Even the most talented developer doesn’t always land the best job. Why? It is often about what happened in the interview.
As I have interviewed candidates over the years, I have continually realized how many technical candidates are lacking interview skills. Not that they can’t interview, but they rely more on the interviewer knowing and understanding what they bring to the table than on speaking up about their own personal value. Many have even masterfully laid out their resumes and included all the buzz words but when asked to talk about themselves are unable to give me enough to warrant a second interview.
Since many of you have mastered assorted codebase SDKs, design patterns, and an SDLC methodology or two, let me share a few pointers so you can better master that next interview:
1. Know the company and job description. Job seekers often apply for so many jobs they can’t even remember who they are talking to or about. When you schedule the interview, clarify the job and ask if there is an updated description you can acquire before you come in or speak to anyone by phone.
2. Know how you fit the role for which you are applying. If it’s a mobile development role in native applications, can you describe the native apps on which you have worked? Did you personally draft the whole app or were you part of a team? If you don’t have experience, show that you’ve at least done some research. For example, know the difference between native, responsive, and tools like PhoneGap.
3. Demonstrate excitement or desire for the field for which you are interviewing. Tell us why you want to work in mobile. What apps are your guilty pleasures? Where is mobile going in the next 5 years in your opinion?
4. Know why you are looking for a new role. Why are you interested in this role? Describe your frustrations without saying your current role “sucks.” Is it time for a change? Do you need more of a challenge? Did your employment end at your last role? Be positive, and don’t knock your past.
5. If it is on your resume, you should be able to talk about it. This comes back to: did you build the whole app by yourself or with a team? For what parts were you responsible? What tools did you use? Pro tip: always keep a list of tools you used even if not on your resume. If you previewed a tool but did not use it 4-8 hours per day, I would not count it as used. Also, as I would expect you have used multiple versions of word processors, spreadsheets, and other OS versions, you don’t need those listed.
6. Have some standard questions you ask in all interviews. Here are some I recommend:
- When I start, what can I do immediately in my position to make a difference or impact for you?
- Upon hire, what are the first three things I can expect to do or three things that will need to be completed ?
- Overall what can I do to make the biggest impact in this role for you and the organization ?
7. Know how to talk about being on a team and team dynamics. Rarely is development done solo anymore, so what roles have you played on a team, what did you contribute, how did you handle conflict, was the project successful? Again have examples prepared.
8. Be ready to code on a computer, whiteboard or something else. Also, if you have coding samples, bring them. At Double Encore, we ask candidates to code before coming in and we will discuss code both on the phone and in person. Other companies may have you come in and give you a problem. Don’t be surprised if this is asked.
9. Know the process and work within it. When you start talking with a company recruiter or other employer representative, know and understand the process and timeline. Avoid being surprised by extra interviews and longer processes to make a decision.
10. Address salary questions with real numbers. Saying “Market Rate” is not an answer. Neither is “what do you pay?” If you know what you need and want to be making, say it, give a range, and then discuss. Include your thoughts on insurance (don’t forget your family), 401K, vacation, and other benefits if these are important in your decision process. If you ask for what you are worth and the company agrees, they will make you the right offer. Avoid the back and forth negotiations that drag. Some companies might just move on to someone less difficult.
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