A great experience applying to a position (I)

I wrote in my last post about lessons I’ve got from bad experiences looking for a job. In this post I’m going to tell you about a good experience I had last week, how much I learnt from it, and the lessons I got from it. Make no mistakes: I didn’t get offered the position in the end.

For me, the outcome is not the most important thing in such a process, but the feeling you’re not losing your time, and the lessons learned. In this post I’ll try to point why I felt I wasn’t losing my time, and in the following I’ll post the lessons learned. Experiences

  • The job listing was in a specialized place for software job listings, but the tone of the listing was not a yet-another-ad-looking-for-a-guru. I think there is some kind of kind of wrong game between companies and candidates. Companies asks for lots of things from candidates. From my recruiting experience (yes I’ve been on the other side too) candidates usually fall in three categories: candidates good at everything asked, candidates that consider themselves an expert in a topic for an article they read about the topic, and candidates that try to tell beforehand why they think they match the position. My impression is that the first group does not apply and companies tend to ask for an interview to people on the second group. However this company was asking for people “good enough”. It was something like “hey, we are looking for good programmers. But mere mortals. If you can think you can match, please apply”. They made a funny listing with what they were looking for, they got a lot of attention and they were proud of their listing, not giving a damn for the comments. Good for the listing.

  • I applied a Wednesday, I had a first reply on Thursday, and we wrote each one back an forth (despite 8 hours and 17200 km of distance) several times until Friday. On Friday I got a basic assignment. I sent it back on Sunday, and on Monday morning (his Monday afternoon) he had revised the assignment and was planning an interview on Skype. We did the interview on Thursday, and on Friday we wrote me back telling me I wasn’t going to be offered the job. Yes, 10 days total.

  • Regarding the mails previous to the assignment, he made interesting questions. In retrospect, there were wonderful questions to know if somebody is what it seems, but from reading them at the beginning, they seemed pretty innocent. Good for the previous

  • With respect the assignment, I did both in Java (for now I feel more comfortable), and in Ruby (the main language of the position). He evaluated both, and even if Ruby’s one was not good (in retrospect I would say clearly wrong), he was interested in talking with me. Both he (CEO of the startup) and the developers’ manager. So the assignment was part of the process, but not the whole process. I had told him I wasn’t perfect rubyist, so he only wanted to know if I was a good developer (and it seemed my Java was good enough), and my level of Ruby.

  • On the interview we were talking about lots of topics for an hour. Despite my sometimes rough spoken English, they were very patient, and they didn’t seemed bored or in run to cut the interview. I had done a research of the company, but they point it and were grateful.

  • And the following day I got an email telling me I was no longer in the process. I think this was the part less clear for me because the rejection seems to point to a “there were better candidates”, but there were something in the tone (like a polite “contact us if your circumstances change”) that could point to “you seem good but you need to learn Ruby better”. I know enough from girls rejections that “I like you as a friend” is not what it sounds but it is what everybody knows. :D

Anyway, overall I got a really nice experience, I felt valued, and I learnt a lot. Lessons in the following post.

First published here