In our previous article in this series, we talked about the most important elements to consider when preparing for an interview. We focused on the importance of keeping calm and managing stress in order to successfully convey technical skills, and improve our opportunity with clients. However, it is worth asking: how do I stand out during my interview? How can I prepare beforehand to gain an advantage?
In this article we will address the following strategies:
- Investigating our client
- Our code is our business card
- Articles and technical videos
- Optimum LinkedIn presence
- Presentation videos
Investigating our Client
Clients can come from a diverse array of industries in terms of products, types of companies, locations, and languages. All this determines the particular needs they will have - needs our services strive to fulfill. For example, different geographical areas may be restricted when it comes to making online payments; this means an eCommerce platform may need special plugins and by being familiar with these, we will have an advantage. The same can be said about deliveries or types of products. Simultaneously, we need to be aware that a gaming company may be more interested in our creative side within our graphics-related skills. In addition, a financial organization may expect our interests to be focused on security and transaction management. Therefore, conveying interest and knowledge in a particular sphere is a good strategy.
Knowing these types of details beforehand allows us to anticipate questions, emphasize certain elements in our CV, and be aware of the attributes we must convey. We must also be respectful and careful of what we do during our interview; for example, pointing out a security flaw in a client’s website at an interview will likely have a negative effect.
Our Code is our Business Card
For a developer, there’s nothing better than clean, organized, clear, and precise code; a well-written code meets all the highest standards with significant variables and a precise logic that’s free of ‘code smell’.
Personally, I’ve had candidates that have not done well in interviews but shared their code via a repository and this completely changed my opinion about their expertise. Having a repository of completed projects showing ideal coding such as we would want in a ‘code review’ will speak volumes. Clean code can come to our rescue and be a big plus in an interview.
The strategy is to keep selective code in our repositories - code that conveys our skills and the scope of our interests or knowledge that we can share on our CV or LinkedIn profile. We must, however, be certain any code we share does not include sensitive information from previous clients. If while reviewing our code, a potential client finds an email address or token or, even worse, a password, they will assume their information will be handled with the same carelessness.
Articles and Technical Videos
Doubtless, as developers we watch videos about new technology and read tutorials on a daily basis. We’re probably subscribed to multiple technology sites and are familiar with several authors of this type of material; we trust them and have confidence in their knowledge. We, too, can transmit this type of confidence in interviews if we prepare videos or articles about relevant topics that reinforce our expertise. When applying this strategy, we must be certain of our information, respect all good practices, and be especially careful with our words and pronunciation.
Optimum LinkedIn Presence
Without a doubt, LinkedIn is one of the most useful tools for recruiters on a global scale. But they’re not the only ones who use it: it’s probable that one of the first things potential clients will do once they receive our information is to look up our LinkedIn profile. For this reason, it's crucial that it be neat and up to date. Our profile must convey the professionalism that’s expected of us; it must include our education and certifications, as well as the recommendations and assessments of our colleagues. From our profile picture to our comments, we must always convey our professionalism.
This strategy is very important and will probably be the most effective. There are two factors in our favor when we create a presentation video. One, we have the power of first impressions; we all know their importance. Unfortunately, mistakes cannot be rectified during live interviews. We can’t take back mispronounced words or misinterpreted speech. A video presentation allows us to make an impeccable first impression; we can present ourselves to others while applying recommendations and making adjustments.
The second factor in our favor when we use a presentation video is familiarity. When meeting someone we have previously seen in a video, we feel that we know them, even though it may be the first time we meet in person. Given this, it is easier for us to be confident and for the environment to be more relaxed.
In short, these two factors allow us to relax during an interview and improve our self-confidence. We already have made a favorable first impression through video and interviewers will feel as if they know us.
In regards to presentation videos, we have one more recommendation: so a video does not appear too manufactured, we can record it as the first in a series of tutorials within which we convey why we are passionate about a specific subject, and our experience with the subject. This way we can introduce ourselves without making our video seem like it was created solely to impress.
From experience, I can say interview preparation reinforces several of our personal aspects: it allows us to present ourselves as worthy professionals, to show our technical knowledge, and to demonstrate our soft skills that help us become part of a team.