Job Search Part 2: Interviews

Chris had spent a lot of time preparing for interviews. It was tough getting ready for these interviews because he just didn’t know what to expect. He wasn’t sure how technical these interviews would be, or how much he could get done over the phone, or in the time period he had.

His first phone screens we were both terrified for. He came home from work early for his first one. Cranked down the air conditioning and got his computer all set up. I took the kids to run errands so Chris could have the house quite and ready. He had studied some of Cracking the Coding Interview. He didn’t feel ready, but ready or not it was happening. Joke was on us. The first phone screen they just asked him questions about his resume and some projects he worked on at work. He told them the languages (programming languages) he was most familiar with, etc. For some reason we were expecting a technical phone screen right away, but most of the companies started off with just a quick chat.

He had several first phone screens like that and was getting the hang of it. He was getting more comfortable talking on the phone and describing what he was working on. All of those phone screens he passed and went on to the next phase.

The second phase of interviewing for Chris, was a coding challenge. They would send him a link to a coding challenge.  He would then work on it and submit it to them. (I can’t remember if all the companies did this, but most of the companies did.) Chris also passed all the ones he did as well.

The third phase of interviewing is the technical phone screen. These were the ones he was studying for, and getting ready for.  He tried to schedule these ones as strategic as possible. The ones he didn’t care about as much he would schedule first for practice. The companies he really wanted to work for he scheduled later.

The first technical phone screen Chris had he total bombed. I came home with the kids when he was done running errands (I would leave the house every time he had an interview so it would be quite for him.)  and he was way bummed about it. (In hindsight he knew the question and knew how to do it, but his nerves got in the way.) I thought maybe he was just being tough on himself and that maybe he did better than he thought. He heard back from them the next day thanking him for his time, but saying they were going a different direction. Chris was really bummed after that. (Not because he wanted that job, but that it was more difficult than he had thought it would be.)

Every company goes at their own speed for interviewing. We were getting to a point where some jobs he was progressing faster with his interviews than others. His first onsite interview was in Chicago. Neither of us were thrilled about moving to Chicago and Chris wasn’t sure if he wanted to work for this company. He decided to go anyway for practice. He didn’t get that job (and we’re not sure if he would have taken it if they would have offered it.) but he learned a lot from it.

During the trip to Chicago he submitted the coding challenge for Zillow. When he got home he had several other phone interviews and things just got crazier and crazier.  He was still at every stage of interviewing.

There were times Chris was very optimistic about things, and other times he felt like he would never get hired at another company. I always felt like something was going to work out.

As time went on companies were either weeding Chris out or we were weeding out other companies. In a two week period he had 4 onsite interviews in the Seattle area and the Bay area. He would fly to one, fly home, have a day to prep for the next. Fly out, fly home, have a day to prep, repeated over and over.  His last two interviews he flew to Seattle, interviewed, flew to San Jose, interviewed, and then flew home.

Of his 5 onsite interviews 2 turned him down, two offered him jobs, and 1 wanted to fly him out again. We decided that he would take one of the two other jobs over that one so we turned them down. While all this was happening Chris’ boss at Intel was moving to San Antonio to lead a different team. Chris most likely could have taken this new job as well.

I’m glad Chris got the job he really wanted, and that we are done with interviews for a few years at least!

We did learn some important things here as well. Sometimes Chris would feel like he totally bombed the interview, but in fact he did just fine.  Most companies do two technical phone screens before flying you out while others do one technical phone screen, then fly you out.



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