Apologies again. While in the heat of interviewing and interview prep, daily blogging has not been as big a priority.
Three down – two to go
Quick recap: Two small start-ups (one with Dev Rel manager possibility), three large companies ($100 billion market cap and above).
I finished the two start-ups last week and one of the large companies yesterday. One of them had trouble scheduling one of the half-dozen or so meetings, but to be respectful of my time and schedule, made a decision to let that meeting go, meaning I finish with them today. The other big company finishes today as well. That means I’m all done with this batch a day ahead of schedule and I move to the “waiting for news” phase.
One of the startups that had finished last week contacted me Tuesday to clarify the schedule on when I needed offers to be in. That’s nice, because it means an offer is still on their mind, although it isn’t guaranteed. It could mean that they have time to finish with another candidate or two or time to chew over whether they want to raise their initial offer to be more competitive. But it at least means they had not decided against making an offer… yet.
How do I think I’m doing?
As above, at least one of the startups hasn’t decided against me yet. The rest…
When I was 18, after a hilarious episode of “The All New Dating Game” featuring one of my fraternity brothers, his slightly younger brother, and their shared best friend as the three bachelors, I decided to audition. I went down, did the audition, saw one of the casting people write “86” on my application, and went home feeling depressed. I thought that meant I’d been “eighty-sixed” (a term meaning cancelled/killed), so I was super surprised when they called a week later to arrange a taping date. Now that I’ve wound you up, it would be totally unfair not to share my appearance on “The All New Dating Game” from 1987. Spoiler… I won.
I’ve had interviews I thought I tanked come back with an offer and interviews I thought I nailed come back with a polite “thank you.” Plus, as enlightened and as technical as I am, I am superstitious about jinxing things. So I’ll wait until the offers (if any) are in before I talk about how good my read was.
That said, there has been one company where people in their interviewing advice said to get really good with one technical topic. It’s one I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around over the years, I gave it a quick review, didn’t feel strong with it, and blanked on it in the two interviews where it was discussed. In 24 years in tech, I’ve never discussed this topic except in interviews. In fact, the two interviews in which it surfaced during this round match the entire number of discussions I’ve had about it in the past 24 years. While I was terrible on specifics, I had some generalities handy, so I hope I was strong enough in other areas that it doesn’t kill me.
Speaking of confidentiality…
Yesterday, one of the interviewers who gave me a programming question to solve said he had looked at my blog, saw I was posting answers to programming questions, and asked me not to post his question.
Let me tell you what I told him. I consider the programming questions I’m asked in interviews to be like questions I’m asked on certification exams. I don’t share them. I might discuss the broad topics covered in interviews like Amazon’s leadership principles, but those are published and even Amazon recruiters will advise you to study them. In fact, they’re a big part of my behavioral interviewing prep, even for other companies, because it’s a good framework for selecting good stories about your career to have handy.
An important part of being in Dev Rel is building trust with your audience. In the case of interviews, my interviewers are my audience, so I’m careful what I say afterward. If I name people or specifics, I would not only be betraying the company or interviewer’s trust, I’d be sending signals to potential future employers that I’m not candidate material.
“But you have called out companies like Twilio or Toptal in blog or LinkedIn posts,” you say.
I have called them out for non-confidential parts of their interview process (Twilio) or their publicly available culture statement (Toptal) which I feel ask for too much or are actively harmful. I mean TopTal’s culture page has this statement:
If you admire the culture at places like Amazon, Tesla, Intel, and startups that push the limits of innovation while demanding extreme time and energy to become a success, then you will love working at Toptal.
Advocating for developers is not just my day job, it’s my passion. So when I see a company seeming to celebrate burn-out culture, I will call them out. It’s fucked up. And also, as a once and possibly future Amazonian (I have not ruled out going back), I think their description of Amazon’s culture being like that is a misrepresentation. In fact, in my early days at Amazon in the 90s, I literally saw Jeff Bezos step in to help an overwhelmed manager develop their management skills and achieve better balance rather than accept their resignation. That manager is still with Amazon to this day.
Delivering results is a meta-skill. It not only requires the skill to create and refine the end product, it requires the skill to manage your time and to know when to ask for help. That last one is one I have spent decades on and still sometimes feel I’ve got a ways to go. For a very long time I saw asking for help as an admission of failure or an imposition on others. There have been times in my career where I failed simply because of my unwillingness to ask for help (or even admit to myself I needed it). But in more recent years, I can also cite times where asking for help led to success and no one discounted the success because I got help. In fact, getting help in some instances helped us both shine. The struggle continues, but I’m getting better.
Wanna follow the search?
You can follow the search by bookmarking the Tech Career category, or if you have a feed reader, follow the Tech Career feed.