Welcome to episode 205 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss previous episodes on job interviews, the goal of an interview and some types of interviews like HR screening and first call with a hiring manager.
Original Recording Date: 12-18-2022
Topics – A Focus on Interviews, Your Goal When Asked To Interview, Types of Interviews – HR Screening, Initial Call with the Hiring Manager
1:37 – A Focus on Interviews
- Today we’re talking about job interviews. This is the third episode in our series on the fundamentals of career progression. This episode was recorded during a time with news of company layoffs, and it is still an incredibly hot job market.
- In Episode 203 we talked about resumes, their structure, how to showcase your accomplishments, and how you can keep them current.
- In Episode 204 we talked about what type of reflection needs to be done as before searching for jobs, places and methods to search for jobs, research needed for each job listing, applying for jobs, and ways you can let jobs come to you.
- This episode presupposes that you have applied for a job or been approached to apply for a position and are now either being contacted for a first interview or are currently going through the interview process.
- For previous episodes focusing on interviews, check out:
- Episode 2 – Different Types of Phone Interviews
- Episode 9 – Blowing an Interview and Dressing for an Interview
- This episode contains Nick’s favorite John White rant ever.
- Episode 11 – Questions to Ask in an Interview
- Episode 15 – Interview Myths
- Episode 16 – Reasons Not to Pursue a Career Opportunity Part 1/2 Before Applying
- Episode 17 – Reasons Not to Pursue a Career Opportunity Part 2/2 During Interviews and After the Offer
- Episode 53 through Episode 57 – Unexpected Career Opportunities Series
- Episode 66 and Episode 67 detail John’s move to Google Cloud and touch on the interview processes involved.
- As of Episode 200, Episode 66 was the most downloaded Nerd Journey episode of all time!
- Episode 81 – The Joy of Interviewing with Manny Sidhu (A Part 2 of 2)
- Episode 84 – Management Interviews and Transitions with Brad Pinkston (a Part 2 of 2)
- Episode 122 – Storytelling in Interviews with Brianna Blacet (a Part 2 of 2)
- Episode 192 – Mindfulness in Interviews with Brett Hill (a Part 2 of 2)
- To this point we lacked a central repository for discussions on interviews so listeners can dig in further on the topic in other episodes. Should we do another more recent roundup on the topic of interviewing, we will update show notes in this episode and point you there.
- Today’s structure will focus on discussing the philosophy behind the interview process – the goal when you are asked to interview / what your goal should be, different types of interviews and what to prepare for, and what to do after the interview process is over and preparations you should make.
7:31 – Your Goal When Asked To Interview
- Warning – people often overcomplicate and overthink this!
- Your goal should be twofold
- Overall the long-term goal when going through the process is to get to an offer
- The short term goal is to make it to the next round of interviews (i.e. convince the interviewer to pass you on to the next round)
- As you go through the process, you want to present the version of yourself that is tuned to the problems the organization at which you are interviewing is trying to solve by making a hire.
- The interview process is a chance to evaluate the company. Do you actually want to work for this company, work on this team, or work for this manager?
- Nick has heard of an interesting approach to the interview process that may help you.
- Play to win, but if you lose, you have made a number of great personal connections along the way.
- John makes it a point when interviewing at a company to keep track of the people he’s talking to so he can connect with them on LinkedIn. Generally he likes to connect with the people on LinkedIn and thank them for their time during the process.
- Even if you do not get the job offer, you are going to learn something by going through the interview process.
- One of the articles we have previously reviewed is – Here’s the #1 way people blow a job interview (Moneyish). Despite the clickbait like title, this article covers multiple ways people blow job interviews, such as…
- Arriving late to an interview (the number one way)
- Showing a lack of preparation
- Bad mouthing a former boss
- Bad mouthing a former company
- Grammar or spelling mistakes on a cover letter
- Poor grammar in an interview
- Having unrealistic compensation requirements
- Being underqualified
- Answering questions incorrectly
- Many of the points listed from the article above highlight an inability to communicate effectively.
- Badmouthing is bad taste. It is always more effective to be graceful.
- If pressed to give more detail about why you chose to leave a company is to be positive and focus on your needs. Here’s an example John gave:
- "One of the things I have learned about myself is that I need X to feel safe and Y to succeed." You can stop there or add that the need was not being met in other environments.
- In regard to communication, Nick is reminded of an episode with Scott Lowe (Episode 152) where we discuss writing as a way to make you a better communicator.
- So many guests have mentioned writing as something they want to do well and something they practice to improve their communication.
- John mentions effective communication is a practice and a process. You will never achieve perfection, but you can bias yourself toward success by doing it over and over again (and have people check it for you).
- Ask others for constructive feedback on a presentation you’re developing, something you are writing, etc. to see if it is clearly communicating what you want (i.e. your goals, etc.). Then continue to work on it.
- When you reach a higher stakes situation like an interview, you can rely on this practice and experience to help you (i.e. might not have to think so much about it in the situation).
- From a preparation standpoint, Nick takes that to mean prepare some things you would like to know about the person interviewing you.
- You need to think about these in advance because you likely will not be able to think of everything on the spot. Make some notes in advance.
- There will be information you want to extract from an interviewer about the organization, the team, the manager, company culture, how employees are treated, the organization’s goals, whether all of this aligns with your goals and values, etc.
- Don’t forget to go back and review your resume and the job listing before going into an interview. You need to know each of them well.
- Make sure you’re reviewing the version of the resume you submitted for the company in question. This may mean you need to have different stories ready for interviewers compared to a different resume submission / job application.
- When you answer questions during an interview you can then point back to experiences listed on your resume.
- Another article we’ve referenced is 5 Myths About Interviews You’ll Want to Stop Believing from the Washington Post. The Washington Post has a good jobs and careers section that John likes to read regularly. The myths discussed in the article are as follows:
- Your Interviewer Is Completely Prepared
- Interview Questions Have Correct and Incorrect Answers
- Let the Interviewer Ask All the Questions
- The Most Qualified Candidate Gets The Job Every Time
- Thank You Notes Are No Longer Required
- Nick advises the goal is not to just send a thank you note to send it. You need to actually mean it and appreciate the time someone invested in speaking to you.
- Worried about how to dress? Just ask the Recruiter during a phone screen.
16:33 – Types of Interviews
- HR Screening
- People don’t often realize this is an interview.
- Many companies have recruiter roles (possibly inside a human resources or people operations department of an organization), and the people working in these roles work to screen a large list of candidates and qualify them in or out of the pool of candidates that need to be passed along further into the hiring process.
- This person is going to screen you on experience and appropriateness for the job, skills you have, seniority level, etc.
- On a screening call, be able to speak to skills and experience that demonstrate your seniority level with stories from your resume such as the scale of projects you’ve worked, how those experiences relate to desired skills from the job listing, etc.
- Usually the requirements in a job listing are in the order of importance to the employer (first in the list is most important, etc.). With a limited amount of time, you probably want to be prepared to address the items from top to bottom.
- This is also a good time to ask clarifying questions about the job listing if something is unclear. For example, what does 20% travel mean to this organization? Is that traveling every Friday, being gone every 5th week, etc.?
- Many people have questions about addressing salary.
- John says his bias here is that he feels fairly secure in his ability to find a new position should his be unexpectedly terminated or he needed to quit. As a result John feels comfortable stating his salary requirements up front.
- John thinks it is very fair to share the minimum salary you would need to consider changing jobs or joining this new organization. You can share this without the fear that the organization thinks this is the maximum amount a company would ever need to offer you.
- If you say something like, "I really can’t change for less than $100,000" it does not mean all a company needs to do is to offer you $100,000 to make the change. You’re saying that you can’t really even consider anything less than $100,000. If a company cannot get to at least that threshold, they may need to look at other candidates.
- You don’t want to find out at the end of the process (i.e. getting the offer) that the position does not meet your minimum salary requirements because it has wasted your time as well as that of others.
- Nick says there is nothing wrong with asking a recruiter about the pay range to expect for the position to ensure no one’s time is wasted.
- Be sure to check out the Real Job Talk podcast as they may have episodes on this specific topic. They each have experience in recruitment and would be considered a specialized resource.
- Be prepared to cover your resume, job requirements, the day-to-day work, and how you would approach it (with stories ready). You’re trying to figure out if this is something you want and trying to get to the next step.
- There are some different scenarios in which the recruiter is working with the company looking for somoene to hire.
- Internal recruiting resource (employed by the company wanting to make a hire) – probably has a bonus structure based on successful placements but may not be leveraged as much as contract recruiters
- Contract recruiter – not a full time employee of the company (just a contractor),likely a base salary given to this person with variable compensation dependent upon successful candidate placements
- 3rd party external recruiting company – seeks to provide the organization with qualified candidates and makes a percentage of the candidate’s salary as compensation, likely not compensated until a candidate is successfully placed (hired)
- Working with a 3rd party recruitment service may indicate a company is not large enough to merit an in-house resource for recruitment (whether internal full time employee or contractor). It could be a company in startup mode, for example.
- Another episode to check out and reference would be Episode 174 with Dominique Top. She was a recruiter for DevOps roles at one point.
25:12 – Initial Call with the Hiring Manager
You might go straight to this call depending on the company or may get passed on to the hiring manager after a screening call with a recruiter.
Make sure you prepare!
- Know the job listing.
- Have a story you can tell about each potential requirement or what the daily activities are.
- We encourage saving a copy of the job listing. If the listing has already disappeared and you do not have it, you may want to try to find a similar job listing.
- Make sure you have good answers for some of the top interview questions in your job are. These are more generic questions:
- How would you address conflicting time requirements?
- How would you handle conflicting ideas on how to address a technical issue?
- How would you address a conflict in work style between you and a colleague?
- What is leading you to consider changing jobs?
- Think about some of the things that are specific to your role and how these questions might be tailored to fit that role.
- If you were interviewing for a sales engineering role, for example, the question about conflicting time requirements might be something about how you would handle supporting two different salespeople who schedule you to help them at the same time on the same day. For an IT operations position the question may be about how to decide which department meeting to join when you have a scheduling conflict.
Think also about questions you might need answered during this process. Companies need to see that you are also evaluating them. Check out [10 (More) Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview to Stand Out](https://jobs.washingtonpost.com/article/10-more-questions-to-ask-at-the-end-of-an-interview-to-stand-out/
- Nick’s favorite question in the article is "what do you like about working here?"
- Nick likes asking recruiters a form of this question (assuming they are internal employees of the company doing the hiring). "What made you want to work for this company?" Sometimes the answers come with really interesting stories.
- Nick suggests asking hiring managers what made them want to go into people leadership.
- Ask the hiring manager what a typical 1-1 would be like, the types of things that would be discussed during a 1-1, the things they would want to know during a 1-1, how frequent 1-1s are, what team meetings are like, etc.
- These are the types of questions indicate you are experienced and want to know if this person is the type of manager you would want to work for, if the organization is a place you could see yourself working, etc.
- You might also want to ask about career conversations.
- What percentage of the 1-1s would be dedicated to career advancement / me getting better at the role or progressing within the organization?
- Is there a technical career path available if my next step is not going to be people leadership?"
- John likes these questions:
- What qualities would a person need to succeed in this position?
- Can you give me an example of what I would be working on if I started tomorrow?
- What would I need to be doing 6-12 months from now for you to consider me a successful hire? What does success for me look like 6-12 months down the road?
- Questions that speak to stability, growth, dynamism
- How often do you expect the responsibilities of this position to change?
- What challenges are you facing as a company or division right now?
- Do you expect to make additional hires in the next few months?
- If 70% the team responsibilities turn over ever 6 months, maybe that’s not fine.
- If you’re interviewing at a hypergrowth startup, for example, it could be a new company every quarter. Go back and listen to Episode 166 and Episode 167 with Andrew Miller for more on this.
The first call after speaking with a recruiter / having the initial screen is not always with a hiring manager. Tune in next week for more details!
Next week we will complete the discussion on types of technical interviews and talk about what you should be looking at after the interview process is over in terms of next actions and how you’re treated.
Contact us if you need help on the journey, and be sure to check out the Nerd Journey Podcast Knowledge Graph.
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