I found three interesting roles on LinkedIn last night and applied for them. No response yet, but it’s only halfwayish through the day on the West Coast as I write this.
One was a Developer Advocate role, another a Solutions Architect role, and the last a Sr. editorial role. Each had their own “ooh, that would be cool” element. Then this morning, I applied for another Dev Advocate role.
With this last company, I applied for another role there in the past 1-2 weeks. I saw an engineering manager from that company had checked out my LinkedIn profile, thought it might be for that role, went to check the status of my application and saw it had been declined on Monday. I found another interesting role, applied for it. Not holding out high hopes for it, though.
Calls this afternoon… One Hiring Manager make-up from yesterday’s two reschedules, one internal recruiter call because I applied, one internal recruiter call because they reached out.
Also hoping to work on some more interview prep today and start posting some of my answers to classic Algorithm and Data Structures questions to this site.
I’ve been going through the “interview question” library on freeCodeCamp and not only solving the problems, but writing up my process and reasoning in solving them. That includes when I passed their tests for the wrong reason, such as improving the hashing algorithm in a hash table implementation to avoid collisions rather than writing code to handle collisions.
I call that kind of tactic a “Kobayashi Maru” after the infamous unbeatable Starfleet test. Captain Kirk was the only one to ever beat it… because he reprogrammed it and changed the conditions to make a win possible. I’m not as hardcore a Trekker as some, but IIRC the Kobayashi Maru test was first mentioned in Star Trek II, then had a role in Spock’s disdain for Kirk in the J.J. Abrams reboot.
Decided to look it up and see if I’m right. Yup(ish). One thing the article says is that it has become a synonym for a no-win scenario. For me it’s always been synonymous with changing the underlying conditions. If you’re in someone else’s rigged game, what can you do to rig it in your favor? Obviously don’t do anything that would get you fired or arrested if your tampering was discovered.
Especially for technical roles, the prep in the forefront of many people’s minds is stuff like refreshing yourself on how to invert a binary tree. Yeah, that is part of it.
But there’s more. There are the behavioral questions. There are the storytelling questions. And you need to prep for those too.
For example, Amazon tests on the 14 leadership principles in the interviews. When I was preparing to interview there in 2016, I made up flash cards to memorize the principles and I wrote out a paragraph on a time in my career when I used each one. I also have flash cards for other common questions like where I see myself in 5 years, how I’ve dealt with a difficult person, etc. I was also an interviewer at Amazon, so I’ve been on both sides.
I try not to memorize them verbatim, because if they sound too rehearsed, it gives away the game. But I’m trying to have the 14 principles plus another 14 common behavioral questions ready.
That usually covers almost every interview question, because most other questions are just variations on them or exploring the same concept from a slightly different angle. It also keeps me from hemming and hawing during the interview. Nothing looks less prepared than racking your brain for an example. That also means rehearsing multiple ways to pause and seem like I’m thinking about my answer so I don’t give an answer too quickly and don’t have a single “tell” that I’m making a show of pausing (see “sound[ing] too rehearsed”).
Interviewing is like poker. You know the strength of your hand, you’re trying to figure out the strength of theirs, and you’re trying to spot tells without showing any.
Before I got into tech, I was in sales. I learned about “buy signals.” These were ways people acted and/or talked that told you it was time to close the sale. As a interviewee, I watch for buy signals. One big one is where they start talking about you in the role instead of hypothetically in the role. If they’re seeing you in the role, they’ll forget to phrase things in more hypothetical terms.
The caveat is the closer. A closer will give buy signals like that on purpose. It’s a subliminal tactic to get you thinking about yourself in the role as if it’s going to happen. That way, if/when they make an offer, you’ve already seen yourself in the role and you’re more likely to accept.
Meanwhile, as an interviewer (and from watching my fellow salespeople), I learned tells from the other side. For example, when I worked in the TV department at a major electronics retailer, one of my fellow salespeople had a fallback phrase… “Screamin’ resolution.” That was what we noticed he did when he wasn’t studied up on the product literature for the model and couldn’t give anymore information than was on the shelf card.
If you keep using buzzwords to get around details, or you keep coming back to the same surface-level points when the interviewer is trying to get you to go deeper on the details, those are tells.
From the boards…
There were 10 CareerBuilder emails as of 11:30. One was a “direct hire” that was worth looking at, but wasn’t a good enough fit. Five were Java developer roles. Let’s face it, if you’re interested in being the developer equivalent of a traveling nurse, Java is the skill that will do it for you.
Monster had only 8 contacts. Three were Java Developer roles, two were for the same role where the JD had a hard requirement for prior job titles I haven’t had. It even said “while roles as a [list of roles with some match to my resume] may seem relevant, we’re looking for someone who has additional skills.”
Feels like many of these agencies have a web scraper for open contracts where they can act as intermediary, the web scraper feeds the roles into a poorly-trained AI that extracts known keywords and titles from the JD, does a search of their resume database (possibly also screen-scraped from Monster and CB), composes a form letter, randomly attaches one of their call-center employee’s contact info to it, and mails it out.
That said, the check-cashing and product-forwarding scams haven’t hit my mail or spam boxes yet. And aside from insurance sales and bus driving, the completely WTF contacts have been a lot lower than the last time I chummed the CB/Monster waters.
I had a recruiter appointment at 1:15. I was 1 minute late, maybe 90 seconds. I entered the video chat just in time to see them log out. What? Seriously? The number of times I’ve waited for someone to join a Zoom/Google/Chime call… You just mute your mic, turn off your camera, but leave the speakers on while you do other work. When they log in and greet you, turn everything back on.
Bailing in under 2 minutes? Wow.