Lessons You Can Apply to Your Next Interview
In my short career as a software engineer, I had already had the opportunity to go through hundreds of interviews.
I started looking for my first developer job just before the pandemic started, it took me six months and dozens of interviews to find my first role.
Since then I have changed roles twice, joining Glovo in September 2021 and now Uber in November 2022. Originally I was supposed to join Meta in September, but my offer was rescinded shortly before the start date, despite having signed a contract.
i decided to write a post on linkedin To vent my desperation and I was overwhelmed with community support and dozens of recruiters in my inbox. In doing so, I had the opportunity to interact with so many incredible people and interview for companies like Spotify and Uber that had previously rejected my applications.
Having already resigned from Glovo to join Meta, without any other commitments to my time, I went through about 50 interviews with over 20 companies.
During this experience, I made many mistakes and failed many interviews, but I also got great offers for what I learned.
Here are my five biggest mistakes and my learnings from them:
If you only take one thing away from the article it should be this, the goal of any interview including technical ones is showing the interviewer how you work and communicate under pressure.
And I want to emphasize the communication part!
For most companies, communication is a huge part of the evaluation, and a candidate doing an assignment perfectly but failing to explain their thought process is likely to receive a “No Hire” score.
In coding interviews for Google and other big tech, communication is valued as much as their coding ability grading rubric,
I failed many interviews due to assuming some details were obvious or that the interviewer didn’t need further explanation, or coding without explaining myself.
Now I always make sure I’m communicating my thought process clearly, and ask the interviewer if they’re following my reasoning.
Once the technical evaluation was given, I’d think about it for a moment and then immediately start coding in the direction of what I thought might be a solution.
This is a big mistake for many reasons.
Firstly, your main task in an interview is not to solve a technical problem, but to demonstrate how you work under pressure, how you communicate and remove ambiguity.
You need to understand the problem by asking questions to make sure you can deal with the uncertainty in a firm way.
Secondly, you don’t want your examiner to just point out wrong solutions to you at the end of the interview.
Before writing a single line of code, propose several solutions and get consent from your interviewer before wasting time writing an implementation that doesn’t meet the requirements.
This became incredibly apparent once I started working as an interviewer, but it was also the reason I failed so many interviews in the past.
My impression is that people in our society really struggle with active listening.
One of the biggest reasons we are bad listeners is that we are not actively listening with our full attention, but are already thinking about what we are going to say.
This is emphasized even more during an interview, where the pressure is high and time is limited.
I wanted to make the best use of my time but in reality it often resulted in me not understanding the hint, getting it right within a few minutes, and having to reevaluate the problem again.
“Listening is passive. Listening is active. The best listeners focus their attention and recruit the other senses with effort. Understanding is the goal of listening, and it takes effort.”
It’s not something that can be fixed right away, but awareness is a great start, and resources like this book Can be an incredible help.
Next time remember to pay attention to what your interviewer is saying, and make sure you understand them (ask clarifying questions!).
Another common pattern I’ve noticed as an interviewer is persistence.
If the interviewer tells you something is wrong or suggests you do something, it’s a good idea to consider their point of view! There’s nothing worse than a candidate stubbornly refusing to move in the right direction.
To practice this in the real world, try playing the role of interviewer yourself. Volunteer to interview at your organization or conduct mock interviews with your friends and take advantage of the opportunity!
I always viewed the first recruiter call as barely more than a formality.
It made it even more surprising when I was rejected from a position I was interested in for “not a culture fit”.
After talking with friends who work in recruiting, I quickly realized the size of my mistake.
The recruiter’s role is not to waste your time, but to assess whether there is a fit between your profile and the role and assess your motivation and interest in the company.
Not knowing what the company does or not showing interest in the culture may be the reason you don’t advance in the process or another candidate is ultimately selected.
It takes very little time to be better than most candidates, all you have to do is:
- Read the job description carefully, stand out during the interview, and highlight your skills using the words used in the requirements.
- Briefly research the company and get an understanding of the main products.
- Search the corporate website, specifically the page listing company values; Mentioning one or two of the reasons you are interested in the company will make a great impression on the interviewer.
i am impressed by the commitment
is for transparency, I think it really aligns with my personal values
I interviewed with Amazon this June for a mid-level engineering position.
As anyone interested in Amazon recruiting knows, they value culture fit and a lot. 14 Leadership Theories,
My recruiter was very thorough in explaining the importance of the practical part, how to use star technologyand suggesting that I make up some stories for the main characters.
explain yourself Workwhat were you trying to achieve
What was that action did you take
distribute Result and the effect on you
I underestimated this part, after all, I’ve done many behavioral interviews in the past.
I wasn’t prepared for the barrage of questions when the time came, and my stories weren’t as strong as they could have been.
Thanks to a very strong execution of the technical portion, I was able to secure an offer, but I was demoted down to the junior level for not displaying enough seniority during the leadership section.
If I had crafted my stories more carefully, I could have easily landed a higher-level offer.
To prevent this from happening to you, do your research most common interview questionsAnd craft some answers that put you in a good light.
I also strongly suggest adopting star technology And talking only about real experiences, what you did, not what you would do in a given situation.
Thank you for reading.