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There's More To An Interview Than A Code Review!

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There's More To An Interview Than A Code Review!

Tom Page Angular, React, Vue.js...

I often see companies make the mistake of focusing almost entirely on the “technical fit” when interviewing a developer for a potential role.  The technical assignment takes centre stage, and should that be a pass, the final interview is all about discussing the “said assignment”.  Why did you use that framework? Show me your thought process? Talk me through the code. 

Yes, the technical fit for any development role is incredibly important and an assignment is often the fairest way to assess a developer’s capability.  But when it comes to the final interview, it’s not all about the code!

When someone is making a decision on which company to join, that decision is often led by emotion just as much as the technical side.  What’s the culture like? Would they get on with potential colleagues? Is there a strong social element? Does everyone believe in what their doing each day? Is there a coherent vision? Does it seem to be a generally cool place to work? How do the management team value their staff? Is there ping-pong? 

When someone’s deciding on which company to join, the answers to these questions create that “gut feeling” that makes the all-important decision.

In my day to day experience, I often don’t see companies making enough of an effort or putting enough thought into showcasing this cultural aspect of their business.  For example, inviting a developer for a final interview only to lock them in a meeting room and spend the entire interview running through their code with a fine-tooth combe before sending them on their way just doesn’t cut it!

The interview process is incredibly time consuming for both the company and the developer. There’s the 1st stage skype, the technical assignment, the review of the technical assignment, the 2nd stage and sometimes even a third.  Then there’s the time taken to put together an offer and finally waiting for a decision.  Hours upon hours of time invested in that developer.

So, when it comes to the final interview and everything’s positive, it’s imperative in my opinion, with the market as competitive as it is, for a company to pull out all the stops and showcase what working with them would be like.  Show the developer round the office.  Introduce them to the team.  Communicate the vision and how they could potentially help in that journey.  Showcase the product that they’d be helping to build. Explain why working for you would be entirely awesome. These examples might sound obvious to some people reading this, but you’d be surprised how many companies don’t do this.  If the interviewer genuinely feels that their company is the right home for that developer, give them an insight as to why that’s the case and why that developer should feel the same way.

And the extra effort shouldn’t stop there.  Here at Foxtek, we’ve introduced the idea of an offer pack to our clients.  It offers a strong alternative to the standard email or word document and allows the company to stand out from others.  It normally consists of a carefully crafted PDF communicating why you like that developer, what you feel they can bring to the team, how you feel their skills could improve by working in your environment.   Why not even add a photo of the team they’d be working with? “Space for one more.”

I’m not asking companies to go extreme and take the developer out for a night on the town! Just to recognise that when making a decision about which company to join, for a lot of potential employees, it’s as much about the cultural fit and the interview experience along the way as it is the technical.  If done right, the developer should feel like the interview process was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, not just a code review session!