How To Land An Interview Almost Every Time (As A Programmer)

Applying to startups, medium-big corps is a tedious task. The standard is to apply to 100+ companies and prepare 100+ programming problems. Does it have to be this hard? Short answer no. In fact, I applied to 30 companies and landed 25 interviews. And the good news is, it generally doesn’t take more than 2 weeks to finish with all that interview process (of course it depends on the company) 

Let’s get started already. If you are applying to:

Startup/Medium-Size Company:

The hiring process depends on the company. More often than not, you talk to the CEO/CTO and are judged over your “compatibility” with the workplace’s culture. Generally, the first interview is just to get to know you, your rate (please don’t ask for a crazy salary if you are just starting out), and what you can bring to the ecosystem. At later stages, you are assigned a take-home project or a live coding interview.

Your responsibility depends on how much funding the startup has and its burn rate. The lesser the investment, the more critical your responsibility. It makes sense because the founder(s) can’t hire another developer to help you out. And you probably have been hired because you’re full-stack. You are also expected to have an “entrepreneurial mindset”, you get the chance to make influential decisions. It's important to know that you aren’t a “code monkey”.You'll need to make well-thought decisions for the sake of the startup. 

To land an interview, your best bet is to reach out to the founders: Skip sending your application through the website. Instead, craft your best looking, most personal, and professional email out there. You research the startup, research the founders, and link what they work on to your skills. 

  • Be careful of sounding too general “I’m interested in your company, it’s truly something the world needs”; Say what is special about it, if you have a question or 2, you can include them. But the main purpose is to show your interest. 

  • Include your resume and make sure it’s clean and spacious enough. No one wants to read a 2-page resume full of little details. The most important on the top, and shoot your shot, no time to waste.

  • Include a call to action at the end of your email “Would love to hear from you.” 

  • You are set! You’ll be amazed by the response rate. And the founders are friendlier than you might think.

To find startups that match your profile, you can use:

Big tech

This one is tricky. The application portals are heavily advertised and probably everyone applies through them. Result? Your application goes unnoticed. 

I won’t beat around the bush, you need a recommendation. Unless you are some high profile employee at company X, you won’t be noticed. Most people I know got in with a recommendation. This legacy system puts other applicants at a disadvantage in the resume screening process. 

But how can you get a recommendation? So far there are 2 ways.

Your circle/network

Start by asking people in your circle. Note that a recommendation helps you with skipping the screening process and that’s it. The rest is on you. Being hired totally depends on your skills from this point forward.

Create a relationship

If you are applying to big corp XYZ, chances are you're really interested in the company culture (salary aside). You can go on LinkedIn and connect with an employee from that company. Ideally, you want to stay in touch for months to come. A great way to do so is by asking questions!  When you build this long term relationship, you can ask for a recommendation. Obviously, you don’t want to talk to employees just because of the recommendation, be authentic! 

This brings it to the end of this article. If you learned something new or want to connect shoot me an email :) Until next time. Take care!

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