This article is a collection of my free thoughts. On the Recruitment and Inverview process. My goal here is not to give you a guide on how to get hired. I want to share with you what happens in parts of the recruitment process which you don’t see. At least the parts that I am aware of. So you have better understating how it works and based on that information, you can choose how to prepare. I will have some of my suggestion that can improve your chances, but those are mostly base my subjective opinions; it is up to you to decide if they will work in your situation.
Why I want to talk on the subject of recruitment?
I am doing technical interviews for five years now, more than half of my IT career. I have been doing it for five companies. I was doing a technical interview for jobs like Testers, Automation Testers, and even Developers. I have also been on countless interviews as Interviewee. I had a lot of successful interviews, but I had, and I still have a lot of rejections. So I had a look at the different interview process, granted I know only of the parts I participated in but its still a lot of info.
But there is something that I, DragonQA and many others have noticed: it seems that all the interviews are based on the same framework, the details are different. But the general overview is similar. So chances are a lot what I write here will hold for a long time.
Enough Introduction Time to start!
You have to be lucky!
There is no way to sugarcoat it:
A lot that depends on your luck! Especially when trying to get your first job or any job at a junior level.
What do I mean by luck? I am using word luck in the sense that it is beyond your control. Even doing your best, a lot will come to variables that you can’t control. Or at least you can’t control directly.This is the consequence of the process that is mostly human-driven. We are faulty machines we make mistakes, and we have our biases.
One of the reason for having the recruitment process it to mitigate human mistakes, mind you „mitigate” – the only way to fix it is to eliminate human from the process. And that brings a lot of other problems.
What do I mean by “humans are faulty”?
There was research showing that level of tiredness in Judges in American trails had a massive effect on their empathy – later in the day, there were giving much stricter sentences for the same crimes. So if you had your hearing in the morning, you would get away with a more favourable result.
Similar it is here in recruitment, it depends who and when will look at your CV, in the same company using the same guidelines one person may reject your CV, and others may say it is okay.
There is a lot of reason for that:
- One may be more strict with the written down requirements; others may be more lenient.
- The before mentioned mood.
- And a lot of others.
But don’t make a mistake assuming that a whiny, selfish people are checking your Resume. Mostly we are aware of our biases and so does the company – that why a lot of companies wants more than one person looking at your CV.
Another aspect that I count as luck it the timing. Both timings: on your CV and others CVs affects.
On all this above you have very little control – that why I refer to it as luck – you can do a lot to help yourself, but you never eliminate this randomness.
What do I mean as timing?
Every company wants to hire the best – but unless it is ongoing always open hunt for talent. They can’t allow themselves to be nitpicky. It is more a search for „As best as they can get”
Why? Usually, the company is looking for someone cause they need him or they know they will need someone to fill gaps soon (maybe new project, or someone is leaving the company). So what that means?
Time constraints. You can’t hunt forever.
There is another constraint – money – Recruitment is not cheap.
- Recruiters aren’t cheap.
- Same for The technical interviewers, usually they are standard employees how instead of working on the project are doing sth else – that is money loss for the company. Don’t think it is just an hour or two for your interview – they need to prepare, and then report their opinions – depending on company my engagement per candidate was between 2 to 4 hours.
- They have to answer to candidates. We are aware that if you are at our interview, you probably are talking to others too. So if we stale for too long, you may be out of the market.
Thus quite often when we have the right candidate in front of us, we will take him/her instead of waiting for someone better.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
So this is basically a tradeoff – trying to find a balance between different factors.
Again this is something I consider luck because this is all also outside of your control, you may be our best candidate – but your CV came a moment when we are after a round of interview. And we have right enough candidate. OR YOU may be that good enough candidate, that get offer cause we won’t risk it.
Enough about luck lets talk recruitment process!
There are a few stages before an offer is published, and we start looking for someone. But I don’t have much insight into them so we will begin with the first one I take part in:
HR spread the word, put out the offers and started hunting for candidates. Soon enough CVs will come into the system.
Depend on the role there is a different amount of CV coming, but usually, there is a lot of them, let us say at least 1-3 a day. So we need to select if some look interesting. And Here is a point where you can shine!
- Read job offer and make sure that all things in your CV that relate to the position are easily visible.
- Seriously the ease of finding most crucial info you don’t know how important it is. I have rejected a few CVs in past cause I couldn’t understand what going on. Remember, at some point someone technical is taking a look at your CV, and they are doing it between other tasks -they don’t have time to waste on hard to comprehend CV.
- An excellent combination of both above points is making tailor-made CV for each offer you are interested in. It cost a lot of time but will give you the best effects.
- Put your work history, not only the company name but also what was the project and your responsibilities. – at this stage is mostly to prove you have a skill you say, but later it will be necessary at the interview.
- Speaking of history putting just The year of starting work and finishing is not enough put month too.
The above suggestions are universal, should work in most recruitment processes. The list below is subjective. Those are the points vital to me. They may not work on other recruiters.
- I don’t care how many „stars”/points/level you have in different skill if I don’t see any proof of you using them either in your experience or in other materials provided.
- If you put a link to GitHub (or other places) – I will go there, but make sure each project has readme that says what it is and how much code is yours, or if it is based on some book/tutorial.
- If you are linking to some website, you made. Make sure it works. A 404 or worse crash after few clicks makes a bad first impression.
- If you have no experience show me you care for the craft, tell me what you are doing to learn. And I mean not courses like „selenium in a week” those are fine, but I see a lot of them in CVs. I am more interested in what you regularly do, so for example „I am going on meetups xxx”, „I am following blogs xxx”, „I am planning an early access game, and I am sending bugs report to creators – [link to bug]”, „I am testing this open source project [link].”
- Give someone your CV to check – I am dyslexic I don’t care for typos but if your CV will be hard to understand the complex due layout or some other reason There is a huge chance I will give you negative mark mostly because I don’t understand it.
So when CVs are checked we know who we want to invite. Recruiter will start calling people. Some companies only contact people they want to invite, others will contact rejected with information that they didn’t make it. – In the case, you were rejected remember you can always send email /call and ask for some feedback. Okay, now we start the fun part here each company does it differently.
Usually when the contact you are in one of three cases:
- Either to ask you some question and invite for an interview.
- They need you to clarify some things cause they weren’t clear in your CV.
- To give you some task to do. For example, a program to write.
Just so you aware at this point your interview has already started, this call in some cases may end your participation.
What do I mean?
I have once nearly lost my chance at job cause I was „exhausting to talk to”. I won’t go into detail, let’s say me and Recruiter didn’t gel, we both should have acted differently, but in the end, I was the one looking for a job
I think it is rare to fail at this stage, but you may give a negative impression making the next steps more difficult.
Sooner or later we come to the actual interview either on skype or face to face.
First, I will talk about a few ways I failed or nearly failed the interview at different companies:
- I came in with the newspaper. Apparently, that meant I can’t be treated seriously (it was high traffic in the city, so I arrived an hour before, and I was sitting in the coffee shop next to company reading the newspaper – it didn’t occur to me to throw it away)
- My behavior was interpreted as being Arrogant – this one is guesswork for me. Cause when I asked for examples I didn’t get anything specific to work with. I think I was a little too relaxed and direct in communication.
- I came in shorts and sandals – This one I will defend with my life, it was the hottest day of my whole stay in Ireland.
Why do I talk about it?
Cause who you are matters!
They have to answer not only the question – Does he/she has the skill we need?
Would we like to work with him/her?
Would I like to have him/her around while meeting with our customer or I will be afraid she/he does something disrespectful?
I won’t write a lot about the interview too much you find a lot of example questions on the net. Few small hinths:
- Especially if you are junior take time and refresh some general knowledge about testing, programming and Agile.
- For example, do you have to explain how X work grabs a marker and ask if you can use a whiteboard.
- Are you asked to find bugs on a web page? Open notepad or sth else and take notes as you do it.
- Think a loud – this is important you don’t have to give full answer if you will ponder problem aloud we will now more about you – and usually it is better for you. QI had nice story about it.
- Also, do your research, have some questions of your own, both about the company and how the testing there works. It shows you care and took your time to prepare.
Okay, I passed interview what next?
Some companies have a trail day, so you have work with them onsite for one day. Other may have different stages.
For example, one company I work for Wanted me to meet CTO and leading architect so they could check if they would like me as a person.
If you went for an interview, don’t let them say sorry we need someone else sth ask them for detailed feedback. You invested your time so that they could do at least that much for you.
Well, the next step is an offer, and here I will tell you something – negotiate.
If they tell you they offer you x say you want x+10% probably, it will end with you getting x+~5%, but you will get something :
I will tell you just be cautious, at this stage both sites one to finalize the deal but read your contract and make sure you feel safe with it. Take your time to read and understand document you signs.
That was a long article to write, but I hope it will help you to have a better understanding of what going on on the other side of the recruitment.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.Sun Tzu – Art of War
I can’t help you with knowing yourself, but I hope I helped you with knowing „The enemy.” In the whole process, there is a lot that is outside your control that why I say there is a lot of luck in the process.
But you can help that luck! Some time ago, I did a review of the book Standout – it may help you. IT is addressed to the UK market, but most of it is universal.
So I can say only one thing in the end:
Huge thank you to Kasia H – for proofreading this article, Her expertise as domain expert was very valuable. Plus she is a blast to work with!