As a candidate after an interview, you may find yourself often contemplating: how could I have done better? What was the interviewer looking for? Obviously, there is no ‘one right answer’. However, I can share with you what we are looking for when we interview candidates at Aidoc.
The most important thing for us is the cultural fit and alignment of values with our team. As a company and a team, we value curiosity and a growth mindset, accountability and ownership – doing what it takes to win, and we want to make sure that our people are happy and satisfied day-in-day-out.
- To see that you are curious and a learning person, we will ask – when was the last time you learned something new while solving a problem?
- To get a demonstration of your drive and ownership we might ask – when was the last time you went beyond what was expected of you and defined your own requirements?
- And to know that you have a good chance of being happy with us, we could ask if you know your goals and what you hope to gain from your joining the company, or how would you know if this position is the right one for you?
If you can answer these four questions with ease and confidence – you’ll find greater success in your job search process because your responses will show your curiosity, initiative and maturity – qualities that are of utmost importance to me as a hiring manager and to us as a company.
The First Impression Bias
Us humans, and hiring managers, in particular, tend to judge very quickly. In fact, research shows that it takes us only a few seconds to form a first impression when meeting someone for the first time. And hiring managers do it from just a simple glance at a CV.
To avoid giving in to the first impression bias, I try to gather as many concrete examples and real-world evidence about a candidate’s qualities and personality. My method is not only based upon the resume, but on a candidate’s actions, values, and goals, which I can glean from the interview process by the way they talk about their experiences and how they solve problems. This means that in order to make a decision, I need quite a lot of information about you, and getting that information to me as effectively as possible can make a huge difference. Here’s an example from my personal experience that highlights the benefits of being a well-prepared job candidate.
Take two candidates
Candidate 1 applies with a CV that passes the bar for an introduction phone call.
We schedule a call with our recruiter to check if they are at least a basic match. The recruiter passes along a summary of the call to the hiring manager, which is the only information the hiring manager has besides the CV. A day or two later, the candidate talks to the hiring manager on the phone, answers a few more questions and waits another day to get a response because the hiring manager has to consult colleagues.
During that time we get the CV of candidate 2…
Candidate 2 knows exactly what to prepare.
She sends us:
- Her relevant academic achievements
- Her GitHub profile with code she wrote in a few exercises when she applied to other companies / when she practiced new concepts
- A recommendation letter from her previous boss
- A list of blog posts, books, and lectures that influenced her career and her expectations from her next position.
After her resume intrigues the hiring manager, he surveys her Github, which has a diverse profile with clean code. He then gains insights about her character from her recommendation letter and expectations list. When this candidate comes to her on-site interview, he already knows so much about her that it was all she needed to do to show us that she was qualified and fit the company culture.
While Candidate 1 was waiting for her code-writing exercise, Candidate 2 receives a job offer- 3 days after her intro email to the company.
So why don’t good candidates do it?
Because we’re lazy. We know that even without much preparation we can still find a decent job. We’re good engineers, and good engineers are hard to come by, so why work for it? Let the companies work hard on interviewing us, they need us more than we need them, right?
The truth is, you’re only doing yourself a disservice by following this path. You may indeed find a good job by applying for jobs in a ‘typical way’, however, you’ll never know how much better it could be, or what opportunities may have been available to you if only you had put in that extra 10% upfront.
The benefits of preparing well
The benefits of preparing well for an interview extend beyond just the immediate satisfaction of moving forward more quickly. They help you contextualize the most crucial questions you should be asking yourself as you prepare for your next step in your career. This process pushes you to continuously learn (which is a key value here at Aidoc) and ask yourself the most essential questions for understanding what you want out of your career. If you can’t answer these questions yourself – it seems unlikely that a future employer will be able to presume the answers on your behalf.
By following these guidelines and pre-empting these questions, you’ll enjoy a shorter interview process, a higher chance of receiving a job offer, possibly a higher salary in the same position in the same company, and more free time in interviews and communications with the company. You can use this time to present yourself, show that you fit the company culture and further stress your strengths to improve your chances. You’ll also benefit from more free time in general, with a well-curated portfolio that will be useful for any job application process down the road.
Another benefit of preparing well is the long term effects of getting the job you want today. Putting in the extra effort to obtain a better job at a high-level company will make you more attractive the next time you find yourself searching. As an engineer, getting a better job today means doing more challenging work, spending more time to learn and gain new skills, and working with a great team – making you a more attractive candidate the next time around. Over a 30-year career, these advantages add up. Can you imagine where will your career be 20-30 years from now, if you scored the job you wanted the most, five times in a row?
As Oscar Wilde once said, “Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.”