Interviewing

All Job Applications & Interviews Overview

  • Over 150 applications over 4 months: October 2021 — January 2022
  • Over 20 official rejections (via email), 99% without even one interview — one even came on Christmas Day. Heartless company, haha.
  • 9 first round interviews
  • 8 coding assessments / take-home assignments (one took over 30 hours, others are timed: e.g. 10 mins to code an answer)
  • 2 second round interviews
  • 2 third round interviews
  • 1 meeting with the CTO and 1 with the CEO
  • 2 offers for a full time job

Software Developer Resume / Curriculum Vitae

  • Inconsistent formatting: all spacing, fonts, colours, layout — these must be consistent throughout.
  • Spelling & grammar, it’s JavaScript not javascript. Be correct & consistent
  • Irrelevant bulk to fill up a page, such as hobbies, interests, jobs pre-2010. Super large headings, loads of spacing — you are wasting space to push it to being a full page or two, and it is alway very obvious.
  • Weird colours: no reds, no greys, no highlighting. Just make it easy to read at a glance. Think — would I see this type of format on a website that is popular?
  • Too long, when it’s an 8 point font and 800 words long, they can’t read it all. Get to the point at the top of the page. Shorten it if you need. 10 point font is good, 14 font is too big.
  • You may not know the coding languages they need, it’s just a requirement.
  • You don’t have enough experience for the role, they need a more senior level person.
  • Remember, the recruiting team might have upwards of 100 resumes for one job in the first day of posting that job.

My top tips:

  • Keep it to black and blue font colours only (blue for links and headings only, black for everything else), no background colours.
  • Use links to your: GitHub, portfolio, blog, deployed projects. Have your email and phone number at the top.
  • If you are new to coding (without professional experience) put the 3 best projects you have on the resume. These should be deployed, nice looking and fully functional from a guest perspective. Hiring Managers are not going to sign up to anything, they don’t have time for that.
  • 1 page resume is great, but if you have been working for more than 10 years (even in non-tech roles) then 1.5 or 2 pages is okay. More than 2 pages is absurd — cut it down. Brief is best. I have screened people for non-tech roles, I can tell you that they only spend 2 mins per resume.

Blog / Portfolio / GitHub

  • Use Medium.com AND put it on your portfolio website.
  • Side note: don’t put your phone number or email on the website, be careful not to share that information with everyone on the internet. You will get spam calls about your car warranty. I have had so many,… without owning a car. So there’s that.
  • An app that uses an API, such as a Weather App.
  • CRUD website — a website that is deployed and that creates, reads, updates and deletes information. It could be full stack, as in front end and backend with a database and everything.
  • Chat App — try to use sockets.
  • To-Do List App — simple, but make it look nice.

LinkedIn

  • Google Jobs, Indeed, CyberCoders, SimplyHired, TechFetch, it can be hard to spread yourself across all of these and apply and keep up with prospective recruiters reaching out to you. Just do LinkedIn, my top tip.
  • If you can afford it, get LinkedIn Premium. It will tell you when someone views your profile, you can message people and for $32 per month, it’s worth it in the end. You get stats on your views and you can target/message people who are looking at your profile after applying.
  • Stay active on LinkedIn, check your messages, and keep applying/responding. Even on weekends.
  • In your message, be original and brief, ask to chat with them about the role.
  • Better yet, find someone else in the company (with the same or a higher up role) and ask them questions.
  • If no one responds, don’t take it too hard. It’s not you, they might get loads of those messages.

Cover Letters

Coding Interviews

  1. Application / Cover Letter
  • 96% of these go nowhere, they get you nothing
  • These are important, so you need to prepare. Ask as many questions that you can:
  • How much is the salary, where do you work (remote / office), what coding languages will you use, what are the hours like, culture views?
  • What is the interviewing process like, where will you code in the interview (LeetCode, Replit, HackerRank, other)?
  • Be ready to say why you want to be in this job / at this company? Show interest & do research!
  • Afterwards, ask for feedback, even if you think it went great. Especially if it doesn’t go well.
  • Can you do what you say you are skilled in? Practice, a lot. So much practice!
  • Afterward, ask them for feedback. You can always improve (show them that you plan to always be improving your skills and knowledge!)
  • Interest is valued, have good questions. Be prepared for technical topics, and ask questions on that. Think of big company questions for the CTO.
  • Do even more research. The CTO is a technically skilled, very high up person. Be sure you can answer their questions (it won’t be baby level coding questions). But more importantly, have some specific questions for them.
  • For team interviews make sure you research who does what in the team, who is the team lead, who is the senior developer, have questions about culture, when and why there are meetings, flow of projects, typical duration of a sprint or project, etc.
  • This is a great sign when you get to this stage.
  • Interest is valued, have great questions on company values, projected growth areas, how can you contribute to this?
  • Don’t mess up here. Again have researched questions that show you care about the company. This person is the leader, show them you appreciate their time and consideration by being super engaged with the company and its future.
  • This is an excellent sign to be at this stage.
  • You may not have a lot of time to mull this over, be prepared to reply and to sign a contract soon.
  • Check benefits, salary, requirements: are these inline with your goals? Ask for more, it won’t hurt at this stage.
  • Is it fully remote, hybrid, do you have to relocate to an office. There should be no surprises here, as you should have already discussed these at the phone screen.
  • You always always always have “another offer” for a similar or higher amount.
  • Most importantly, you are always still interviewing until you start the job. You are bargaining here. Be smart and be fair (to yourself and to them). And that job is not guaranteed based on an offer letter! Many letters have a clause in them that says they can rescind the offer at any time, for any reason. Keep applying and interviewing just in case.
  • This varies greatly, depending on the company.
  • You need to make sure that you follow their instructions exactly.
  • If you think they won’t drug test you, they will. Pass this test or say goodbye to that high paying job.
  • Your background check might involve just calling up your past employers, or it might be you providing tax documents for the last seven years. You need to be honest, it needs to match your resume. Even if it was a non-coding role.
  • Background checks can take weeks, or months. You should still keep applying. The company can rescind the offer at any point, for any reason they find. You are not employed yet, so keep that in mind.

In the Interview

  • Be personable, smile, be conversational, friendly and above all yourself. Being yourself will ensure that you don’t have to pretend for weeks and months in a role that doesn’t suit who you are in a team.
  • Do not ramble on for 3 minutes answering one question, their time is precious. Get to the point with your answers.
  • Have an introduction prepared for the: ‘Tell us more about you” question. Write it down and practice it. It should not be too long. It is not your life story it is an opportunity to explain why you got into and love coding.
  • Know what the company does, what the coding stack is, number of employees, current customers. Anything and everything you can find. (Use LinkedIn about pages, Google, and the company’s own website.
  • Your weaknesses and strengths. Have examples of these that relate to working with code. Explain how you currently improve on the weaknesses. Explain how you could use the strengths to help their business. Think beginning, middle, end for telling these like a very brief story.
  • A difficult time in a team (where you got along despite others difficulty or helped to improve an outcome). Be careful not to throw anyone under the bus, you’re being tested on your professionalism and tact.
  • A failed project (where you learned something).
  • Why did you apply for this particular job? Again, know about the company and their goals.
  • Always have some questions that are relevant for the stage of the process and interviewer you have at that moment.
  • Ask what and when the next steps are. Ask the interviewer how you can prepare for these.
  • Ask what you want to know! Ask early on what the salary is or the culture, ask later on what the team and on-boarding is going to be like. And ask how you can make a difference to the CTO, CEO.

Research the Company

Failure

Perceived Success

Actual Success That Leads to Failure

My Final Tips

Self

Hiring Manager / Recruiter

Resume

Keeping Track

  • Name of the company and a link to the job listing.
  • The person you contacted, their email and LinkedIn profile.
  • Link to the company website.
  • Whether it needed a cover letter (save these too).
  • The date you applied.
  • The date(s) you followed up and how (email or LinkedIn message).
  • The date they responded (if at all).
  • Dates of interviews and notes from each one.
  • Rejections go in red or grey.

Conclusion

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