In preparation for our 2 year anniversary episode we will be having a series of episodes on finding a new job. We start with an overview of looking for a job and what all is involved in the process. Next week we discuss building your resume and following that we’ll have a four part series on interviewing. We discuss soft skills needed for interviews, surviving technical interviews including whiteboard and coding challenges, bad interview questions, and finish with a few mock interviews. Finally we close the finding a job series with a special episode where we will be making an announcement about something coming up.
Episodes in the series
- Getting A Job
- Building Your Resume
- Soft Skills to Ace the Interview
- Whiteboards and Coding Challenges
- Bad Interview Questions
- Mock Interviews
18:20 Get Yourself Ready
Practice your interpersonal skills through mock interviews. Ask friends or mentors to ask you interview questions. John Sonmez advised to ask strangers at the mall.
Prepare for the whiteboard and coding challenges with code katas. Start doing code katas every day. Do the same kata over and over until you’ve not only mastered it but as many variations of it as you can find. Practice solving problems without the computer via a whiteboard or just piece of paper.
“You’ve got to be outcome independent.”
Brace Yourself! Rejections is Coming! Like in sales finding a job is a numbers game. It only takes one company you like to say yes even if 100’s say no. Be ready for the majority of places you apply and interview to go with other candidates. This will happen more earlier in your career, later you’re skills are more specialized and there is less competition.
Write down questions to ask about the places you are interviewing. Use this to look for red flags that show you don’t want to work for this company. These may not even be signs they are a bad place to work just not a good fit for you.
28:28 Where to Look
The most obvious place to look is job boards. You’ll also find the most competition here as many others are looking too. This is generally not a company’s first choice for seeking new employees. It can mean they are desperate or have a lot of turn over. It could also mean that you will only be a cog in the larger organization.
Going to local user groups and meet ups can put you in touch with people who are looking to hire new developers. Many user groups will have a time at the end of the meeting for people looking for work and people hiring to make announcements. These are also places to meet people even when you aren’t looking for a job. They will be able to help you when you are looking.
“When it goes into the HR system what they do is a programmatic search for keywords.”
Another way is to apply directly to the company or look at their website for openings. If you know someone that works for the company they can put you in touch with the hiring manager and help you through the process. Try to avoid applying directly on the company website. Use the website to get the information of the hiring manager. Going through the website will put you through the HR process before the actual hiring manager ever sees your resume.
“You want to get to the point of interacting with a human being as early as possible in the process.”
If you go through HR you’ll likely be put through a key word filter or something to reduce the amount of work placed on the HR department. Use your resources such as LinkedIn to see if you have any mutual connections with anyone at the company. Especially those hiring or in management. You can get a lot of information about the company to use later in the interview process.
32:46 Recruiters (The Good, The Bad, The Ugly)
“A recruiter is walking through this process constantly with different people.”
The good thing about working with a recruiter is they do a lot of the leg work for you. They already have a reputation and established relationship with the company. Use them as a guide through the hiring process. Even if one company doesn’t work out once they know you they will be able to better filter companies for you.
Working with recruiters is not always the best plan, it can be bad. Some of them are not the most organized, do sketchy things, etc. It can also be more work than you expect.
“This is a sales person you are hiring.”
Recruiters do have reputations with companies and sometimes that can be an ugly reputation. Just like a good recruiter will get to know you do the same to see if you are willing to work with them. Not all recruiters are equal and some may even be deceptive or worse. It is up to you to choose who represents you to the places you want to work.
38:17 The Interview Process
Companies have different ways of going through the interview process. Here we will discuss a few of the common things you’ll see in the process and go into more detail in subsequent episodes. You may not see all of these at one company and you may see more than these when going through the process. It can be helpful to have a recruiter or someone from the company help you through the process.
“If you’re going through a recruiter they’ll handle this part.”
Initial contact from the company will be to set up a time for the next step in the interview process. If you are going through a recruiter they will handle this part and then contact you with the information from the company. If doing this on your own ask the person that contacts you from the company about their hiring process.
Phone interviews will usually take place with a hiring manager or person for HR before you are brought in to the company. Sometimes this part of the process is skipped if you are using a recruiter as they have done this already. It may also be a senior developer or even a contracting service they use to vet applicants. This usually lasts 20-30 minutes and usually are technical in nature though can include getting to know you questions.
“Most of them ended up with, ‘You know what StackOverflow is?'”
Next some companies will have you do a coding challenge or test your skills in some way. This is more the case when applying for junior positions than senior ones. Sometimes this will be done through the recruiter before even the first contact with the employer. Don’t stress this part as it’s more about seeing where you are and they rarely expect you to know everything on the test.
The in person interview is the bane of most introverted developers job seeking strategy. You’ll need to be friendly and outgoing at least for the hour or so at the interview. Show some humanity because you don’t have to be perfect. Remember that you are interviewing the employer too so ask questions and get a feel for how the team works and gets along.
Whiteboard problems can either put a shine on your skills or hide them in the muck of self doubt and fear. This is why you want to practice either through code katas or writing out your code on paper. When at the board enunciate your thought process. No whiteboard code compiles, the point is to show how you work through a problem.
IOT Garbage Monitoring System
This is a project that monitors the level of garbage in a can and informs you when it reaches a certain level or on how much garbage is collected. It can be used on a small scale to help know when to empty a can in say the den or kid’s playroom what you might not see often. Or it can be used on a larger scale for cities to track the amount of garbage being collected and taken to the dump. It uses an arduino microcontroller and some C skills as well as an LCD display and LED’s.
- AVR microcontroller
- Wifi Modem
- LCD display
- 12V Transformer
- Ultrasonic Sensor
- Resistors, Capacitors, Diodes
- Arduino Compiler
- IoT Gecko
- MC Programming Language: C
Tricks of the Trade
Exploit broken systems. Do not complain about them getting in your way. Instead, understand that you need to eat and deal with what is, rather than what you would like to be true. Broken systems get replaced when people exploit them, not when people are tired of them. It sucks, but things are what they are. You’re going into an engineering discipline, so deal with what is, not with what you’d have it be.