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Jason Shelley
Jason Shelley

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Developers Remember This Before Your Interview!

Interviewing can be very stressful. You may worry if you will make a good impression, or what type of test they will give you. But there are a few things to remember when you go to an interview.

The Employer’s Interview

Employers typically have a particular mindset when interviewing developers, “I am going to spend my money to pay you to render a service for me. So I want to make sure I am getting my money’s worth.” In other words, they want to make sure you are a worthwhile investment, or that you bring value to the company. Because many employers (not all) think like this, they typically use the interview process as a way to determine a developer’s value. You will meet with various people, answer questions both personal and technical, take coding challenges, and build an app. Some companies even have personality tests. A company has the right to have all these things in the interview. After all, it is their money.

But the exact opposite is true too! Developers should have a similar mindset when going to any interview. “I am going to spend my time rendering a service to you. I want to make sure my time is well spent and well compensated.” Here is why developers should think this way.

Time vs Money

Time is more valuable than money. You can have all the money in the world, but if you don’t have time to spend it or enjoy it with your loved ones, then the money is pointless.

As a developer, our time is valuable. We spend our time with our families, our friends, learning new skills, enjoying hobbies, and handling our responsibilities. Our time only becomes more valuable as we get older.

We don’t have the time to waste on pointless interviews. When you go to an interview, the employer is being interviewed just as much as you are. You need to make sure that the job will compensate you for your skills and that it will allow you to grow as a developer.

Employers are checking to see if we have the right skills for the job. Developers should check if the employer has the right environment for us to grow.

Thus, developers should interview the employer.

The Developer’s Interview

Developers should have a list of questions ready to ask the employer. Some examples are:

  1. How many developers are on the team?
  2. What is the personality of the team, are they fun and laid back or serious?
  3. What type of source control do you use?
  4. Do you have a code review process?
  5. Do you have peer programming?
  6. How do you encourage or help your developers to continue to grow?
  7. How do you help your developers have a healthy work-life balance?
  8. Walk me through a typical day at the office
  9. Can I see an example of user requirements?
  10. How many sprints do you cover in a quarter?
  11. Does the IT department have its own budget?
  12. How do you track bugs?

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions like these in an interview. You are investing your time in this company. Invest wisely!

New developers definitely have to learn this way of thinking. Just because you are new in the field doesn’t mean you have to accept any job. Find a job that will compensate you and will allow you to grow. If the job doesn’t meet these two criteria, do not waste your precious time.

Our time only becomes more valuable as we get older. We have to invest it wisely. Invest it in learning and improving yourself. Improve your programming skills. Improve your thinking ability. Improve your personality. These are skills that make us more valuable. Do not waste your time on a company with a toxic environment or an environment where you cannot learn and grow.

Signs of a Pointless Interview

If you see a job that lists every skill under the sun, beware this interview will most likely waste your time. If you see a job posting like the below for a front end position but it lists NON front end skills, it’s probably not worth your time.

What You Bring to the Team
Building APIs

BS in Computer Science or equivalent and 5 years of experience
Accredited Full Stack Web Certification and 6 years of experience
This is from a real job posting for a front end position. This company wants you to know DevOps?! And what is Full Stack Web Certification, isn’t this position for a front end developer? Is a full stack developer stronger than a front end developer? Not necessarily. A full stack developer could be stronger on the backend but suffer on the front end. They didn’t even list HTML and JavaScript (knowing React doesn’t mean you know JavaScript). Job descriptions like this give you a view into the company. A company like this doesn’t know what their developers do, or they expect too much out of their developers. Front end is front end, backend is backend. The job description should be clearer. If they want someone who knows both, they should ask for a full stack developer. Companies that do not have clear job postings are an indication of communication issues.

Going to an interview certainly can be stressful. But remembering that you can also interview the employer will help alleviate some of the stress. During your interview process make sure to see if the company can bring value to your career. If not, find a company that will. Invest in your future!

Top comments (3)

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy 🎖️

Be careful... incorrect job descriptions and weird requirements are often the fault of a clueless recruitment agency

kinjiru09 profile image
Jason Shelley

That’s right. But the company that is hiring has the responsibility to make sure the job description is correct and accurate.

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy 🎖️ • Edited

Yes, but often that also doesn't happen. I generally find the best thing to do is just to go for it, if the actual job sounds interesting. So many job descriptions say they require a degree... this is VERY rarely the case - I don't have any degree and it has never once been a barrier.

Also, far too many people put a bizarre emphasis on portfolio sites when giving advice on how to find work. These really aren't important at all, and rarely give any idea as to the candidate's true abilities. Over many, many interviews I've seen that an active GitLab/GitHub/whatever account with interesting personal projects/experiments is often the best indicator of the ability or potential ability of a candidate. Sure, these could be curated to make them look good - but that kind of thing is usually easy to spot