The following is from frequent contributor Kosmo who has taken us on an extensive job search journey. That job hunt was successful, but in the last article, he added a new twist to the story.
In the last update of the series, our intrepid hero had started another job hunt and had an interview lined up. How did things turn out?
Due to the holidays, there was a two-week gap between the point where I was chosen for the interview and the time the interview occurred. That’s a long time to think – and overthink – about things.
The first thing I did was study up on some of the finer points of documents I create as part of my current job. In theory, these documents follow a rigid framework, with each point fully fleshed out. In practice, some portions of the document get significantly more attention than others. I needed to make sure I was prepared for questions on any portion of those documents.
It was a similar exercise regarding common practices in my job. I have a tendency to lean heavily on a couple of specific methods for eliciting software requirements, but I needed to make sure that I was prepared to answer questions about any of the methods that are commonly used.
Next, I spent time building out examples for the inevitable behavior questions. In the past year, I have been on interview panels about a dozen times. Being on the other side of the table gave me insight into which questions were likely to be asked – as well as which questions candidates were likely to struggle with. If a particular question created problems for many candidates, it was a question I needed to prepare for.
I cracked open Microsoft Words and started to write. For each behavior question, I wrote up a least a couple of examples, so that I could choose the one that fit the flow of the interview the best.
It’s critical to always have questions for the interviewers. They’ll almost always ask if you have questions. A response of “no” is generally taken as a sign of disinterest. You’ll want to make sure to have at least a few questions prepared. It’s possible that the interviewer will answer some of your questions during the interview, and you definitely can’t use a question that they’ve already provided an answer for.
My interview was in five parts. Four parts featured one interviewer and one featured four peers. That meant preparing five sets of questions. I spent more time in Word. When I was finished, I had at least three questions for each section.
You can – and should – add more questions as topics arise during the interview. But a lot of people get nervous during interviews, and it’s good to have a stock list of questions to start with.
I couldn’t spend two weeks preparing without going crazy. I prepared until I had reached a point of diminishing returns, and then I stopped. Relaxing was next on the agenda.
Christmas and New Year’s activities were confined to the home, due to COVID. We played board games, including a new one – Trekking the World. It’s a great game that I would recommend.
I also managed to find Quantum Leap on the internet. I had been searching for in on the streaming services for a while, to no avail. While it’s not on the pay services, it’s on the free NBC app. It has commercials, but that’s a small price to pay.
(Editor’s Note: I’ve had great luck with finding where a show is streaming with JustWatch.com. For example, here’s Quantum Leap, available to stream on Roku and NBC.)
Interview day finally arrived. Typically, this would be a half day on site, but due to COVID, it was virtual. It was on a platform I use every day (TEAMS), so I didn’t have to figure out a new interface. I could also decompress during breaks in the process. Overall, a pretty relaxing experience.
The interviews went pretty well. As always, there were a few questions that I didn’t handle perfectly, but I had a strong answer for most of the questions. Not surprisingly, the portion of the interview with my potential peers was the toughest, but that’s also the portion that I had spent the most preparation time.
The interview was on a Wednesday. The hiring manager said the expected to know something by the next week, or possibly even later that week. Like most people, I absolutely hate waiting.
The next two days passed very slowly. At 4 PM Friday, I resigned myself to waiting until at least Monday. At 5 PM, my phone range. We quickly reached an agreement on salary, and he agreed to the 60% work from home.
I knocked out the paperwork over the weekend, and a few days later I had passed the background check and drug screening.
As I’m writing this, I have one more day of work left at my old job. I’ve spent the last two weeks finishing up some work and transitioning the things that I’m not able to get done. I’m a firm believer in never burning bridges – you never know when you might want to cross them again.
I start the new chapter of my life on Monday. A brand new industry and a slightly different role. So much to learn, and I’m anxious to get started.