When you're going to job interviews, remember the one thing that matters the most:
- Your interviewer is a human being, and you're one too.
Build a damn human connection with them! That's what they'll retain from your interview.
I've been a Startup CTO for 8 years. And since 2017, I've been hiring and managing remote teams.
During this time:
- I've interviewed hundreds (thousands?) of candidates
- I've been interviewed dozens of times myself
- Recently I've had many DMs asking for my "interview tips"
In light of my experience, here's a key tip I recommend if you're going to interviews.
Speak To Stand Out, Not to Sound the Same
For most candidates, especially Engineers, the biggest challenge is that they face interviews as a transactional exchange of information.
They take the interviewer through their career in a very dull way:
- I studied at A
- Then worked at B
- Now I'm doing C
This is honestly boring.
Keep in the Mind the Impressive, Memorable, Relatable Format
This is a problem because of how competitive most roles are. Your interviewer will likely interview a handful of candidates each day.
You need to stand out!
If you want the role, you need your interviewer to remember you!
The best way to do it is by telling a story instead.
I usually use a format along the lines of:
"There was [big challenge], I did [key action], and it resulted in [success metrics]"
Example: "When we crossed 1M users the servers started crashing. I built an auto-scale cluster, and since then we grew to 10M users without issues"
Search for moments in your career that you can fit into this format, in a way that is:
- Impressive - Captures attention
- Memorable - They'll retain and share
- Relatable - Relates to the role and company's requirements
Speaking to Sound the Same vs Speaking To Stand Out
Some examples with dos and don'ts:
Boring: "I worked as a front-end engineer at company X."
Memorable: "I worked as a frontend engineer at company X, where I refactored the listings page. It started loading very slowly at some point which caused user churn, I implemented pagination and the issues stopped."
Boring: "I worked as a platform engineer at company Y."
Memorable: "I worked as a platform engineer at company Y. When we crossed 1M users the servers started crashing. I built an auto-scale cluster, and since then we grew to 10M users without issues."
Boring: "I was the first engineer at startup Z."
Memorable: "I was the first engineer at startup Z. The founders had sudden traction for a new use case, so I adapted the product to the new requirements and we onboarded the new clients within one week."
And so on and so forth.
- The company's names and tech frameworks in your CV will land you the interview. See them as SEO.
- But it's this type of human connection you get from telling a story that will make you stand out. Those increase your chances of being hired.
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