Preparing for RPA Interviews
If you’re new to RPA and are getting ready to apply for your first job, you’re probably wondering what to expect in the interview process.
Most likely you’ll have at least two interviews: one (or possibly more) that covers typical behavioral interview questions to gauge cultural fit, experience and background, and a technical interview (usually with an RPA developer at the company) whose purpose is to gauge RPA technical skills and experience. Here we’ll be taking a closer look at this second category- though some of the topics may be relevant to general interviews and discuss what you could expect in a technical interview and how best to prepare.
It’s likely that the interviewer will start the conversation by saying, “So, tell me a little bit about yourself.” You’ll want to have a polished, 1–2 minute answer (aka “elevator pitch”) ready to go with this one since it forms the interviewer’s first impression of you and can really set the tone for the rest of the interview.
I like to think of the elevator pitch less as a selling of yourself and convincing them that you’re absolutely the best person for this job, and more of an overview of who you are as a person and why you are pursuing this role. This question can be especially advantageous if you have a different background than the traditional candidate for this role. It allows you to highlight the experiences, skills, attributes and values that make you unique and right for this position but might not show up on your resume- and not just work experiences, but also life experiences that have shaped and developed you as a person.
For example, I have an obvious gap of several years in my resume. The elevator pitch allows me to address this in a positive way - I was a military spouse and decided to step back from the workforce due to my husband’s deployments when we had young children, moving overseas, and ultimately taking care of a child with a terminal illness - and highlight skills and values that are exemplified in my journey to RPA, such as the willingness to take risks and learn new skills.
RPA Knowledge and Experience
After the introductions, the interviewer will probably dive right into asking about your RPA experience or ask follow-up questions to the RPA-related topics you mentioned in your elevator pitch. Obviously, addressing experience can be tricky when pursuing your first RPA job. If you’ve gone through the WYWM RPA pipeline, it’s important to mention that you were trained through an authorized training partner of UiPath, Blue Prism, and/or Automation Anywhere and became a certified developer (if you have taken the exams). Be sure to mention that you completed the software- agnostic RPA Analyst course as well and are knowledgeable and experienced with the RPA documents. This is an area where most developers are not trained but it is necessary in any RPA position.
This is also a great time to bring up the RPA projects you completed for the WYWM courses in order to showcase your practical knowledge and experience. Be prepared to discuss the objective of the project and how you configured the bot to achieve the desired result. If you really want to impress, have a project or two ready to go and ask the interviewer if you can screen-share and run it in real time. Be sure to discuss how exception handling was used in the process and how the queues were managed in the Control Room or Orchestrator.
In addition to these, the interviewer may ask general questions about RPA to gauge your level of understanding. Here are a few to think about:
- What would you look for in a process when deciding if it’s a good candidate for automation?
- What would you say to a client who is reluctant to implement RPA in their organization?
- What does development best practice mean to you?
- What are some things to be careful of when multiple developers are working on the same project?
They may also ask more specific, scenario-based questions such as:
- Here are the details of three business processes. Rank them in order of easiest to hardest to automate and explain your choice.
- Here are some details of a part of a business process. Describe or draw (using flow charts) how you would automate this.
It’s possible that they will send you a process to automate ahead of time and then will discuss the assignment in the interview. For a consultant position, they may have you prepare a presentation based off the assignment and present that. This not only helps them see your technical skills, but also gauge your fit for a client-facing role where the ability to explain technical concepts to a non-technical audience is important.
In preparation for the technical interview, check out the RPA Challenges on Rallypoint. These are about the same level of skill that you will most likely see and may be similar to the questions or projects you’ll encounter during the interview process.
Other Technical Skills
RPA projects often involve other technical skills. Any additional skills you have, such as SQL, programming languages, data analytics, cloud computing, etc, should definitely be on your resume. If they are, the interviewer will probably bring them up and want to hear more about your experience with them. If they happen to ask whether you have experience with a certain skill that you haven’t had any exposure to yet, don’t worry! The best answer goes something like, “I don’t have experience with that yet, but I’m always eager to learn new skills.” Since technology is constantly evolving, demonstrating a willingness and enthusiasm to take on new challenges is the most important thing. If you’re new to RPA, this is obviously something you’re good at- don't be afraid to emphasize this in an interview.
In addition to technical skills, you’ll want to highlight any project management and agile methodology experience you have, both on your resume and in the interview. For any position, particularly if you are applying for a consultant or other client-facing role, RPA technical skills are just one part of the job. The ability to collaborate, communicate effectively, actively listen and other strengths related to emotional intelligence are all necessary. Be sure to highlight your experiences with and aptitude for these. Remember that from the employer’s perspective, these are much harder to teach than technical skills.
One Last Suggestion...
As you start searching for a job, one of the most beneficial things you can do is network with other RPA analysts and developers. LinkedIn makes this easy; a friendly connect-request letting them know you’re new to RPA can pave the way for insightful conversations, or even possibly job leads and referrals. Don’t underestimate the power of connections - it’s one of the most powerful tools you can use when searching for a job, especially in a new industry.