Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tips on The Interview: What you may be missing...

So, you got the interview huh? What now? You are likely expecting me to tell you things like act natural, have a few questions ready, or something like that. Well, that has already been done, and frankly, we have all read those suggestions hundreds of times. Instead, I would like to discuss the half of the interview most of us aren’t even aware of, the part where we are interviewing them.
Sure, there is always a part where they ask us if we have any questions, and yes we always have one or two. These however, don’t even scratch the surface. Often times candidates ask these questions for no reason other than to show interest in the company, and really don’t even care about the response. This is a missed opportunity.
Instead of simply trying to impress a potential employer, so we can get the job, it is our responsibility to fully vet them just as they are trying to do to us. It is likely you will be working with these people for quite a while, and don’t you want to know just who they are beforehand? I like to look at it as if it were a first date. This is time to get to know each other and decide if we want to move on to the next level.
First, understand, like you they are trying to put their best foot forward. This means they aren’t going offer up the fact that the have had high turnover over the last year, that would be a red flag. Agile development is in, so they may tell you they are an “agile shop”, I can tell you I have known many of organizations that do think that simply because they have a meeting they call “stand up”.

What about their work? Is it up to your standards? They will likely ask to see examples of your code, you should do the same. I like to ask what project are you most proud of. I then ask to see it white boarded at a high level. Additionally, every company has some legacy app that no one wants to work on, I want to know as much as possible about that as well. It is highly likely you will spend a lot of time on that one, at least in the beginning.

References, most companies ask for references, and while it is tough to get something like that in return, you can check glass door and other internet sources for comments from previous employees. You may or may not have goggled them, do it. I had one potential employer that I found tons of chatter about, one of their products was a toolbar. The chatter was questioning if that product was a virus! It wasn’t of course, but I realized, I wouldn’t have been happy working for a company with such a bad reputation.
In summary, the responsibility lies with us as developers to make sure that a potential employer is a good fit. Too often we forget this then wonder how we got where we are today. The employer is checking you out six ways to Sunday, shouldn’t you do the same?

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