Video details

Interviewing in Tech: Tips and Tricks


Presented by Women Who Code London Panelists: 🎙️Mincy George, Engineering Manager at Spotify
🎙️ Serena Fritsch, Product Engineer at Intercom
🎙️ Alex Mikhailova, Quantitative Developer at Quadrature
🎙️ Sarah Cooper, Technical Recruiter at Intercom
📣 Moderator Nadia Zhuk, Product Engineer at Intercom
Topic: "Interviewing in Tech: Tips and Tricks"
We have invited some amazing experts from the tech world who will share their knowledge about the interview process in the UK so that you could improve your chances of getting hired as a software engineer here.
These are some of the questions we will discuss during the event:
- What are the biggest red flags in a candidate’s resume? - How should an engineer prepare for a technical interview? - What mistakes do you see engineers typically make during technical interviews? - How do you assess if someone is a good cultural fit for your company?
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Okay, this meeting is being recorded. Okay, let's kick it off. Thank you so much for the introduction and, you know, all the amazing announcements. Yeah. Welcome to our panel today. Thank you so much for joining. We were very excited to see so many people sign up and also to see amazing guests join and volunteer their time here today. So the way this will run, I will quickly introduce all of our panelists and tell you a little bit more about them, and then we'll go through the questions that we have prepared for them, and then we'll have time for Q and A. So do prepare your questions. Maybe you have some already. If you want to ask something specifically of a specific person, then please add this person's name to the question so that I know who to ask. You can ask during the panel discussion, or you can ask afterwards, whatever you prefer. Also, I really like it when people raise their hand and ask the question with a voice. So if you can do that, it will be wonderful as well. All right, to start us off, let me introduce our first panelist mincy, Engineering Manager at Spotify. Mince is an experienced engineering manager with strong technical leadership, customer focus, and people management skills. Over the years, she led teams across research, engineering, product, and development services that impacted millions around the world. Means she started her career as a software engineer with a global consultancy firm and has worked with diverse teams across the globe. When not working, Mince enjoys volunteering at Coda Dodge and spending time with her family. Mince, welcome. Thank you, Nadia. Good to have you here. Our second panelist is Serena, product Engineer at Intercom. Serena works in the infrastructure group at Intercom. She is part of the team that keeps Intercom running for all customers and enables our engineers to ship safely and fast. She's passionate about Intercom's availability and demystifying infrastructure to other engineers. In her spare time, she likes to run, but she's still working on getting faster, and she organizes Shipped Home, a non for profit conference around software delivery. Thank you so much for joining us for now. Very excited to be part of this panel. Thank you. Our third guest is Alex. She's a quantitative developer at Quadrature. I hope I'm pronouncing this right. Alex is an experienced developer and mentor who has recently stepped up to Project lead role, leading Cross team infrastructural projects. She has spent the last four years at the London based hedge fund exploring and contributing in different areas ranging from algorithms and infrastructure engineering to research before taking on the project lead role and falling in love with it. Alex also sees herself as a lifelong learner and is now pursuing her part time PhD in statistics while working full time. Thank you so much for joining us, Alex. Hi, thank you for having me. Really excited and looking forward to our. Discussion and our fourth panelist is Sarah, technical recruiter at Intercom. With over a decade of experience in recruitment, sarah has worked with global organizations, spending in size from startups to multinational corporations. Sarah is passionate about supporting businesses with their hiring strategies, diversity and inclusion journey, and attracting global talent. Sarah, thank you so much for being here. Thank you, Nadia. I'm really excited for today. Yeah, I'm excited as well. So, my name is Nadia, I'm a product engineer at Intercom and I will be moderating this discussion. So I'm a self taught, full stack software engineer, book author and career mentor. Before I became a programmer, I used to be a journalist and an editor. And I'm passionate about bringing more people from non Stem backgrounds into tech. And I try to achieve this through blogging speaking and volunteering future and here. Lovely to have you all here. I hope this will be an interesting discussion and a useful one for all of us. So with that out of the way, let's start technical interviews. Like interviewing and tag is a topic that is kind of on everyone's mind. I think that for most people who are joining, it's something that you have either had to do in the past or maybe you're just preparing to interview for your first role. In any case, I know from my experience that interviewing intact can be really challenging. And honestly, when I hear stories of how people interview in some other industries, I'm just, oh my God, it sounds so easy compared to the things that we have to go through to get software engineering jobs. So it is a challenging topic, but I hope that today we kind of have a mix of guests that will help us unpack this and we'll help guide you through the journey from the very beginning up until the moment you hopefully get your offer, maybe a couple of offers. So in technical interviewing, the first point of contact usually is in most cases, I would say is very often a technical recruiter. So my first question will be directed to Sarah as kind of the first point of contact for contact for many people interviewing for developer jobs. So this is the start of the process. I think it is important. I think a lot of people spend a lot of time preparing for kind of the media parts of the process, the interviews, the whiteboarding and all this. But still, I think that it's very important how you start the journey. So I was curious to learn from you, Sarah. Maybe you could share with us what are the biggest red flags that you can see in someone's resume or CV that they sent in? And maybe there is something, is there anything at all that you can think of what an engineer candidate, an engineering candidate can do that would make you not proceed with their recruitment process, maybe even before you have even talked to them? Is there anything that comes to mind yeah, sure. I think from a recruitment perspective, one thing that we always notice is when people have put in the wrong company name or the wrong person's name when they're applying for a job. So one thing I would always like to see is just if you don't want to do a cover note or if you don't want to target your application to every company, just leave it out. You don't need to do that because that can really annoy people. So it's definitely one piece of information I would recommend. I think a lot of recruiters today in the technical world cross reference LinkedIn with your resume too. So try to make sure that your information is correct and correlating with both. Don't be afraid to have it nice and short, nice and succinct, and have it punchy a couple of lines about what you're doing there. And I always really encourage people to put some key achievements that they've had in their career. And if you have any gaps in your resume, don't be afraid to put that in as well. Just say career gap. And if you don't want to explain what the career gap was for, at least you've highlighted that because that's what a lot of recruiters would question. Why isn't that highlighted? And then one thing I always recommend is a one line piece of information about the company that you have worked for in the past. For example, like B to B, SaaS Company or Ecommerce Company. So those are the couple of things that we would look for when we're assessing profiles. And I was trying to think about if I've ever stopped a process before even speaking to somebody, if there are any major red flags, but I really can't think of anything like two, unless they're really mean to me or something. But I think the biggest red flag is maybe not showing up to an interview and not explaining why. So hopefully if you're getting to that interview phase, you have the recruiter's attention. So that's always positive. I hope that helps. Yeah, it was interesting that you said that having a career gap is actually not a red flag to you because I think that a lot of people have theories around those things, especially women who have taken maternity leaves and things like that. So it's good to know that it's not a deal breaker. Yeah, definitely. I think it's more and more common for people to take care of various different reasons, not just parental leave. People want to take time out and travel after two years being locked up due to COVID. So, yeah, feel free. And I definitely recommend people sort of highlighting that if they've taken some time out. Amazing. So to flip it around, we have talked about red flags and bad things that people have like mistakes that they can do. Is there anything that makes you impressed with the candidate during the initial recruiter screening? And maybe there is something that engineers should do to stand out in a good way when interacting with the technical recruiter in the first screening call. Yeah, really good question. I think if you got your research done. So I think in today's world we're so lucky to have so much information public about companies and hiring processes. So if you come to an initial interview with the recruiter, don't be afraid to mention the fact that I read on the blog that you have a cultural contribution interview. Tell me a bit more about that. Do you ask this question? Do you ask that question? And that will immediately show the recruiter that you're really engaged and you're really passionate about the company and just in general having a bit of knowledge about maybe the organization in its past is really helpful. Just doing your own research prior to the interview definitely helps, I think always, right? Yeah, definitely. You'd be surprised. A lot of people sometimes don't do it. So yeah, I'd strongly encourage okay, amazing. Thank you so much. Okay, imagine, congratulations, you have passed through the technical recruiter screen and now you're going to prepare for the Midi part technical interview, which is something that a lot of people dread when it comes to interviewing tech. I personally do dread the technical interviews. It's not my strongest thing that I can do. So I hope the following questions and answers will help us do mystify the process and maybe make you feel a little bit more prepared for the technical interview. So since the following questions will relate to the technical interview, I will be asking Alexanderena and also Mince if you want to answer as well. So Alex, if you could give advice for somebody who's preparing for a technical interview, how do you think someone should prepare for a technical interview? What should they learn? Maybe some resources that you recommend. In general, what's your kind of recommendation comes to preparing for a technical coding interview? Sure, well, I think first of all, obviously it depends on the type of role that you're applying for. Study the role description, see kind of which skills could be your strong skills and which skills you need to brush up on, kind of get an idea of what is the role that you're interviewing for. You can have a look at maybe glass door for the company and see what kind of questions that they tend to ask in terms of useful resources. I think everyone has heard of lead code practice, practice, practice and I think for me personally, the thing that in my experience I found the most useful is mock interviews, either with friends or if you have the opportunity to do it, maybe signing up for more interviews on lead code again or making use of the women who code space and the new exciting projects that we're launching. I think being able studying technical content and understanding technical content and actually being able to demonstrate it during the interview to another person. These are two separate skills that you need to practice. Thanks so much. Serena, would you like would you like to chime in? Yeah, I totally agree with Alexa. It like I had when I was thinking about this a little bit, I had two books that come to my mind. There is a philly famous for cracking the coding interview, which is like the bible for interviews, which I have somewhere, somewhere in my shelf which I can get out later on. And there is another relatively new one. I sent you the link in a second. It's called Let Me Find this decoding the Technical Interview Process by Emma Bostian. I thought that's actually really good as well. So maybe this helps to get like she does some nice structured plans of learning for anyone who like for example, I need some organization of how I will learn how to learn the other thing. For example, we do this in intercom because we do like this technical session, like a collaborative pairing session. But the recruiter would send you before has some information and some read me write, which you have to basically run the code. Make sure that you can run this exercise. So if the company sends you something, read through it, obviously, and run through the setups and all that. So that's my personal recommendation. Thanks so much. Vincent, would you like sure. Yes. Alexander, can you hear me? Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Alex and Serena covered most of the things I just wanted to emphasize on learning the basics. Because in most of the coding interviews, the problem is not very complex. It is our inability to understand that that's where we get stuck most of the time. So go and brush up on data structures, the basic one, not the advanced ones like counting schedule or anything. The basic ones. Learn it, understand some of the algorithms, the complexity and practice, practice, practice lots of lead code and start with the simple one. Go to Medium, go to Hard and try to solve it on your own. And then look at the discussions or the answers and find out like how your solution is different from the solution. You can optimize it and find the best way to solve it. Don't focus on writing the shortest code in an interview. That's not what we are looking. We are looking for people who are most of the companies are looking for people who can communicate while they deliver a technical solution. Maybe it's a small problem that you're solving. So focus on that. Practice those skills. And for system design interviews, if you are an experienced developer, you'd be asked to design a system while you are interviewing with most of the companies. And there again apply the basic principles like cash or partition or whatever you have learned. What we are looking is how can people navigate an unknown space? So a problem that has been asked to solve or a system design question is an unknown question. And how we can bring some clarity to that, how you can understand by asking questions and starting with simple design and simple solutions. That's where you want to get to and that's what you want to practice to it. Yeah, sorry, I'm just thinking back on that, what Nissan just said. But talking about system design, I just wanted to add that there is an amazing book which is called Design and Data Intensive Applications, which covers a lot of real life system design cases and just came in through the book and looking at how people were solving their problems and more importantly, how the design of their systems evolved as the requirements for their systems have been changing. I think it could be a very good place to start, especially if you haven't done a lot of system design interviews in the past. There is another Bible, also a very huge book. So in terms of preparation, we understand that it's important to practice practice to do with code, more interviews. But if we talk about more concurrently, in terms of technical skills, what do you usually interviewers? What do you expect from engineers? In terms of technical skills? Is it okay if they don't remember something and they use Google and other things that they just have to know? So I think that if we are talking about skills, there's like a spectrum of things that you absolutely have to know. And if you have to Google this thing and it looks kind of strange that you have to Google it and then there are some things that are nice to have, but nobody really remembers them and everybody Googles them. So if you maybe could give some examples of some. In terms of technical knowledge and skills, is there anything that is a red flag for you during an interview? So if somebody doesn't know what something is, then it shows you that maybe their skills are not at the necessary level yet. If something comes to mind to you, maybe consult with Alex again. Sure. So, regarding technical skills, I think two absolute musts for me. First is the ability to estimate the complexity of your code and the understanding of the concept. My interviews are mostly technical, so we are mostly talking about some sort of a problem and I ask candidates to come up with a few solutions to the problem as it evolves in the process of the interview. And it's mostly algorithmic, so when the candidate proposes a solution, they must be able to estimate the efficiency of the solution, the time and space complexity, and they must be familiar with the concept that's one non negotiable. And the second is the ability to write, readable and structured code. I don't really care about the language, it's not that important. So I usually let my candidates pick the language of their choice. But whenever they pick the language I would expect a code that I would be able to understand, even not being an expert in this language. So it should be structured, it should be considerate of the person who is reading the code. So this is very important for me. Sorry. Serena, would you like to add anything to this? Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree with Phonics. I think we always say, for example, when we run these intercom sessions, like problem solving, if we're not compilers, I don't care whether there's a see me colon there or I'm not a compiler, I'm a human, but I need to read your code, right? I need to be understanding your variable names. I need to understand basically you communicate with me a obviously verbally, hopefully as a candidate, but also via the code. I think that's one thing. And as many already said, like the basic data structures or hash maps, dictionaries, whatever you call them in any language, arrays, these kinds of things. That's the two things. I don't think, for example, in intercom we allow people that they Google because that's part of our job. It's also a really good indication as well if they Google because it's like they can unblock themselves and it's another kind of sign or data point for us. Thank you so much. Do you have anything to say? Yeah. Communication is very important when you are doing a technical interview, you know, speak out loud, like, what is what are you thinking about? Otherwise the interviewer won't understand your thought process. And it's okay to make minor mistakes here and there. That's fine. If you feel like you have halfway through and then you've chosen the wrong data structure or you've taken the wrong approach, feel free to go back and change it. It's okay. Most companies don't look for the complete thing to be done. It's more how they approach the problem, how they sold it, how they communicated, and how was the code or how was the system they designed so far? Can you tell something about the technical ability of the candidate? Those are the things that most of these interviews are looking for. So don't forget to go back and change something. If you feel like strongly you have to change. I mean, take it something like you're working with one of your colleagues and trying to solve this problem or trying to design a system. And how would you do that sitting with one of your colleagues? If you apply that, you will be very relaxed and you'll bring the best out of you. That would be my advice. I think it's very useful advice. When you think back to your experience conducting those technical interviews, can you think of any mistakes that engineers tend to make during the interviews? And here, I'm not talking about like specific syntax errors that they make more like approaches that are on, that they take maybe some communication issues or just behaviors that maybe candidates kind of shoot themselves in the foot, so to say. And maybe there is something that they can kind of tweak and immediately just make a better impression on you as an interviewer, maybe. Serena, you would like to share? Yeah, I think one mistake I often see is that when people read the question and they jump in too soon, they start to soon with a solution without really trying to understand the full question and without maybe asking clarifying questions and trying to narrow down the requirements around the question itself. And maybe the other thing is to come up with an over complicated solution. Right. A lot of times I think Mini said this already, we're not looking for an algorithm that changes the world or the most efficient, super smart solution. It's like prude force is often a good first approach. A simple, well organized solution will bring you far. I think this is like coming up with convoluted or over optimized solutions is what I've seen in the last few years. And then obviously not asking clarifying questions or not communicating at all during the interview. Right. Like being really like the interviewer. It's not clear what you're thinking as a candidate, what's going on in your head, where you heading with regards to your solution. That's the next kind of mistake, I'd say. Yeah, I think communication is very important and I think some people don't think of the interview as a collaboration and they keep silent. I think it helps everyone. Alex, what do you think? Yeah, absolutely. Communication 100%. I would say that for me, treating the interview as an exam is probably the worst mistake, a mistake that a candidate could make. Because I'm not here to examine you and I don't know, give you the top mark. I'm here to see what it would be like to collaborate with you. Again. It's not a test. When I ask a question and expect a perfect answer right away, I would actually like to talk through the solution, to talk through the problem, to work on this problem together. And for me, a good interview would be an interview where we discuss different approaches and where we actually debate but keep the conversation going rather than a candidate going into the rabbit hole or staying completely silent for, I don't know, 15 minutes and then producing a perfect algorithm. So I would take the former like all the time. And I think the second, it's not really a mistake, but for me it would certainly be a red flag, is not asking questions about the company because the interview is not just us interviewing the candidate, but it's the candidate interviewing us as well. So come prepared. Ask me about the company, ask me about my role, ask us about what kind of projects we do, just show interest. And it's not just for us to like you, it's also for you to figure out whether we are the right place for you, whether that would be a good fit. Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. So let's imagine that you have used all this advice and you have done all the lead code and you're done with the technical interview. And now you need to face the lovely or scary engineering manager and you need to go through the behavioral interview. And I know that many engineers read those interviews because they are not sure what to expect and also know what examples to give, what answers to give. So I would be curious to learn from Lindsay and also from others if you have participated in behavioral interviews a little bit more about how we should approach the behavioral interview with the manager. So, in terms of preparation, how should someone prepare for such an interview? Is there anything specific that they should learn? Maybe like a framework of answering those questions or some examples, stories that they should prepare? In general, how would you recommend people prepare, especially if they have never done those kind of interviews? Yeah, I can probably start on this. So, first of all, it's good to understand what the behavioral interview is for. It's actually to find out if the person is a good fit for the company or the team. So the interviewer is trying to get to the root of how you performed and behaved in the past. So they want to hear your experience, actual results, scenarios, and want to know more about you. You probably heard questions like tell me a time you worked on a difficult project. Tell me a time you give a constructive feedback to a colleague. Except that these are all behavioral questions in how you prepare it. First and foremost, learn about the company, learn about the culture, what is that stands out about the company, how do the people interact with them? What are the values? Have a look at the website, social media feeds and talk to your recruiter. Your recruiter should help you. You should ask the questions what is the team that I will be working on? What is the team dynamics that helps you to prepare your behavioral interview? Another important thing is be yourself. Be honest here. What we are looking is a mutual fit. You should be a good fit to the company and vice versa. It doesn't do any good to any of these parties if you are trying to fit into a mold which you are not a fitted. I can go back and revisit some of the projects that you worked on, right? Look at some of the experiences. Which were the ones you enjoyed most? What are the key learnings? How did you interact with the people while you worked on this project? Make a note of all your achievements. Do a bit of going back and making some notes about all this. Then tried to frame your responses using very well known method called Star method. It talks about situation, task, action and result it's a technique to answer questions in three or four steps. So you talk about the situation, what was the problem, what was the thing that you're trying to solve? Then you talk about the task, which is like, what did you do, what was your goal? The last two things are very important actions. What action did you take, what was the thing that you did and what was the result? Focus more on the actions and the result. Quantify your result. You might want to say something like we did this, I did this, and the performance improved. Or this was impact on the customer by rolling out this change. So give concrete description, but not being too verbal. So that's the style of answers that convinced about your achievements. And it helps the interviewer to evaluate whether this is the kind of person I would want in the team or I would want in the company. So the pattern is learn about the company, learn about yourself, prepare some questions, prepare some answers, use the staff technique to answer. And I think that should do. Yeah. Amazing. I think you mentioned that an interview is going to transfer you to see whether somebody is a good fit for the company and also for them to see whether the company is a good fit for them. So I've always been curious if you have as a manager, you have probably an hour or so to spend with a person, which is not that much time. So I was curious whether you have any rules or kind of heuristics around, how you assess if somebody is a good cultural fit for your team or the company. How do you kind of understand that? Maybe you can share something? Missy yeah, that's a very good question because as you know, culture differ from company to company because companies do things different. They have different missions, they work in different domain. But irrespective of all that, all companies look for some positive behavior and trades and candidates. So as an hiring manager, I would be looking for some basic things like we already discussed this. Can the candidates communicate clearly? Can they express their ideas? Because it's very important. When you work together as a team, you should be able to bring forth your idea, discuss with your team members on what you're working or how we should work, et cetera. So you look for that communication and collaboration aspect. Another important thing that we look for is growth mindset. When I talk about growth mindset, it is that tendency or it's that mindset or it's a belief that your intelligence is something that you can develop. People with growth mindset shows passion for learning. You hear examples of them stretching out, sticking to some of their goals, failing and relearning and learning, all those kind of risk taking challenges. These are all talking about growth mindset. This is something which most companies would look in candidates. Can their stories tell that they have a growth mindset. Then you're looking to kind of things like can they work in a chaotic environment? Maybe the team that you are going to be hired in is going through a bit of a change. Can they fit into that? Would they work well under instructions? Would they like to lead? Are they flexible? Are they adaptable? Lots of things like that. Which makes the candidate fit into the culture, the company, or the culture of the team? Again, other things like innovative, how innovative they are, how creative they are. You don't have to be a super innovative person to land in many of the jobs. But if you show small examples of how you solve challenges, have you faced some problems that would help the interviewer to decide? Basic thing that we are trying to understand is what is the environment? What are the characteristics of this person and what's the environment in which they will be more productive? So give your honest answers. We are looking for people with integrity. It doesn't matter if it is different to my opinion, but how we can work together is the element that we are looking for. Does that answer your question? Yeah. That's amazing. Thank you. So I guess that you mentioned one of the mistakes that somebody can do during such an interview is lying or kind of coming up with a fake story to just fit the star technique. Are there any other mistakes that you have seen engineers do during the interviews that make a bad impression on you as the manager? Yeah, I think Alexa said one of them mentioned not asking any questions. So that is kind of a red flag. Most interviews give five minutes or ten minutes towards the end of the interview for you to ask question. Use that time to know more about the team. It shows that you're interested to learn how I work, how the team work. If they don't ask questions, that's a red flag. Mistakes in answering behavioral questions. Sometimes you see people are too general. We want to hear experiences too general, too vague answers, or maybe talking about the theories about giving feedback. That's not what we are looking for. We are looking to hear your experience, how you gave feedback, or how you receive feedback. So give examples from your previous work. Another red flag. Another mistake is people don't tend to share their setbacks. They would like to share the success stories. It's very important that you share your setbacks. If the question is asked about setbacks, share the time. When you fail, then you learn from that failure. That's what's important for us. Sometimes you get replies like, I never made a mistake. That's not possible. Right? It is more about your personality, your resilience. Like I said, growth mindset. That's what interviewers are looking for. It kind of reminded me of when you ask, what is your negative trade? And my only negative trait is that I'm a perfectionist, which is kind of nice. Thank you so much for sharing. Amazing. If any of our other panelists also have had experiences with behavioral interviews, maybe you would like to share something on this topic as well. I think it's not necessarily a behavioral interview specific thing, but it's certainly a behavior. So I think one thing that could be a red flag is giving up. And I've seen it quite a few times. For example, when a candidate doesn't immediately know the answer to the problem, sometimes they might just give up and say, oh, I don't know, can you please just tell me the answer so that we get over it? Again, this is not the exam and we're not here to give perfect answers to questions and get marks, but we're here to work together to crack the problem. And if you imagine that it's a real situation at work, you don't just go to your manager and say, I give up. Can you please give me the answer? No. You've got to work through the problem with your colleagues. You've got to ask for help. But you can't just sit and say, oh, no, I'm not going to do this anymore because I don't know. Cool plus one to that what Alex said. I just wanted to share this small thing like, you know, some of the questions, like have interesting answers. Like this question, tell me a time when you are bored at work. Don't tell about that time when you are totally bored at work and didn't do anything. That doesn't really go very well. Don't be a problem. Bringer be a problem solver. You can talk about the time when you're bored at work. You didn't have anything to work in your team, but you reached out to another team and worked with them. Or maybe you learned something new. So when you answer your questions, you want to bring the best talk of you. So frame your answers. That brings the best element. Think through these questions before attending the interview. I think Minty, what you said was amazing. It's very much what a lot of the cultural interviews are tailored towards. And I think from working in many different companies, I think the one common theme that I've seen companies do is assess candidates against the values of the company. So I really would stress people reviewing and making sure that those values are aligned firstly with your values before you apply. And then when you're interviewing, in addition to getting sort of a successful document with all your answers and then try and align them with the company's values as well. Amazing. Thanks so much for sharing to kind of circle back and maybe to start closing down the discussion a little bit, I wanted to ask all of our panelists to share if you have any memorable stories from the time and interview and just something in your years of interviewing. So something that stuck in your memory, something may be incredibly impressive that somebody did or maybe something maybe a mistake that you saw somebody make that kind of cost them their job or something like that. And obviously we're discussing this not to kind of smoke anybody or do anything like that, but kind of to learn, because I think that sometimes people make mistakes without realizing it, and some of those mistakes can be really costly, especially if you need a job urgently in kind of your life. Maybe it depends on it. So do you have anything in your experience as a recruiter perhaps you would like to share? Oh, wow. I was going to talk about Nadia, I hope you don't mind. When we first met. Is that okay? Is that okay for me to talk about? Yeah, sure. It's a good story. So Nadia applied to intercom, and I reached out going, Why? Nadia is amazing. And a week had passed and I hadn't heard back. So I went to check and follow up, and I realized that the email was missing a letter. So Maddie never knew about me, never knew about him to come getting in touch with her. So I reached back out again and we eventually spoke, I think it was the day later. But Nadia had progressed significantly in other processes, so we had majorly tight turn around. And Nadia was just very honest, which is I loved when we worked together to get you through the process. She was very clear and communicated really well. So we were able to move really fast and make a lot of changes to get Nadi in the process. I'm so happy that she's with us. One tip is don't be afraid to tell the recruiter that you've got some urgent deadlines and they can change things to make things work for you. If they want you to join the company, they can make it work. So don't be afraid. America starts kind of like a blast from the past. It's been almost a year now. Amazing. Serena, would you like to share something? Yeah, I think I have great stories and also I have a good and a bad. A bed was once it happened to me that I was with one of my male colleagues. We were both interviewing a candidate, and it was a guy, and he was literally only asking or talking to my male colleague, which was obviously a red flag in itself. And this person didn't get hired. So it's more like to take this out forever again. This concept of treat everyone with respect, clearly that's fun. And then my best stories are the ones where I have interviews with I laugh. The collaborative problem solving we do, an intercom or the mini comp sessions we do. And when someone is super nervous and I can bring them to ease right. I can almost collaborate with them. And almost if they have fun at me, well, maybe fun is a bit of a wide work, but they feel much more at ease. You can sense that they were super nervous at the beginning of an interview, but at the end they actually had a great session and they felt like, hey, this went well. I feel like this makes my day. As an interviewer as well. Amazing. What do you think about it? Do you have any stories that you. Would say yes, similar to what Serena was saying? Every interview I look forward to learn something from the candidate. And I had this experience. I once interviewed a candidate who had profound hearing loss. He had a sign language interpreter with him. And when I started the interview, I realized I was talking a lot faster. So I slowed down and I was keeping eye contact with that person, not with a candidate. So I quickly changed that. Again, things like explaining technical terms in sign language is difficult. I realized quickly in that interview they have to go letter by letter because there is no current sign language for something like cash. Maybe it has changed now, but again, there's a lot the interviewer learns from the candidate in that process. And I love that. Another story and the funny story. We had a fire alarm going on while we were improving a candidate and we all had to back with the building. When we came back, we couldn't find a candidate and we thought he left, but he was in the wrong meeting room anyway. Amazing. It's really funny. Alex, what about you? Does anything come to mind? Absolutely. And trying to kind of continue the interview from a coffee shop nearby. Yeah, that's funny. I remember a funny interview and I wasn't the interviewer. I was actually the candidate. And it was a few years ago, but I was going through a technical interview and I was asked to write a Quick Sort and I wrote a Quick Sort algorithm on the whiteboard and I was adding comments and I was trying to make it as readable as possible because you guys are familiar with Quick Sort. You can write it in a very laconic way, but it will be very hard to read. So I tried to make it as obvious for the review as possible. And the person who was interviewing me, they looked at my solution and it was like, yeah, I think this algorithm would work, but this is the longest clicks I've ever seen in my life. I was invited for another round of interviews. I didn't go, but I think the lesson here is be kind and yes, treat each other with respect. You're not there regardless of on the side that you're on. You're not there to show off your talents. You're not there to show off your knowledge. You are there to try to connect with people at the company. And I had a candidate who I was interviewing and they were a very quantity research candidate and my interview is mostly technical and algorithmic, and I was aware of that, and I was kind of trying to make the candidate more comfortable because it's just a part of the process, right? If someone does badly in one interview, which is not really their specialty, that might not be critical for the process at all. But the candidate was getting defensive, and at the end of the interview, they went like, okay, so you asked me a question that I wasn't really good at. Now let me ask you a question. And I thought that they were going to ask me about my role, you know, all the usual jobs about the company, but they actually asked me a question about financial maths, and I was like, what is going on? That was really funny. But clearly it's not a fit because if the person cannot accept that they don't know something or again, I'm not ready to collaborate with me. This is not the right fit with our environment. So, yeah, be kind, don't get defensive, treat each other with respect and have fun. I guess that person took the advice of interviewing the interviewer. Yeah, kind of circle closing this down. Do you have any tips for engineers who are looking for jobs right now? Maybe their first jobs or their second or third jobs right now? Maybe something specific to the current economic climate, maybe something has changed overall and how now that the tech market is not so overheated as it was with layoffs and all the stuff that's happening. Just to close the conversation down, maybe you'd like to share some tips that would help engineers looking for jobs right now. Sarah, would you like to start? Yeah, sure. I think it's always good to ask organizations how they are reacting to the current economic situation because it gives you a good picture of what they're doing internally and how they're supporting their employees. So that's a good one. I would also encourage people to ask about how managers and teams support psychological safety as well, so you feel comfortable sharing your personal if you want to share personal scenarios in relation to the economic climate. And again, echoing a lot of what Alex and Mindsey and Serena has said, it's a two way street, so be prepared, have your questions because you're going to be spending a lot of time with these people and you want to make sure that they're the right fit for you and your career is so important. So, yeah, ask lots and lots of questions. It's always relevant advice, I think. Mince, would you like to answer as well? Yeah. Explore the current trends in industry. Thought works as a tech radar, which tells you what are the trending technology framework, tools, et cetera. Have a look at that. Also, if you're interested in applying for companies, the engineering blocks of companies are treasure drops. They will give you insight into what's important for the company, what things are worth from the company, go and read them. Ask for meeting some of your team members before they interview. There's lots of network events happening throughout, most of them are online, which is convenient, but you can also reach out to the recruiter and if you feel like you want it will help you in preparation. Ask for some time with the engineering manager or one of your colleagues so you can kind of understand how to work with them and what kind of things that you can expect to come up in the interview. Yeah, do your homework. It's very important that, as Sarah said, it's a mutual fit that you decide on these 5 hours during the interview, but you can also do some work beforehand and that'll help you choose the right place. What do you think about it, Alex? Do you have any other tips like parts and tasks to our early stores? I would say maybe try to tap into your network a little bit. If you see maybe some of the people that you used to work with or study with, work at any company that might be a good fit for you, maybe ask them to kind of help you apply to refer you to the company. Quite often people who do referrals get referral bonuses if it all works out in the end. So yeah, tap into your network. Also put effort into building up your network as well. Connect with people, meet people in the industry, talk to them. Yeah, I think again, I just want to reiterate practice and do mocks. I know that some people prefer a more structured learning approach, but for me personally, unless I practice, unless I get this experience, this first hand experience, I'm not going to do well. Yeah. Serena, would you like to add some tips as well? Yeah, also don't get bogged down by rejections. Right? Like rejection isn't the end of the world. I think also to apply again after half a year or so, some of the smartest people I know have been first rejected and then came back to the place and have been promoted to the ranks over the years. So it's like don't take a rejection as an end of all or something like this. And then if you worked on open source, I know obviously this is all dependent on your personal situation or you have side projects or anything or talks or any extracurriculars you take part. Don't hesitate to mention it in your CV, I guess, or in the behavioral interviews if there is a question that way it fits. That's a good one as well and they help as well. I totally agree with Alex on the network building side of things and tapping into your network. Again. Amazing. Thank you all so much. We have a bunch of questions so I'll just jump right into them. Okay, so, question for Sarah, do you have any tips for optimizing resume to get past the ATS screening software? Yes. We don't have one in Intercom, so I can only speak for Intercom. So it's just us humans reviewing the resumes. But try and look at keywords that are highlighted in the job application or in the actual advert. That will help. I can't speak for other companies, unfortunately. Question about behavioral injury. So I think Minsy will be best to answer it. If you have no experience, how do you answer the behavioral questions that ask about your experience? Very good question. Be honest. If you've been asked to explain a situation where you work in a difficult situation, you could say, I never worked in a difficult situation, but you could share some of your experience to me. University where you work on your final year project or something, all are equally valid. Like I said, we are looking at you as a person and your characters in all these examples doesn't matter whether it's from your uni or maybe some other initiative you are part of or maybe a volunteering experience, they are all equally good if you can explain it to your individual. So don't worry about industry experience as such. If you are a pressure, you are a pressure in your past experience from your learning or schools, university, that would count. We would change the questions to each level. So the questions that we ask an experienced engineer won't be the questions that a fresh graduate would get. Amazing. Thank you so much. Another question for Sarah. Do you recruiters actually look at GitHub and personal portfolio of the candidate? Yes. I know that some recruiters have done I haven't done personally, but I know that others do. Thank you. Another question. I'm not completely sure I understand that. If the interviewer asked me to tell him or her about myself, how should I approach this question without saying personal things about myself? Could the author in the background maybe and explain what you meant? Because I'm not sure I understand it. Okay. What I meant was you get asked, okay, tell me about yourself. What should you tell? That's actually the question. What should you tell that it's actually. Necessary because you could say, Tell me about yourself, and I keep telling you everything I know about myself from bed. So that's how okay. Can you tell? Yeah. Yeah. So thanks so much. So I think it's more it's also restaurant service is kind of an initial conversation where we usually ask to tell about yourself. Yeah. I think it depends on firstly, if you're with, say, someone in the engineering team, they probably want to know a little bit about your background and your experience with the recruiter. They probably want to know a little bit more, like throughout your whole career. But don't be afraid to ask. You can ask them and say, do you want to know personal? Do you want to know professional? And then that way you can kind of summarize what you want to share. Thank you. Sometimes I ask this question in my interview, but a good place to start, a little tip, I would say maybe tell me about what you're working on right now, what your current project is about, what you find the most challenging about it. It's already a good start and I will probably ask some more questions. And here we have a nice conversation. I see we have a couple of questions about career changers and people without tech degrees. So Frank asks, I'm in my career change process and I would be facing for tech interview for the first time what to expect. I didn't hear from the recruiters when they found out I don't have a degree on how to deal with it. And another question may be somewhat related. As a software developer with no degree, is it necessary to get some CS foundations before tackling lead code books for technical interview preparation? Maybe two parts to it. Maybe some of the engineers would like to talk about kind of preparation for the technical interviews without having a CS degree. I would say that you don't have to have a CS degree, but you can try to add a couple of projects into your portfolio and this could be a little personal projects that you do in your spare time. It doesn't have to be anything. It doesn't have to be a work thing, but just something to show us that you've mastered a certain piece of technology or you've actually seen some project through to the very end. I think it could be very useful. One example which it's a very old example because I like it a lot, there was a lady who wanted to learn website design and she wasn't a programmer or she wasn't a website engineer, but she committed to building one little website a day for 180 days in a row and she put it online. I can't remember her name, but I think if you Google just I remember. It was 100 sites and 100 days. Yeah, something like that. Personally, when I found out about it, I found it really impressive. And if let's say I had a candidate who I am interviewing and they had a project like that, I would certainly be very excited about it and I would like to learn more about it. And I would count it as a very good experience to try to work on your personal project portfolio a little bit. That would be my advice. We have so many questions, so I like this one. My question is, I've faced a challenge in job seeking when juniors are supposed to have one plus years of experience. Is it just a recent trend in the market? What do you feel? I think anybody can answer. If you have thoughts on this, like hiring juniors in general. I always recommend if in doubt, apply. You never know what's out there. There might be another opening in a different team. So take a bet and apply. Thank you. It's going to ask for people with anxiety. Who wants to be honest about their anxiety when they experience during the interview. This is a good one. I have that as well by myself. Like, I would be totally terrified, guys, I think you should and you could say you're very nervous or something like this, and then the interviewer it's always better to be open and honest and vulnerable because we're here to help. The interviewer isn't your enemy. They're supposed to be your colleague eventually, hopefully. Hard to say you're nervous and yeah, I think someone else gave a really good thing as well. If you practice more, it gets more comfortable. But of course there will be always a baseline anxiety and I think to be vulnerable and open about it is not never a bad thing. I wanted to say what Sarah said. If you're not feeling well, feel free to reach out to your recruiter and cancel it and reschedule it on the day of the interview view. If you're a bit anxious, feel free to share with the interviewer because the interviewer wants to bring the best out of you and you should be able to participate with a clear mind and make sure you share your concern. If you want to get a glass of water in between interviews, do that. It's okay. I think people will understand. Yeah. This is two interesting questions. What are some red flags for candidates that they should look out for when interviewing? And also, do you have any advice for how to negotiate salaries? I think with what Alex said earlier, if they don't treat you with respect, it's probably not nice to go through an interview through process like that and that's a reflection on the company. So hopefully you don't ever have the interview where you have a red flag from somebody on the other side and then to negotiate salaries. I think ask because the recruiter is always the first port of call. Ask the recruiter what's the salary for this role? You don't have to share what your salary is because most companies have salaries specifically linked to the role and what you're going to be doing. Thank you. Interesting question. Is it considered a red flag today if I request a virtual interview instead of an in person one due to the fear of covet? It's fine. All our interviews in InterCommerce are still virtual. I haven't had a proper and I'm in the office. Like, this is my personal choice, guys, that I'm back in the office most days but I haven't had in person. I think after two years, companies should be able to do virtual interviews. Our interviews are virtual as well. However, I think a good question to ask either your recruiter or the company is what is expected of you in terms of being in the office versus working remotely? Because some companies are very flexible and they could allow you to work remotely should you be successful as a candidate and accept the offer. But some companies will actually require you to be in the office for at least a few days a week. And if you're not comfortable if you realize that you are not comfortable with coming into the office and working with a lot of other people in person, then that might not be the right place for you to apply. So I think that's something to consider and maybe chat to an HR person about it. A question from Larry how to encourage more women into the program in the field. I have female friends, some who are in Stanford who tried one or two programming classes but thought it was too difficult and then quit. But I think they have a good analytical and problem solving skills and would be great programmers would like to share. Sometimes there are some amazing gamifications of like exorcism. I don't know if you heard about this. I find this is great. Like it's not like lead code. It's a little bit much more mentor based. I sent you the link there in the track. Or I tried to find some more links, like just some gamification. Things could be fun where you get some kind of success or like an achievement and then obviously networking. Right? Like talking with someone who does the job, network with someone who is a programmer for a couple of years or who just started last week is super helpful. I would suggest trying to like a general advice. If you want to get into programming, maybe try to find a mentor or try to find the role model to look up to. It doesn't have to be a formal arrangement when you meet someone weekly or monthly, but reach out to people who seem inspiring to you and I don't know, ask them out for coffee or something. I think that it's difficult. As a woman in Stem, I find it difficult to kind of progress in the field because of the lack of the role models. For example, if you look at the various senior management positions, very few of them are women. So it is discouraging a little bit. So it's important to try and find these mentors. To try and reach out to these people. Might help you overcome this well, it might help you overcome the struggle and inspire you a little bit and help you regain motivation. Yeah, I would add to that and start with very simple basic things because that will help you to build up, like I said earlier, start with something like a simple problems in lead code or maybe a simple HTML code or simple JavaScript. Slowly build up your expertise in the area where you want to work. Small projects or even better, if we can get into some open source projects, maybe initially as not a key contributor or anyone like that, but be part of the community, follow the discussions, understand what is happening and then you can pick up pace when you are ready. So starting with something very simple is the key. If you try to solve a very complex problem in the beginning, that might discourage you and you might find it very hard. And I like the idea of what Alex said. Reaching how to some mentors, hearing first hand experience is how their career was when they started will help. Yeah, networking, I think it's powerful and this is one of the great things about women who code and can we just like it. So there is another question. Applying for jobs can be daunting if you feel that you don't qualify for the job. So what would you recommend to someone in this situation? I would say apply anyway because it's good practice. What's the worst that can happen? You will just not get progressed to the next stage. Yeah, just do it because it gives you good practice. No matter how far, how far into the process you get with each subsequent interview, you learn something new and you get better. Yeah. Sorry. Would you like to go sale now? Plus one to this as well? Some friends of mine said to me at some stage when I was super anxious around interviewing, I should interview where I don't want to get the job just as an exercise. It's probably not maybe the best approach, but it's like this. I think women have this as well that we see like a list of requirements and we want to hit 100%. I think there is this kind of research around that men apply when they hit 60 or 70% and women have to hit all just go for it, go for it, there's nothing to lose. Yeah, same thing. Apply for the jobs that you think is relevant to you. Sometimes you don't get it or you're turned away not because of the fault of you, but maybe for other reasons. Maybe the job is already filled or maybe they're looking for some other candidates, maybe less experienced or more experienced or different experience than you. So if you get a rejection, don't take it as a failure on you. It's more like it wasn't a fit. Right. It shouldn't stop you from applying for the next road. The more interviews you give, the more interviews you do, more experience you become. And when the right job comes, you'll get through. So keep applying. Amazing. I think we have time for maybe one or two questions. I'm not sure if we have any calls and comments planned. So how important is it to include code comments in your codes in the tech portion of the interview? So basically how important is it to comment your code solutions? I would say that the structure of the code and the descriptive names is more important. Be reasonable. You don't have to comment for every single line of code. But if there is something very non obvious going on, you might want to add a quick clarification what you're doing there. I think in my experience, interviewing. One. Very common mistake that a lot of people do is just calling their variables ABCD, whatever, it's not readable at all and it doesn't require a lot of effort to at least try to come up with some descriptive variable names. There are some questions about cooldown periods and companies, if you apply and you fail right, and we talk about kind of reapplying, so should you wait until you're very well prepared to reapply? And I guess how long do you wait? There are legal limits, how often you can apply. But also maybe some other tips, how to deal with being rejected and want to reply again. I think most companies have six months as a cool off period, but keep in touch with your recruiter or as much as you can because they'll be the ones that will know what roles are coming up and they could put you into the process again. For example, if you only failed one piece of the interview process, you might only have to do that one piece for the next time. So it's definitely worth keeping in touch. All right. I just want to add one thing. Most companies would give the feedback, ask explicitly for the feedback. Some companies don't share, but most of the companies do. The feedback will give you an idea of why it wasn't successful and then you can fill the gaps and come back and apply after the cooling period. Amazing. Thank you. We have two more minutes, so maybe somebody has one last question to end with a bank. Let's get one last what advice do you have for older worker changing career into the tech field? It seems that there is unspoken age limit in the tech industry, how to deal with ageism. And we have 1 minute for this question. Sorry, sir, go ahead. No, I was just going to say I know we're out of time, but have a look for programs that have career changers, specifically for women who are entering into tech, because a lot of your skills will be extremely valuable and transferable. So that could be a really good way to transfer in a quick fashion rather than applying constantly. Thank you. He Interrupts You Serena. Sorry. No, that's exactly same thing. Yeah, that's exactly the program. I can't remember the program we use or the name of it. I tried to find it there right now. Googling like crazy. Sorry, guys, but yeah, if you Google for their slots out there. Amazing. Yeah. Thank you so much. We're almost out of time. Thank you everybody for joining and thank you panelists, for answering any questions. It was an amazing event. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Bye. Thank you. Bye.