So, as part of my day job, I have the dubious honour of interviewing technical people for working in our company. It’s a chore that all the senior techs endure and I quite like it. What I don’t like is when it doesn’t go too well. So here are some tips just in case you ever get me (or someone like me) interviewing you :
- Just like first date, standing the other person up is a no-no. I’ve just wasted a day’s lunchtime that could have been spent having some excellent Thai food because some contractor couldn’t be bothered to tell us he wouldn’t be coming for a pre-arranged interview. Seriously, just don’t do it. Being late is, at least, defendable (hey – we all use the trains over here in the UK and know what they’re like), but being AWOL – particularly if someone is postponing their lunch to be able to see you is a Bad Thing.
- Blagging – generally, don’t. We all blag a bit, but there is a big difference between saying you use a tool day to day when you’ve used a handful of times ever, and just talking randomly about something until you see the interviewers face light up. We recently had one phone interview where the interviewer heard the interviewee get prompted after flailing around for 5 mins. Blag carefully.
- “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable response to a question. Nobody expects you to know everything about everything, but someone out there seems to be telling people that they must give some sort of answer and that level of blagging is silly (see above). I’d much rather trust someone who feels that they can be honest with me.
- Less is more : if you are spending 10 minutes answering each question, then you aren’t blinding me with your in-depth knowledge, you are boring me senseless. Please try and give short, concise answers – I’ll ask if I want you to go into more detail.
- Keep your CV short. I don’t need to wade through 8 pages of various project histories. I want to see 2 or 3 relavant pages of experience plus a summary with the right things on it. Don’t simply list every version of every technology under the sun that you may have touched – keep it short and you can always work the fact that you’re a dab hand with Cucumber into the interview
- Lastly, the interview is about how you are going to do the job at the company interviewing you, not how you currently do it now. Think about that. I am a testing fascist – to me unit tests are sacred and integration and web-tier testing are critical success factors in a project. If you don’t do it now, then shrugging your shoulders and going ‘oh we don’t bother with that stuff’ isn’t going to greatly impress me. Think about what I want to hear you say : I want to hear you complain bitterly that not enough testing takes place in your opinion.
So do a little bit of research into the company you are going to and make sure that you know what kind of place it is and how they do things. Then swot up a little bit – Agile is common these days but people rarely get it 100% right so ask how the company does at implementing it all : that should keep them on their toes.