Interviewing

What i learned from doing 100 interviews with graduates.

I spent about 100 hours talking with software engineering graduates who found it difficult to find jobs in the last 18 months

May 31, 2021
Last modified May 31, 2021

Introduction

Back in December 2020 and Jan 2021, I had some spare time. I noticed a trend online of graduates talking about how difficult it was to get an interview or even feedback on a job application. I put out a few posts on various social media sites with an offer to review resumes and do mock interviews. The response was more than I was expecting. I received over 100 responses.

The rest of this article covers the observations from these interactions. I will cover the following

  • Resumes
  • Screener Interviews

I will not be sharing any personal information unless I have specifically been allowed to share it. The vast majority of candidates work or are looking to work in the software industry.

Resumes

Keep it short. Nearly every resume I read was the standard word document or pdf. The length of each resume was inconsistent. The shortest was half a page. The longest was six pages. The best resumes I read were one page or less. The short length alone is not the reason why they were the best. Using simple language and minimising non-relevant content also made them stand out.

Use simple language.

The text in lots of CVs was dense. The sentences were longer than 20 words and full of three-letter acronyms, TLA. It makes it incredibly difficult for the hiring manager to absorb what you are communicating. When communicating what you know, less is more. The better resumes contained information in the first half of the first page that had the following characteristics.

  • What have you done?
  • What do you know?
  • What do you want to do? They tended to be three sentences and also were short.

Use links that contain content.

A link to a Github profile is good only if the profile has any content. Suppose you have a personal website that you linked to, brilliant. Ensure it’s not a blank template. In my opinion, If there is no content in your Github profile or website, the interviewer will learn little by clicking on them. It would be better not to include it on your resume.

Avoid hyperbole

If you make a statement like “An expert at X”, A hiring manager could ask you a difficult question on X. A failure to answer a difficult question can lead to a bias against you.

Avoid buzzword Bingo

Buzzword Bingo is Hyperboles cousin, adding that you know Java, C++, Assembly, Python, Javascript, Golang, Rust, Terraform, and graduating from university could lead to a situation where you are coming across that you are trying to beat the ATS system. It would be better to keep it to what you know, again less is better. If by chance you are in the 0.00001% of people who does possess this much experience. Please leave only the skills that appear in the job description of the job you are applying for.

Interviews

Nearly every interview process starts with a screener. The screener interview is a getting to know you interview. This (and every interview) goal is to see if you are a good fit and can communicate well. Communication means being able to answer questions well but also asking questions, having some questions ready to ask about the company or how the team works will create a dialogue for everyone.

Knowing something about what the company does is good. It provides a great conversation piece. The more specific things you know, the better. As an interviewer, having to describe what the company does to a candidate is saddening. And one of the reasons why interviewers get burned out.

Listen carefully to the question. Some interviewees answered a different question than what was asked. The brain probably interpreted the question they wanted to hear.

By Far, the best interview I had was with someone engaging. The candidate asked questions and, within the first five mins found out when was my birthday. We shared the same birthday. It is not easy to create that rapport instantly, but you can do it.

If you want to get help with creating this rapport, sign up to my newsletter or pick a time in my calendar

I do not charge. I intend to help people who are struggling with getting a job. The only thing that I ask of you is that in the future when you are in a position to help someone, you will.

In the next post, I will share the results of a questionnaire I asked people to fill out about the different aspects of getting a job.

Other posts

Next: What is it like to apply for a job as a graduate

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