No one likes rejection. It’s probably the most exasperating part of the whole job search. You create the resume. You compose the cover letter. You pass the phone calls. You take a whole day off for your on-site. And then when all is said and done, you get the big “No Thanks.” It happens to everyone at some point their career. Even this guy. But the best candidates that come through my office don’t let their rejections get the best of them. They learn from their past experiences, and they try to improve with every at-bat.
Here is a plan to tackle your negative feedback and turn that next interview into an offer:
If you’re given feedback over the phone, take notes. You’ll need them for the next steps.
It’s also important to note: If you ask someone for feedback, they’re doing you a favor by giving you their time and attention. Don’t repay the favor by arguing with them. Instead, thank them and ask questions. You can always decide later, after steps 2 and 3, whether you want to incorporate their feedback.
Address every point your recruiter shares with you. Having a point of reference as to who’s giving the feedback, or what they’re referring to, will be helpful in the next step. Do you remember shuffling through papers while talking about your last boss? Which interviewer asked that algorithm question you got wrong? (If you can recall which interviewer you answered a specific question for, even better. You can figure out what type of interviewer they are and how to deal with them next time around.)
For some types of criticism, this is easy. If you answered a question incorrectly, go back and study! If you lacked general knowledge on a specific topic, go study! You may never be asked that same question again, but boy will you kick yourself if you are.
Sometimes a criticism has nothing to do with your technical skills at all. This type of feedback can be harder to hear, and more difficult to interpret. You have to ask yourself:
What sort of impression am I giving?
● Sometimes we are perceived differently than we see ourselves. Perhaps you thought you were giving a great justification for a particular answer, but the interviewer felt you were defensive. Instead of writing off that feedback, think through how you could have replied differently. There are many approaches to a problem; you’ll never please everyone. But if you can learn to adapt for a broader audience, you will likely find benefits that reach far beyond the interview process!
● If you truly believe an interviewer mislabelled you, then examine how they might have gotten that impression. Did your nerves get in the way of your confidence? Work on some relaxation and visualization exercises. Was your energy low after the second or third interview? Interviewing is like going to the gym; it takes a lot of practice to build stamina. So go out and flex that interview muscle. Or perhaps it really just wasn’t a good fit for their culture.
Keep in mind, “Culture Fit” is the most frequent piece of feedback I receive from hiring managers at companies of all shapes and sizes. I’ll write more on these two awful words soon, as I think they deserve a post of their own. For the eager job seeker, it can be worse than getting no feedback at all.
Which leads me to...
4. Brush it off.
Reflection is great, but at the end of the day, an interview does not a (wo)man make. You’ll have another crack at it (or for my fellow Millenials, probably many, many cracks.) When you find the company for you, you won’t be worrying about the interview. You’ll be sitting at your new desk, working on your new project, glad the search is over.
So you’re interviewing with an early stage startup. Congratulations! Job hunts are exciting, but in the technology space there is a very delicate balance between being ambitious and being overwhelmed.
Finding a new opportunity in the tech industry can be just plain unpredictable. Technical screens and whiteboarding exercises vary from company to company. Each startup has its own interview and hiring process, so it’s almost impossible to know what to expect. This 6 step guide will help you prepare for the roller coaster ride of finding your new niche.
1. Know your audience
Who calls the shots at the startups where you’re interviewing? Knowing who they are and how they got to their current role can be powerful information. Take a look at the LinkedIn profiles of some of the leaders of the company before meeting with them. Knowing what shaped them into the CTO or VP of Engineering at their startup will give you a talking point or two during the interview. You might even find something in common, like an Alma mater or a mutual connection. Mentioning these will make you more memorable!
Doing the research on who you’re meeting with will also help you feel more prepared and confident entering the interview. Browse the company’s webpage or download their App in advance, too. You might not be able to tell, but the more interested you are in the product, the more enthusiastic you’ll be as a candidate.
2. Get ready to improvise
Think of your interviewer as Sandy Koufax - famous for curve balls. You’ll probably be asked a few questions you won’t have a prepared answer for, but that’s an opportunity to show off how you think on your feet. These questions often determine culture or team fit (which will matter as much to you as it will to the company)! The Muse has a great articleabout how to answer the 31 most common interview questions. Be creative and specific with your answers.
Remember - no one can pitch curve balls for the entire game! You’ll get a chance to rely on the skills you feel most confident about. Be honest about your abilities and training. Have you worked on some side/open source projects that utilize hot new technologies? Try and drop a humble hint at these throughout the interview, and include them in your resume.
Interrupting the interviewer is a huge no-no, but when we’re nervous we may not even notice you’re doing it. Allow the person you’re meeting with a chance to finish their questions before you start answering. Once you do begin delivering your answers, pause to hear the interviewer’s reactions and follow-up questions before changing the subject.
Furthermore, if you don’t understand a question ask for clarification. Incorrectly answering a question because you didn’t quite understand what the interviewer asked can have far larger consequences than asking them to simply rephrase.
4. Trust your recruiter
Technical Recruiters deal with engineers who are actively interviewing on a daily basis, so it’s fair to say we have a lot of experience dealing with matchmaking. Here at Expanxion, we like to go a step further than most and really get to know both the candidates and companies we work with. We know what questions to ask to get to the root of what someone is looking for, and we do our best to only connect them with companies that will offer those things.
Expanxion’s recruiters are always on your side during your job search. We will always do our best to find a place for you to flourish, but this takes some trust. If your recruiter is encouraging you to go through with another interview, or give the coding challenge a shot, it’s probably because we see something you might not. The next interviewer might have lots in common with you, or you might learn about the specific product you’ll be working on in the next round.
5. Relax and have fun!
Every interview is an experiment and an opportunity to learn something new. The vast majority of people don’t regret a practice interview, because in the worst case scenario it gives them an opportunity to learn something or meet someone new in the industry. On the flip side, the best case scenario is joining a company that you build your career around.
Chances are you’ll gain something each time you interview at a small startup, whether it’s a bigger network of industry connections, or a dream job at a company you never even knew existed!
Has the traditional 9-5 work day now become non-existent? Well, if you ask some tech industry folks, they may say yes. Many people enjoy the benefits of being able to set their own schedules, the ability to spend more time with their families and not being fixed to a cubicle all day.
According to a study done by Gallup, 39 percent of employees have already worked from home at some point. Adding to this statistic, brandongaille.com also reports that 13.4 million Americans work from home at least one day per year anyway. The payback of working remotely would seem quite obvious- the flexibility in your schedule, being able to work in your pajamas and for those of us who jump on our computers the minute we open our eyes, working without brushing your teeth and not having to talk to anyone in the office.
Working remotely for the technology industry has given startups and companies the capability to choose candidates that are the cream of the crop, regardless of their geographic location. In other words, you no longer have to necessarily live in the big tech world, to have an amazing tech job.
We live in a multi-tasking generation where doing many things at once is the norm, although some of us need to slow down (don’t text and drive)! But for some people, working from home provides a work environment with less stress where more work seems to get done. People who are working from home are able to live more productive lives with more flexibility for getting things done outside of work life. Yes, one who works from home or in a coffee shop must be disciplined, committed, organized and equipped to deliver job objectives, all without seeing a boss every day, but the gains for many are worth it.
As we know, working remotely isn’t always a good fit for some individual personalities. For example, some thrive in a more structured environment, having a sense of work community and the face to face interactions with managers and teammates. However, as research continues to study this movement of the “new” way to work, we still have a lot to learn. What is your preference? Is working from home making you the superstar of your company or is it cramping your productive style?