31

I am a software engineer, I get confused what to answer, where to start, when I am asked this question: "Tell me about your last project?"

I usually start with the problem description, then stating the solution as the project. Project architecture, one line intro about all the modules. By this time the interviewer looses interest or very desperate to finish quickly just wants me to jump straight to my module.

Listening 2-3 sentences they guess and ask me 2-3 direct technical questions before wrapping up. I find it difficult to answer these questions as, they had not allowed me to fully explain the modules. So I feel they might assume me as a person who has insufficient knowledge about the project or my module.

What's the best way to explain a big project within few minutes. And how would I know what they are looking for? ( Should I just limit my explanation limited to their requirement?)

  • 1
    Start with a more basic answer and let them ask for more details if they want them. – jmorc May 28 '13 at 15:50
  • 6
    Are you selling your project or yourself? If you are selling your project, it might make sense to introduce all the modules. If you are selling yourself, it probably makes sense to jump straight into your module. – emory May 28 '13 at 22:47
59

Yes, you should just limit your explanation to their requirement. As an interviewer, I am asking this question not to get the full picture of the project, but simply to understand enough to ask you follow-up questions. That's the real point of this question: to see whether you can explain the "why did you do x instead of y?". It's in those follow-up questions that you get to show that you really understood the full project. If you try to show all your understanding up-front, you will get bored looks, as you have already encountered. Also, explaining it up-front only shows that you've been able to memorize a script, not that you really understood the project.

Be especially careful of this with phone interviews, as you will not be able to read their body language. I've performed lots of phone interviews where I asked a simple question and got a 5-minute monologue which I then had to try to interrupt tactfully. At a bare minimum, you should pause at spots and ask something like "would you like to hear more detail on that, or does that give you the basics of what you wanted to know?"

  • 1
    Welcome to The Workplace and nice answer! – enderland May 28 '13 at 22:32
  • 11
    "would you like to hear more detail on that, or does that give you the basics of what you wanted to know?" I have interviewed more people than I can count. I don't think I've ever heard one of them say anything like this, drop this line on me and you'll have my attention (in a good way) Not many people consider the fact sometimes you really only want or need the bird's eye view on something. – RualStorge Oct 17 '14 at 17:08
7

Keep it short and sweet by trying to stick to the following points:

Planning implementation and achieving results

Describe the project, activity or event which you have worked on and taken through to a conclusion. Include your objective, what you did, any changes you made or assisted in implementing plans and state how you measured your success.

Influencing, communication and teamwork

Describe how you have achieved a goal through influencing the actions and opinions of others (perhaps in a team context). What were the circumstances? What did you do to make a difference? How do you know the result was satisfactory?

Analysis, problem solving and creative thinking

Describe a difficult problem that you have solved during this project. State how you decided which the critical issues were. Say what you did and what your solution was. What other approaches could you have taken?

4

"Tell me about your last project?"

I usually start with the problem description, then stating the solution as the project. Project architecture, one line intro about all the modules. By this time the interviewer looses interest [...].

Try this:

  1. Short sentence on what problem your last project was solving

  2. If the architecture (or anything else) gave you bigger responsibilities or challenges that you overcame, mention them briefly here. As an interviewer, I wouldn't care that your project had six modules or what they were (I am not an interviewer).

  3. Speak about your activity/responsibility in the last project.

E.g.: My last project was adding a reporting module for an in-house data management system. I was in charge of loading all the wibbles and generating wibble-reports from the non-expired ones, in real time.

-6

The best way would be to prepare a powerpoint slide (case study) with client background, about the project/ project focus, Problem description and solution, Business value (if needed), Key achievements in this order. Remember all headings can have 3 to 5 bullet points or a 4 or 5 line para. The entire slide fills up and whatever question interviewer asks will fall into any one of the headings.

  • 2
    I don't think this is plausible if you're asked in the interview without prior notice... – Telastyn Oct 17 '14 at 15:23
  • 2
    this doesn't seem to add anything substantial over points made and explained in prior answers – gnat Oct 17 '14 at 15:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.