In our third installment of Bootcamper Job Hunting Tips (Part I and Part II), Shane Rose, Chief Technologist and Senior Director of Software Engineering and IT at The Regis Company, shares insights he’s picked up over years of interviewing junior developers and recent graduates from local engineering programs in the Denver area.
What are some common mistakes made by junior developers/recent grads in their job search these days? Have you noticed any trends?
“I interview a lot of interns from a local university. We have a close relationship with them. Though I can’t call these trends, they are things that I’ve noticed and tend to turn me away from a candidate.”
- Focusing on the big name companies: “Yes there can be more opportunity and openings at such a company, but everyone else is focused there too. Smaller companies are less well known and thus may be less sought after for entry level roles.”
- Not knowing what a company does: “One of the first questions I ask is, “what have you learned about Regis and what we do?”. There is plenty of info on the web and in written books about The Regis Company and I expect someone that is interested, regardless of level, to have researched what we do and how we do it.”
- During the Interview: “Talking too much or not enough. It’s a mix. Regardless of someone’s propensity to gab, they need to think about the situation and adjust their responses accordingly. Giving me short answers without any qualifying detail doesn’t help me to better understand what they can do and how. Giving me long winded answers, that tend to fall off point, will bore me into not listening and assuming they’ll do the same if hired.
- During Interview II: Talking negatively about another group or person. I’m often surprised by this during interviews. Folks seem too open to saying they had problems with another student, coworker, boss. This is actually ok, when the question is about a tough situation or similar. However, focusing on the problems of the other person versus the solution isn’t a good tactic.
- Being Overly Eager. It’s great to be excited about interviewing for a roll and meeting individuals from a company. It’s too much to push that relationship with multiple emails, and, in the case of an open house we conduct, follow the manager around telling him or her our great you would be for the role and all the really cool things you’ve done etc. Excitement, not stalking.
What would be some advice that you’d give a recent grad/junior developer so that they would quickly become a solid candidate that differentiates themselves from the bottleneck of junior talent flooding the marketplace?
- Practice interviewing: “A lot of what I mentioned above can be overcome with practice and input from others.”
- Understand the buzz words of the tech stack: “In most cases recruiters, company websites, etc identify their tech stack or key tools. Doing a little research ahead of time, even if you haven’t worked with the technology, will allow you to have some sort of opinion, comparison to things they’ve done, and at least say “yes, I’ve done some reading on it and learned about…”
- Understand how your different roles grew you or helped set your direction: “Too often folks new to the professional market don’t take into account the work they’ve already done. Classroom development work, classes related to working with groups of people, wait staff jobs, etc all have impact on who you are, how you commit to efforts, etc.”
- Be willing to take on “less glamorous” tasks/roles: “We hire many interns in the summers from school of mines. Some of them expect to be deep in the code base and helping expand our core platform right away and, when they get assigned to creating content, updating HTML pages, etc, they get a little frustrated. As a junior coder they’ll get opportunities to work across multiple solutions and learn from each, but they also have to put in the time on some of the less glamours work. Let the interviewer know that you see the value in doing a lot of different jobs to help release products.”