Part 2: Hiring Series – So you got an interview

This new series in my hiring series talks about what you can expect from interviews. From the call ins to the in person interviews. I will cover the dos and don’ts.

Mind Your Surroundings

When you finally get that interview, expect it to usually be a phone interview first. Rarely do I ever have an in person interview first. The phone interview is quite important in my opinion because in some cases it’s to see how you are able to use technology. Now what does this mean? Most companies use a call in number and code, and I know some people have a hard time figuring out the call in codes. That’s a big red flag. Also I know some people have trouble finding a quiet room. Because you will hear a lawnmower in the background or the person has literally been stuck in traffic…which brings me to my next point.

When you schedule a phone interview, make sure you triple check your calendar. You never want to double stack anything. Also you don’t want to worry about the fact that you have something back to back with your interview. The last thing you want is to have many things in the back of your mind and deterring your focus from your interview.

One of the things you should keep in mind is who the phone interview is with. If it’s with someone in HR, most of the time this is the pre-interview they don’t know the ins and outs of what goes on in the position you are applying for. They are just looking for you to say good key buzzwords and make good impressions. Also if I am talking to just the HR person, I avoid asking too many technical questions like what systems do they use or if they use certain frameworks because they might not know.

In Persona

The in person interview is the final step or steps to the end all be all before you accept the job or if you luck out. When going into a interview I always get asked should I be dressed nice…well honestly it sort of depends. It always depends on the company you are going into. When I have met with start ups, they are never dressed up nice, its always something like you see out of silicon valley. Now if its at a enterprise company, yes you better dress up. Larger companies are usually always dressed up. Also one the way I figure out is I look into what the culture of the company is like, I will usually check on their instagram and see how everyone is dressed and try to dress accordingly or stick to my style. It just comes down to the company.

Now one of the things I get asked is what should someone expect from a in person interview, well you should expect to meet with a few people. Interviews at smaller companies usually involve a few people where as enterprise companies you could be meeting with the HR person, then the manager with a few team members, the leader of that department. And possibly a CEO of the company. Everything varies from company to company. Now how long should interviews take? This again varies from company to company. Some take an hour and others take a entire day.

Why do some take longer than others? this is a very good question. I remember some of the companies I interviewed for would like to see me build something from a set of variables just to make sure I could ya know code. Now I will touch on this later what some companies have tried to pull a fast one in the past. Some companies will look over your work and contact your references and not need to see if you can actually do the things they do cause they take the word of people who put in good words for you. It all depends on the company cause some don’t have the time to test someone the entire day but instead only have an hour for each person. Its how it goes.

When I have interviews with companies I will NOT PLAN ANYTHING THAT DAY. I don’t have doctors appointments, I don’t have dinner appointments or anything else that day, that day is all about that interview. The reason for that is if something goes wrong which has happened and my interview has been delayed or pushed up. Cause life happens and I like to be prepared for what can happen. Plus if a interview stretches into something longer and you are scheduled at 4 and plan to leave at 5 cause you have a dinner at 5:30 you don’t want to be distracted by constantly looking at your watch.

With a interview, always be polite, and shake hands and REMEMBER NAMES and faces. This is one of those things that people tend to forget to do. Especially with developers, they tend to be the shy awkward type. When I go into an interview, I know I have nothing to lose. This interview is for figuring out if you should fit in a position. The last thing you want is to find out if this position is not for you come a year down the road.

Your Interview Rights

One of the things however that I watch out for which has been tried to be pulled on me. Is when a company has sent me an “example” to do. It actually pertains to a client of theirs and the interview “test” is actually for me to do free client work for them and use that as an interview tool to hire someone on. Now how did I figure this out? Well without giving away names, I was sent something to do, and it actually was for a client cause it was on their client list which is posted on their website. Now I have had to do a test example which my test examples have NOTHING to do with the company. Like imagine working for a tech company and they give you a project that talks about pencil sharpeners. Like something whacky and outlandish. And all the content and images are literally not real companies or any real content. What should you do if you get something where the company is trying to score free work. I politely email the company and tell them I am not wishing to move forward or if we are in the office I will just politely say I don’t feel comfortable with this example and will be happy to leave. Yes I might not get the job but I don’t want to feel like I am doing something that borders on unethical.

You might be surprised but you are fully allowed to not answer certain questions if they don’t pertain to the actual position. Such as for example if you are asked who you voted for in the past election. You are FULLY able to say “This does not pertain to this company or the position. “ or if they ask you personal questions like “are you expecting a child.” yes you are fully able to say no and those kind of questions have come up, from several stories I have been told about. Are companies allowed to ask you personal questions? Sort of which I will touch on later.

Persona Non Grata

When I go and meet with a company I look at a few things that might be second guess the company atmosphere and if its all just a smoke screen to cover something. Such as how a company will treat its employees and or will provide the tools needed to complete the task. How does someone look out for this? Well one thing I definitely pay attention to are the reviews on glassdoor or indeed are saying. Cause you can notice a trend in certain reviews if they are complete lies or just a unset past worker. But another thing I look out for is the cars in the parking lot to said company. Such as for example, if in the owner’s spot they have a brand new jag, but everyone else has a 10 year old nissan sentra or something close to it then that will raise an eyebrow. Another thing that can lead to me saying no or walking away is when I notice that the developer team is using old dells with like 2 gigs of ram. Yes I have noticed this, it makes me question when a company can’t supply the tools to complete the tasks that have been put in front of them.

I also look into the people who run the place and do social checks on the people. Cause if I see something like the owner of the company is constantly posting pictures from a yacht and people on glassdoor are saying this person runs the company like just a extra bank account while everyone elses busts their butts over their work then I will definitely inquire about such things. Cause the last thing I want to do is work at a company that doesn’t value their workers or don’t allow for growth and want their workers just to make them money.

Now can you ask a company about past jobs? Yes and no. One of the things I have inquired out is the requirements for the job, such as were these requirements the same at the beginning versus in the end or did the role expand and if so did the salary expand and if the position has room to continue to grow. I will also inquire about if I am seeing things on websites about consistent negative reviews over business or aspects such as a unhealthy inbalance of work / play.

However as I said earlier the personal questions are sort of allowed but not allowed. If you have social media which I assume you do, then they are allowed to fully vet your social media if its public, now if it is private and if they use a third party service to look into your social media then that can be an issue that could border on illegal but if your social media is public and they find posts of you talking mess about a company you use to work then they are fully able to inquiry about it and hold that against your application just as you are able to vet their past company hires.

Also just a note I recently read an article about people “ghosting” jobs interviews and jobs themselves. Don’t do that, the last thing you want to do in the tech industry is ruin your reputation and ghosting a job interview is a big no no. If you are unable to make a interview or something comes up you should email the people with a clear and precise, do not ever send a text looking email that is short handed. Be clear, be precise and be courteous and be sure you ask about rescheduling. Murphys law can and will happen and always plan for anything and everything.

IN CLOSING

Job interviews in person are very uneasy, they are meeting people for the first time and trying to impress them. I have always said interviews are like first dates, you are trying to figure out if the company is right for you and if you are right for the company. Its always ok to turn down a position cause maybe the company isn’t right for you and it is ok to be turned down for a company. We will definitely talk about that come next blog cause it can be pretty hard accepting thats how things are at first but don’t worry I got a lot to say on that.

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