad hiring PHP developer with requirement like experience implementing HTML/CSS/Jquery (frontend work), wordpress customization, opencart integration etc for measly RM2500 (~600 USD)per month. I feel sad for the state of hiring of IT company in Malaysia, not to blame local companies but when you compare the pay between foreign company and local company in Malaysia, it's a bit of huge gap, I feel that most Malaysian employer is unwilling to afford (that much) for talents that are very demanding in this decade.
Anyhow, hope this post has helped you on preparing the interview process. I would like to hear your about your thoughts or experience on interviewing in the comments! 😁