Interviewing in tech? Think Product.
Choosing the right career path for you is the job of a lifetime.
To me, the best way to take on this task is to go through many interviews, for different positions, in several industries.
I also made sure to talk to as many people as possible, understand their day-to-day jobs and their goals.
I finally chose to work in tech (never regretted it!), and throughout the years, I made the following observations:
- The tech ecosystem has accelerated for the last 5 years in France, with more French and international companies, incubators and schools emerging;
- To sustain this growth, all tech roles are absolutely crucial, from software development to marketing, sales analytics and product;
- Tons of smart people want to work in tech, but finding a way in can be hard, especially for people who haven’t received an academic training nor experience in these positions;
- Tech companies plan to hire but find it difficult to do so. According to Statista, more than 80% of the startups in France are willing to hire with permanent contracts in 2017. Despite this, more than 54% of them have difficulties finding the right profile. (source: Syntec)
Knowing this, how can a candidate maximizes his or her chances to successfully join the tech ecosystem?
I’ve come to the conclusion that, as a candidate, the most efficient approach to job hunting is to think product.
Product managers own the product in tech companies. They have the responsibility to test and iterate until they find the product/market fit and develop a successful product.
An efficient way to get a job at a tech company is to use a similar process, in order to find the right candidate/company fit.
Based on my experience, here are the main 4 steps I recommend to follow:
Study some business cases, learn as much as you can about the job, the company, the culture and the team.
Most of the candidates are far from prepared when they show up for an interview, whether they skipped crucial information about the company or did not fully understand its needs. You need to understand why they’re hiring and find a way to pitch yourself as the best solution to the problem they’re trying to solve.
Seek out information on the company, talk to people who work there, use simple tools such as LinkedIn or Glassdoor and develop your own opinion.
You might want to try applying to multiple companies, a few positions and even in 1 or 2 industries before being able to tell what fits you best. Interviewing is a game but you will probably only feel it that way if you play a lot.
As with any game, the best way to improve is to practice.
Besides getting a job, interviewing is also a valuable tool to know your worth on the job market and to expand your network. It’s not because you didn’t get nor accept that job that you didn’t meet interesting people, right?
Go to those interviews even if the job doesn’t 100% convince you at first. This will eventually help you to get the right one later.
Failure is part of any constructive experience and triggers feedback.
An easy win is satisfying but does not encourage self-reflection. Yet, even if you get to the next step, your performance was probably not 100% perfect. There is always room for improvement.
A failure will force you into this questioning process, help you do better next time. Being humble and learning from failure is a quality required of anyone who wants to work in tech, make sure that your application reflect that.
James Dyson made 5127 prototypes before launching his first product, it’s ok to fail several interviews!
When your product doesn’t go out as expected or it doesn’t come out at all, you’re not resigning from your job. So don’t give up!
Work, test, fail and repeat until you finally succeed. That’s how you grow, how you get better at what you do and finally how you get a clear understanding of your motivations, skills, the value you bring to a team.
French companies currently have average hiring-cycles of more than 32 days (source: Glassdoor), leaving you plenty of time to iterate within one application.
Try again, take notes and keep them until your pitch is sharp, it will get easier and easier.
Being organized, dedicated and tenacious are some of the required qualities to deliver a great product. Thinking product during your job hunt can help you improve your conversion rate and eventually lead to finding a great fit. Good luck to you!