I’ve heard people say they interview for practice or for fun. I am not one of those people. I am the opposite of those people. On top of being not one of those people, I am also a person who is incredibly satisfied with my job and life, except as an independent contractor my family and I pay out of pocket for medical insurance. And I have over $70,000 of medical bills sitting on my desk with more coming. So when someone from a notable company in tech reached out to me and encouraged me to apply to a DevRel position, and then when I talked to a friend in tech who encouraged me to apply for a senior DevRel position, I did. This is the first in a series of posts on what I’ve learned through this process.
As an early-career developer who gets maybe more DMs than most early-career devs because of what I’ve done with Virtual Coffee, I’ve had a number of people reach out and ask me to apply for jobs. Usually, I decline and recommend someone else I know. If you look at the job, and it’s not something that’s interesting, within your desired salary, or you find out more about the team and you don’t think you’d be a good fit, it’s ok to pass or to recommend someone else you think would be a good fit.
Since coming into tech, I’ve always said that my dream job is working with good people. And that’s 100% true for me. I have been working with good–actually amazing–people. I’ve also seen so many devs fall into really toxic work environments. So if I’m going to leave a situation I’m happy with, I’m going to do my research. For me this means learning about the people on the teams, the companies, and DMing people who I know in tech and asking them about the teams, companies, and/or positions. Through these DMs, I learned:
- Some tough questions to ask to gauge the strength of the teams and to avoid workplace toxicity;
- How to gauge the sincerity of responses;
- How current teams functioned within the organization and how that would impact the position;
- What the current team dynamics are;
- About the projects, processes, and structures the teams use.
Because I wasn’t actively looking for work, I came to the process with a privileged position. I could afford to ask questions that some might be afraid to ask initially. Some of the questions I asked prior to the interviews were:
- What’s the salary range?
- Could I continue organizing Virtual Coffee as part of the job?
- What are your current pain points?
- Is the schedule flexible?
- What does the health insurance like?
- Can we talk about the title?
Remember, you’re interviewing them as well. If you have values or standards that are important to you, it’s ok to be selective from the very beginning. In fact, it was the openness and honesty of the answers that made me feel comfortable going further in the process, which I’ll talk about in my next post, because these weren’t quick and simple processes.