Do’s and Don’ts of Getting a Job Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, over the course of interviewing and hiring developers for the past decade, I’ve accumulated some recommendations. And as a professor and guest lecturer, I’m frequently asked for tips. So I’ve outlined them here. This post covers the initial phone screen through the in person interviews.

Don’t try to ask a million questions on the initial phone screen. If it’s a good fit, (and the company has a good interview process) there will be more than enough time to ask your questions later on in the interview process.

Do you have a couple questions prepared. I recommend staying high level about the company and the role on the initial call(s)

Do ask about what the interview process entails if they don’t come out and tell you so that you can be prepared

Do announce yourself when receiving phone screen calls, as in “Hello, this is Howie” in order to let the caller know they have reached the right person.

Do situate yourself in quiet place with good service for phone interviews.

Do bring copies or your resume to interviews. I know it may seem a little old school, but it shows professionalism and it leaves the interviewers with a little physical reminder of you, which is never a bad thing. BONUS POINTS for nice paper!

Don’t wear a suit (necessarily).

Do research or even ask about the office dress code. A good rule of thumb is dress like your future bosses boss.

Do show up for the interview on time.

Don’t show up excessively early. Anything more than 10 or 15 minutes early and you should probably just wait outside. And certainly don’t show up late.

Do call and let them know if being late is unavoidable.

Do ask the right questions of the right people.

Don’t ask a manager what the typical day for an individual contributor is. Hopefully you’ll be given an opportunity to speak with someone with a similar role as the one you’re applying for and you can ask that person.

Don’t ask the CEO about benefits (except of course if the CEO handles HR matters like that which can be the case at small companies.)

Do ask the CEO about the history and future vision for the company.

Don’t ramble or disclose excessive personal details during an interview.

Do answer questions directly and succinctly.

Don’t try to your BS your way through interview questions.

Do admit if you don’t know the answer to something. It shows humility.

Do offer to find out the answers to questions you don’t know, which brings me to one of my most important points…

DO FOLLOW UP. After an interview, email your interviewers thanking them for their time and answering any of the questions you’d said you follow up on. BONUS POINTS if you mention a specific thing you learned about the company that particularly interests you.

Do interview the company while they’re interviewing you. It should be a two-way street. I tell everyone, you rarely regret not taking a job. But take the wrong job and not only will you regret itfor a while but so will your employer.

Don’t be distracted by cool offices and perks. The office should of course be conducive to the work at hand, but all that stuff eventually recedes into the background and while it may get you in the door what will keep you at a job is ultimately the people and the work; meaningful work with opportunities for autonomy and mastery.