Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ruby on Rails Interviewing (Part 2)

I was SO naive at interviews and the whole interviewing process as I walked into my 2nd interview which was with a really cool company in D.C. that I was dying to get hired by.

The hopes of getting hired quickly faded as the lady interviewing me started off like a cop that has just pulled you over for speeding: "So Mr. Kemp, you say you know Ruby on Rails and front end development... is that correct?" This was to be my first glimpse of how recruiters mainly don't care about you, they care about selling you as an attractive candidate to companies whether or not that involves telling the company you are something you are not.

The interview went downhill pretty quickly after that as I tried to explain: " Well I have "roughly" 1 year of RoR experience, and I know some HTML/CSS, but I wouldn't call myself a front end developer. I'm a looking for a junior level position, where I can contribute to the team and also learn and grow."

The lady responded in a voice that sounded like sand paper and every word was spoken with a staccato emphasis: "This position requires a MINIMUM of 3 years experience, we were HOPING for a mid level developer, do you think YOU fit that job description?

Needless to say the next 10 minutes were spent with me trying to say that no I didn't fit the description, BUT that I thought I was clear in my resume that I was looking for a junior position and was flexible on the salary and really just wanted an opportunity and that I would work my butt off to learn.  I also said I thought my blog could back up my determination.

"Blog? What blog???" she responded. Whoops some people think working hard, studying every night, and writing a blog are great and should be talked about in an interview...other people who interview you (like I just found out) think a blog is a fun hobby but really has NOTHING to do with anything about getting hired at company x.

I think she tried not to roll her eyes, and in all honesty, she was very professional just not very personable. She wished me well and assured me that I would be getting a call from the technical manager soon. That was 3 months ago, I guess she forgot :-)

That was not the only time recruiters would try and set me up. I met with one recruiter at a VERY well known and respected company that I am sure you would recognize the name if I mentioned it here. After talking for a while and doing a phone screen with a client she represented, her phone 'dinged' she said "Oh, excuse me for just one second." A second later she says in a very pleasant voice "You know I have another GREAT opportunity with an awesome company in Leesburg that wants a senior developer, that pays pretty well, what do you think about that?"

After picking up my jaw from off the floor, I said: "Wait, remember I said I have ONE year of RoR experience, that's NOT a senior developer, I'm looking for a good fit as a Junior developer.' The recruiter responded with: "Well, I don't think that should be a problem, I think "senior" is a loosely held term in the industry, no one expects you to know EVERYTHING. It couldn't hurt to try an interview right???"

I very politely declined and left but I decided right then and there that I would not be interviewing for any jobs that she sent me from then on unless the job description CLEARLY said "junior position".
I was again at a VERY low point on the "interview frontier journey". I thought to myself as I left: "What EXACTLY do companies expect you to know as a junior developer? Am I just wasting my whole Summer interviewing for jobs that I will never get?"

Thankfully you know there is a happy ending to my story and I learned a lot from all those "bad" interviews that helped me know what I was looking for and what a good fit for me would be.

More to come on the interviewing home front. Right now I am totally psyched to be 3/4 of the way done with writing my book, I will let you know more as time goes on. I promise not to do too many shameless plug ins for the book, I really want my blog to be about transparency and helping others and not about selling.