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Tech Interviews and Communication

Why communication is critical to a successful outcome...

I have just finished an interview as a contractor with a lovely bunch of fellow technologists, who ranged across many technology disciplines. Whilst we came from different technological backgrounds and practised in different areas of technology, what struck me was that shared love of technology. The MS Teams call gave me a chance to quickly assess the body language of the interviewers, and their tone. This gave context to their introduction as a starting point to assess my 'cultural fit' for the role I interviewed for. This positive report was in direct contrast to another interview I attended late last week where the interviewer got on looking frustrated. He asked a general question about my recent working past and instead of even pretending to look interested, he looked to his right off the camera until I apparently had finished boring him about my recent working past. Much to my relief, he called a halt to the interview saying I was not a good fit for their organization. It was the longest 15 minutes I ever spent in an interview with a highly caustic personality. I left the call agreeing with him on a singular point, I was not a good fit for their organisation based on my experience. 

So, two 1st round interview experiences within a few days of each other, one good, one bad. Is the bad one a successful outcome? Whilst it looked like a waste of time, the interview termination call made by the interviewer was consistent with my experience. After 10 minutes, I was ready to leave the call. Another 5 minutes and the interviewer showed me the door to a successful outcome, being the company was not for me. I have been guilty in times past of overlooking red flags around a good fit in interviews, even at one point going 8 rounds to join a company that turned out to be a disaster. With lessons learned, I would advise any engineer going to interviews the following:

  • Find out what the interview content is prior to the interview and if the interviewer(s) materially deviate from it, ask the interviewer about the deviation. If the answer is not satisfactory, withdraw from the selection process after the interview. 
  • The first 10 minutes of the interview is where you should be the most focused on proficient communication. Your goal in these opening minutes in particular is to listen and observe more than you speak. Remember to gauge your interviewer(s) responses to your inputs. Look for positive and negative body language.
  • If you come across a very bad case where an interviewer is displaying negative body language, do not let it phase you. I get nervous in interviews and overcoming this shortcoming has taught me many lessons about what is actually my problem and what is actually somebody else's problem. Have the confidence to carry on and never stop observing as you speak.
  • Preparation for a technical interview is only half the battle. Try to gain clarity around the first round of interviews into what team culture you looking to step into and assess if you are a good fit. If so, use the next technical round to recheck this as this good fit will make the difference in a successful outcome for your job.
  • If you come across someone interviewing that clearly demonstrates the opportunity is so far from a good fit you are wondering if you are on the same planet, do not 'call time' to the interview. Also, be mindful to not deliver some other unprofessional ending to the interview. Let the interviewer(s) do that if they wish to be unprofessional and move on with your professional integrity intact. 
  • If the role is too good to be true, there is some aspect that you have not explored. A well-presented use case for a project should always stand up to post-interview examination, especially if an agency recruiter is involved so work over the details to see what does not align with your knowledge in the area. If questions arise, jot them down for the recruiter to follow up with the client. Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.

I can't say all accept or decline decisions will be correct over the longer term. However, if the above points are borne in mind, you will have more good days than bad in the workplace.  Stay tuned for more on writing in this blog along with articles on other areas of interest in the infrastructure and DevOps arenas. To not miss out on any updates on my availability, tips on related areas or anything of interest to all, sign up for one of my newsletters in the footer of any page on Maolte. I look forward to us becoming pen pals!

Best Regards





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