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Why I interview even when I am happy at my job?

ankursheel profile image Ankur Sheel Originally published at ankursheel.com on ・5 min read

Every year I dust off my resume and apply for a couple of jobs that look interesting. Do I do that because conventional wisdom in the tech industry says that if you don’t change jobs every 1-2 years you lose money or because I am not happy at my current job? Sometimes that has been true but most of the time I have interviewed with other companies regardless.

You might be wondering - Why do I put myself through the ordeal that is an interview?

Humble Beginnings

It all started when I was asked to interview other candidates. Not having interviewed anyone before, I decided the easiest way to formulate my interviewing style and get some questions to ask other people is to go on interviews myself and ask what other interviewers asked me.

But, there were additional benefits that I didn’t foresee and that’s why I continue doing it to this day.

Additional Benefits

Tweak my interviewing style

I have already mentioned this but it helps me formulate and tweak my interviewing style.

Am I fairly compensated?

By comparing the offers I get and what other companies are willing to offer, I can get a good sense of whether my current company is paying me fairly.

Practice makes Perfect

Since I am happy in my current job, all interviews are low stakes. I can experiment with different styles, see what resonates and when I eventually need a new job, I will be better at interviewing. After all, practice makes perfect.

Talk about what you love

An added advantage of low stake interviews is that the interviews become fun. I get to have a conversation with other people who are interested in similar stuff as I am and actually talk about the things I love doing.

Find the gaps

It gives me a good indication of the gaps in my skill set. Most of the concepts remain the same across interviews. I can just read up on what I didn’t know and be better prepared the next time. As an aside, this also gives me a good idea of what tech stack to experiment with for my side(toy) projects.

Confidence Booster

Not only is a job offer a confidence booster, but it is proof that I am not trapped in my job. I am staying because I want to, not because I have to.

Network

After some of the interviews, even though I have rejected the offer, I am still in touch with the interviewers and I think it will be helpful if I ever need to find a new job.

Killer Offers

Sometimes I have received that killer offer that I just haven’t been able to turn down. You don’t believe me. I have some examples below

Insider Information

I get insider info on how the company works, what they do well, what they don’t.

Is it a good fit or a mismatch

For some of the companies, I realized that they would never be a good fit for the way I like to work and if I ever need to look for a job, I shouldn’t waste my time applying to them. Nothing wrong with the companies themselves but the difference in styles would have made me very unhappy. Some examples below

Killer Offers

Life was good but I got to move to a new country

I had no plans to move. I was being paid above market rate and enjoying my work. I was in a city where all my school and university friends had ended up. I was upskilling like crazy. I applied to international companies to get some fodder for when I had to take interviews. One of them resulted in an offer with a visa sponsorship and a healthy relocation package and I found myself in New Zealand.

Living the dream

I had just received a couple of awards and was enjoying my work with a potentially high paying career in front of me. I interviewed with a game development company just for the fun of it. Even though I had to take a significant pay cut, it resulted in me moving to the games industry and living the dream.

Autonomy and a Healthy Culture

I was enjoying the work and learning a lot of new things but I was falling behind market rate on the salary scale. I still had a couple of months before I would have started looking in earnest. Again, got a call by a recruiter for a startup. Met the people and had some really good conversations. I didn’t have to negotiate to get what I knew I could command in the market for my skill. I got a lot of autonomy and was able to put into practice my passion for building a healthy culture and a really jelled team

An offer that I just could not refuse

I was burnt out and decided to take a break from development and help out a friend with his business. A recruiter called me for an interview which I went to just because it was a paid trip to a city where a lot of my friends lived. I had no intention of taking the job because the opportunity did not excite me at all.

I am glad I went. Not only was the work very interesting but they made me an offer that I just could not refuse. This was one of the best companies I worked for. I learnt a lot. This was also the place where I realized what having a good manager can do to your productivity and growth.

Mismatch in Style

  • Everything went well but then they low balled me on the offer.
  • Ghosted me for a month or so before getting back to me and asking me to come for another interview without giving any reason for the silence.
  • Wouldn’t agree to start the process until I gave them my current salary.
  • Wouldn’t agree to have a chat before asking me to spend some time on a coding test.
  • One-way video interview as the part of the process - Need I say more?
  • Shared music on the floor the whole day.
  • A few because the tech stack or the product or the team didn’t interest me enough.
  • A coding test in which I had to keep a granular track of the hours spent.
  • A mandate for Mob programming / Pair Programming as the only way to work.
  • A bunch of recruiters who disappeared after the initial call. They all went on my blacklist.

If I had spoken to any of them when I was desperate for a job, I would have probably taken the offer and been extremely unhappy. Interviewing when there was no need helped me avoid that fate. It also narrows down the companies I can focus on if I ever have to look.

Am I wasting other peoples time when I have no plans to quit?

No, I always tell them that I’m happy at my current company. If they still want to continue with the process, they know that they will need to offer something exceptional for me to consider making a move.

Even though, so far everyone has continued with the interview process, they can always stop.

Do you interview even when you are not actively looking? Let me know in the comments.

Discussion

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Editor guide
 

That's a great idea to practice interviews with no pressure. 😊👍Happy Saturday 😊

 

Yeah, its surprising how differently we behave in interviews with and without pressure. Would love to hear about your experience once you start. Let me know if I can help in any way. Happy Saturday. 🙂

 

Thank you! 😊

 

I agree with this, I interview with some companies every now and then just to see. a lot of the time I end up filling in the gaps that I thought I was solid in.

By doing this I get a good view on where I should be focusing my attention on.

 

Yeah, It always surprises me how many of the concepts I think I know, I don't understand them as well as I thought. Not to mention, when I am trying to move from 1 type of development to another.

 

Hey I never thought about those points. I have a bunch of offers now and then but always refuse to schedule an interview due to a fear of having to turn down the offer and having this feeling of making the interviewer lose his time. Have you ever had this feeling in any interview?

 

All the time. But, after being on the other side of the table, I have realised that good interviewers/companies dont feel bad. After all, they have to choose 1 from many good candidates. Here, its you choosing from multiple companies, which would hopefully be the case if you are actively looking. The only difference is that your current company is also in the mix.

You could also try what I do - I am upfront with the interviewer in the initial chat that I am happy where I am and will need something exceptional to move. Its upto them whether they continue or not. So far, everyone has continued with the process. But it takes the pressure of you. Personally. If someone decided to stop the process for this reason, it might not be the best place anyway.

 

There are a lot of interesting ideas here.

I did interviews for practice, too, but my conclusion is not that good: tech interviews are often random, and I'm not sure I learn a lot from them except that techies have very different point of views on many things, and often they'll search people who agree with them. The consequence: a mono-culture where the collective intelligence goes down.

On top of that, it takes time to do interviews and, for me, a LOT of energy.