Your engineer coworkers have to go through the same interview you do
Software engineering interviews can be hard. Like crawl home crying and drink a hot chocolate hard.
There’s nothing quite like the experience of writing code on a white board, or a text editor, getting halfway through a problem and thinking to yourself, “Aahhhh……what now?” With an interviewer sitting behind you tapping a pencil watching you struggle (side note, are interviewers heartless?)
It’s painful, sometimes humiliating, and it makes many of us engineers wonder if there’s an easier way. Shouldn’t there be a simpler way to get hired at a job that doesn’t involve all of the stress?
And my answer is very probably yes. But I haven’t heard of anyone finding it yet, so we’re stuck with the stressful approach for now. And that might not be all bad.
It wasn’t until I’d been in the workforce for 10 years before it hit me that your coworkers have to go through the same interview process you do.
My first job out of college the interview was super easy. I got asked a couple logic questions (“if a = b, and b + c = d, then…..”) and some emotion based questions about my college career (“how did you like intro to programming?”). And then I got the job offer.
I was ecstatic! It was my first job out of college, I had been so nervous. I had gotten help picking out my suit, I had stressed and stressed over it. And in the end it was incredibly easy.
But you know who I worked with at that job? A mix of
- Absolute geniuses who liked the low stress environment
- People who would struggle to pass a job interview anywhere else
My second job interview wasn’t much more stressful. I got asked to describe my previous work experience in general terms and to talk about a college project. Then I got asked how I deal with stress at work and some other behavioral based questions. And you know who I worked with at that next job? A mix of
- Absolute geniuses
- People who would struggle to pass a more rigorous technical interview
It was at this job that I got involved in hiring and interviewing. And I happily conducted similar interviews. Until I made an absolute disaster of a hiring decision. The interview was cut short (scheduling snafoo) so I didn’t get to ask all of my questions. The candidate struggled from day 1, and eventually parted ways with the company.
That was when it hit me, “Maybe it’s ok for interviews to be kinda hard.”
At my third job I had a grueling interview. It was 4 coding challenges, 5 rounds of behavioral interviews, and at the end I was exhausted. My wife tried to talk to me and got unrelated rambling answers to questions. It was intense. But you know who I worked with at that job?
- Absolute geniuses
Or at least people who were able to pass long, grueling technical interviews. And solve hard technical problems.
All that to say keep in mind that your coworkers have to pass the same hiring bar you do. If you sail through and there’s no challenge, you’ll work with at least some people who can only work at that bar. If your pushed and challenge, you’ll work with people who can work at that bar. Don’t be scared off by hard interviews, they give you an indicator of what your future coworkers will be like!