A few notes about web developer’s interviews

Some unorganized tips from current me to last year’s me when I started to look for a job in Europe (I’m from Russia).

Preparation

  • Update your CV and put you LinkedIn profile in order.
  • Write down what you were doing at your last few jobs. Read it aloud several times before the interview if it isn’t in your native language (I didn’t do that but after the eighth or so interview I realized that I should have done it).
  • Look at the company site, find out what technologies they use (if possible); google their tech blog, employees’ blogs and twitters.
  • Inquire about salary range in the city where the company is located. It’d be the best to talk to someone who already lives there. Define an appropriate amount for you and be confident in it.

Think about the answers to the questions like:

  • Why do you want to work for the company?
  • Why do you want to leave your current position?
  • What is the most difficult task you ever encountered?
  • What is the most interesting task or project?
  • How would you describe a perfect team or work environment?

Cover letter

Most likely your cover letter is the first (and often the only) thing that your future employer will read about you. It should show that you (and why you) are a good fit for the position.

I usually read a vacancy and describe my experience with each requirement. If I don’t know something then I say so in my cover letter. If I have some related experience (for example they ask about Ruby on Rails but I have experience with Django) then I write about it.

Correspondence with IT HRs, and especially with developers, is usually quite informal. But it doesn’t mean that you can forget about grammar and politeness. And remember that your email will be read by developers and HRs: they all should be able to understand it.

Coding assignment

Treat coding assignments as a real and useful experience. It would be more useful for you, and at the same time your future employer will see that you’re not only able to stick together jQuery plugins but to write serious maintainable code.

I always try to take something for myself from each coding assignment: try out new tools and so on. Sometimes it significantly increases the time I spend on an assignment.

For example I learned React doing some coding assignments: first, second.

Interview

  • For Skype interviews: dress up, it could be a video call.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” — you can’t know everything. You can answer: “I don’t know exactly but it probably goes something like this”.

Be prepared to write code in all possible ways:

  • on a piece of paper;
  • on a whiteboard;
  • in Skype window (hi-tech version of a piece of paper);
  • by sharing your screen via Skype (or they will provide access to their computer);
  • in some online editor with synchronization.

For sure they will show you snippets of code on pieces of paper and ask the result of executing them. Or they will ask you to fix a mistake, or change code to get a different result.

What to read

But, please, don’t use all that new trickery you’ve learned in real code. We write code for other people and making your code more cowboyish won’t make them happy.

Links

  • Grammarly — find mistakes in your English texts.
  • Canned Emails — prewritten emails for any occasion.
  • Codewars — small tasks for programmers.

Attend an interview

I believe that attending interview is useful even if you don’t plan to change jobs. It allows you to look at your experience from another perspective, find out your weak spots, and understand what to improve to become a better developer.

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About me

I’m a frontend developer living in Berlin, Germany. I work at Here, and in my spare time I love making photos, writing, hanging out with my dogs and drinking lots of coffee.

Check out my projects, follow me on Twitter or ask me anything.