For a couple of weeks I had an honor to talk to various people in search for a possible position as a software engineer. Personally, I have a quite wide area of interests, however in job search market, this feature of the software engineer is not a good entry in your curriculum vitae .
I would like to start with people, who interviewed me. These were various kind of people and professions. From job search agencies (I like to call them people filtering institutions) to the directors of the companies. Obviously, the big companies hire the job search agencies to filter people out, and directors interview people only in small companies. There was also human resources and sometimes project managers in the interviews.
The people filtering agencies are the nicest people in the whole planet. They don’t understand any terms you are saying, but somehow You feel like they listen and You enjoy talking to them. Maybe, it’s because they were all woman and I have had no girlfriend in months, I don’t know. They did not ask any technical related stuff, they were just interest on how You do your work and what you like to do on your free time.
Going directly to the companies, the wide spectrum of interviewing people is displaced. From the managers of human resources to project managers. Wide area of people gives the problem of what to say. Managers are only interested in how much quality your work has while software engineers are interested with which platforms You have worked. In this kind of situation, one can even say some jokes or laugh from some stupid mistakes.
Tests of skills
One of the most obscure thing during the interviews is the technological tests. These things suppose to help company understand on how good Your are in terms of theoretical and practical situations. These things are always unpleasant. For example, writing manual SQL queries is always a pain and usually this kind of stuff is written by testing it. No PC around, just a peace of paper — a lot of stress goes in Your brain and big possibility, that it will go wrong.
I personally more into practical tasks. Some of the technical directors gives quite interesting tasks. For example, the code, which is encoded in basic hex and the task is to perform the profiling of the code. And the question of interest was why the program runs so slowly. Of course, the answer to this question after debugging was pretty obvious — sleep function makes the code slow, but still it was something new. Other tasks was basically to write some simple programs — subscription module or guest-book like application.
The only interesting test was given by a big-corporate-international place. They just need to know how fast You are able to learn new stuff. Of course, in current world, everything changes day by day (except PHP) and so they literally asked some technical stuff only in the second round, then the head of programming asked me about my interests and previous experiences.
Unusual questions deserves separate topic. Then You go to the interview, You are prepared with some basic answers to the standard and routine questions, like “How You imagine Yourself in 5 years?” or “The most interesting project so far?”. Of course, You get to answer them as a typing machine, nothing can go wrong. But there was couple of unusual ones:
- What other places You have applied? (should not this be a personal thing?)
- Are You comfortable to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning? (I’m an engineer, not a hippie)
- How You react, then the customer changes his mind on the last day of project shipment. (I’m an engineer, not a hippie)
With more like google-type of questions, I would feel more comfortable. These questions does not show any thinking signs from the participant, just very straight-forward and plain.
All in all, it was fun experience. I have never talked to so many people in same area of interest. Some was good, some was bad. The main advice from my point of view — do not rush things. Stay calm and logic through all the job search procedure. Scale everything the interviewer does and doesn’t say. Set up every position in the field of possibilities and only then make a move.
Happy job search adventure in Vilnius! (or Kaunas!)