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7 mistakes to avoid on your next tech job interview

March 31st, 2021
Learn from these 7 common mistakes candidates do in tech job interviews, and make yourself a more valuable developer.

You are a developer looking for a new professional challenge. You’ve heard about KWAN before (and how well people are treated here!) so you decided to fill in the recruitment form, and now you’re expecting one of our recruiters - we call them Talent Acquisition Specialists - to get in touch with you.

While you’re waiting for our phone call, we would like to share with you some tips to help you prepare for your upcoming tech job interview. These 7 points were carefully selected after hearing from our Talent Acquisition Specialists - so these are real stories - based on years of experience recruiting developers like you.

1. Not preparing the space of the interview

You’re going to be interviewed by video call - that's the times we are living in - directly from your workspace, in your room. You have about 15 minutes to prepare for it. So you put a nice shirt on, you find the e-mail with the meeting invitation, and… that’s it, right?

Well, although KWAN’s recruiters have only been doing remote interviews for a few months, they already have a few insights to share about remote interviews.

Make sure no one will disturb you

That includes people physically disturbing or phone calls.

Make sure there’s no one around to disturb you. So, before the interview starts, inform your family or flatmates you’ll be busy for the next one to two hours and ask them not to make noise.

It’s very distracting to be interviewing a candidate with someone else in the room cleaning, especially if they are using the vacuum cleaner, or if the candidate is in the living room just a few meters away from family members or friends who are talking or watching TV. Besides being hard for the recruiter to keep focused on the interview, it’s not very respectful.” - Rita Santos, KWAN Talent Acquisition Specialist

If you really have to answer a phone call, let the recruiter know beforehand

If you’re expecting an important phone call, and you already know about it at the beginning of the interview, inform the recruiter, and ask if it’s ok to answer your phone if it suddenly starts ringing.

phone

By doing this, the recruiter won’t be taken by surprise and so, they’ll be more keen on waiting while you answer the phone, because they are expecting it.

Make sure your room is tidy

Not tidying what shows up on the background of your camera, your bed, for instance, or your jammies left randomly over the nightstand lamp, passes across the message that you’re disorganized. And if you are disorganized with your bed, who’s to say you’re not with your code as well?

Make sure your camera is in front of you

If you work with two screens and your camera is not placed right in front of you, the recruiter will feel like you’re doing something else while answering their questions. Of course, eye contact is the desirable situation, but if you can’t move your camera to the top of the screen you’re looking at, then the best you can do is to let the recruiter know about it at the beginning of the interview.

We’ll leave you a bonus hint: Lighting! They don’t say “lights, camera action” in Hollywood for nothing. Light your face up! And don’t have a big window behind you. It’ll make your face disappear into darkness.

2. Not knowing anything about the company you’re applying for

“Hi! Thanks for applying to work with us at KWAN, first I’d like to know what do you know about our company”.

“It’s a company that recruits developers”.

The end.

Awkward silence.

If this is the only thing you know about KWAN - or any other company - it shows you didn’t do your homework, as there are so many channels from where you can collect information: our website, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc!

You can also hit the streets and ask around. Maybe some of your friends already know our street cred. 😎

No need to know the name of every technology we work with at KWAN. But knowing that KWAN was founded by a developer who was unhappy with the way developers were recruited and wanted to do it right - that will show the recruiter that you care enough about this job interview that you tried to learn something beforehand.

3. Not being able to explain what you do in your current job

“So what do you do in your current job?”

“I’m a developer.”

“But what do you do?”

“I develop. In Java.

You’re not “Bond, James Bond”, so you should elaborate.

james-bond

What sets you apart from other Java developers?

Here’s a possible answer:

I work under an architecture of microservices. I collaborate on the functional phase of the project, the architecture definition and I also get the requirements directly from the client. With whom I contact regularly. I have experience working with Scrum and CI/CD pipeline. Moreover, I’m the only backend developer on my team. I implement new features and I do evolutive maintenance.

4. Not mentioning you have experience working with databases

A lot of our clients ask for developers with experience working with databases. However, if not asked directly, most candidates don’t mention they have this kind of professional experience.

More than 50% of the developers I interview don’t mention they have experience working with databases - although it’s something our clients value a lot - perhaps if candidates knew how important this is, it would be the first thing they mention when I ask them about their professional experience” - Jorge Becho, KWAN Talent Acquisition Specialist

Having experience with databases shows you’re able to extract and organize information, and so you will be perceived as a more complete professional.

5. Presenting the company you are working for instead of your own experience at the company

“Can you tell me about your experience at the company you’re currently working at?”

“I work for company X, which is an American multinational and it is present in 16 countries. My project is composed of 40 people which allows the company to bring excellent wi-fi connection to remote users...”.

So far this candidate has said 0 about their work.

We already know about the company you work for (we did our homework!) at this point, what we really want to know is about you and what YOU do.

6. Talk negatively about your current company

It’s ok to say you don’t identify with some practices of the company you currently work for - but it doesn’t mean you should insult your boss or your colleagues, and complain about everything and anything your company does.

It doesn’t do any good for you and it’s awkward for the recruiter.

Plus, if you’re acting like this now, who can guarantee the recruiter you’re not going to do the same, in a few months, about the company you’re now applying for?

7. Not making any questions

It can be during the interview or in the end. Making at least one question (ideally 2 or 3) shows you’re interested in the company and in the job vacancy.

You don’t know what to ask? Rita Santos, KWAN Talent Acquisition Specialist, gives you some ideas.

Lots of candidates I interview simply give out answers, but don’t make any questions. And there are so many things you can ask about: how will it be my day to day if I get this job? Who will my teammates be? What’s their role? What's the most important skill valued by this position?” - Rita Santos, KWAN Talent Acquisition Specialist

What other questions can you make? 🤔

How about asking recruiters how did they come to KWAN? And what’s their favourite part about working here?

Not only you’re showing interest, but also confidence, without harming their impression of you.

Friendly recap

What you say in a job interview matters, but also how you look like, and your physical background. So make sure to save some time to tidy your room, to let your family or flatmates know about the time of the interview, and to check all the equipment you’ll need for it.

Do your homework: search about the company you’re applying for, look at your own experience and skills, and prepare your speech: how are you going to present yourself? What distinguishes you from other candidates?

Remember, you don’t need to sell the company you work for - you need to sell yourself and your own work (don’t forget to mention your database experience!).

Finally, don’t fall into the temptation of talking too negatively about your current company, instead, use that time to make questions to the recruiter.

We hope the large experience of our Talent Acquisition Specialists can help you improve your performance on your next job interview, and so increase your chances of being hired for that dreamy developer role.

Spoiler alert, you’ll find that job at KWAN! Don’t believe us? There’s only one way to find out.

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