Here at Arcweb, we interview a lot of developers. Usually we conduct these interviews for specific needs or job openings, but we also make an effort to meet with developers when there might not be a clear opportunity because at the end of the day, talent is talent and if we find the right person, they are worth pursuing. (Plus, steady interviewing is a great way to build a roster of potential subcontractors.) Over the years, we’ve gathered a handful of insights that can help developers put their best foot forward when it comes to interviewing. Here are a few…
This isn’t a blanket statement, but generally, software developers are a little more introverted than, say, salespeople or project managers. And overall, that’s totally fine. But when interviewing, an introverted software developer should make the extra effort to not be so. Why? Aside showing that they’re actually interested in the job, there’s a good chance that they’re being hired to join a team. And joining a team requires strong interpersonal communication skills—with other developers, with project managers and even sometimes with customers. So in the interview, make a concerted effort to showcase verbal and physical communication skills. Make solid eye contact. Shake hands. Address the interviewers by name at least once.
And remember: every communication matters. Whether it’s an email, phone call, or in-person conversation, take the time to communicate effectively and contextually.
Fit is a Two-Way Street
An interview should be a discussion to determine fit. And fit is a two-way street. Yes, the interviewing company is conducting the discussion to gauge how the interviewee will fit within the company, but the interviewee should be doing the same. Throughout the discussion, be evaluating whether or not the company fits you. And if you think about it, if you’ve passed the resume screen and the phone screen and are at the in-person interview stage, both parties should be evaluating culture fit more than anything else.
Show Your Work
Just as a designer brings to an interview a portfolio showcasing their work, developers should showcase the stuff they’ve coded. Bring along a laptop, a tablet or a phone to show your interviewers what you’ve done. There’s also the added value of highlighting the projects you’ve worked on outside of the actual work environment. That means personal skunkworks, hacks, websites, etc. Those are the things that prove your passion.
Look the Part Without Knowing the Part
Most software shops have a relaxed atmosphere, but a job candidate doesn’t know for certain what the vibe is of a given company. Coming in too casual sets a perception. On the flipside, too formal creates another.
So how’s an interviewee to tell whether or not they should err on the side of hoodie-and-jeans or suit-and-tie?
The answer is actually pretty simple: do some research. Look for images of company employees either on the company’s site or on LinkedIn. Check out the company’s Facebook page to see if there are any in-office photos. Better yet, try to identify the folks you’ll likely interview and see what they’re wearing. It’s not hard to get a sense for shop’s style.
Building a digital product?
From there, go one step up. If what you dig up shows team members in jeans and t-shirts, go with a button-down and jeans (guys) or a casual dress shirt and pants or skirt (girls). If everyone’s in more traditional business attire, consider a skirt suit (for ladies) or a suit sans tie (for guys)
Bottom line: It’s not hard to look professional and still fit in. (Oh, and you can always just ask.)
Stay tuned for a post on interview tips for project managers!