June 27, 2010
Part 2 is focused on the interview process of job hunting. The anticipation of an interview can be excruciatingly nerve-wracking, especially if you’re generally afraid of people and haven’t interviewed in 4 years like myself. I knew that it was going to be a rough start, so some of my methods were planned out with that thought in mind.
1. Go on as many interviews as you can, at first.
Even if you have a good idea what you’re looking for, just go on as many interviews as you can. For my first interview, it was the first one in 4 years and it scared the crap out of me. Since I was so nervous and I wasn’t getting interviews at companies that I wanted to work for yet, I saw it as an opportunity to practice. If I screwed up talking with a company that I didn’t really care about initially, the worst thing that would happen is that I’m rejected by something that I didn’t want in the first place. These initial interviews really helped me figure out what I wanted and didn’t want. Be cautious though. After a few months of interviewing, only take the interviews that you want unless you’re desperate. You might end up taking a job you don’t want out of desperation and in turn, just settling. At the same time, be realistic. If you’ve had you’re resume out there for a few months and haven’t had any bites, it might be time to re evaluate and take a job that you can get to gain some more experience and develop your portfolio.
2. Be prepared, but not too prepared.
I’ve gotten the question many times of or a variation of “What do you know about our company?” or “Which of our projects do you like? And why?”. So it’s extremely important that you don’t fail these. I think it’s best to make sure that you know basically what the company is about as well as their most recent/most high-profile projects. No one expects that you know their entire portfolio inside-out. On the other side, when you’re too prepared, you forget to ask important question since you already know the answers. Asking questions is an important part of the interview, so make sure that you have some to ask, even if you know the answers. The interviewer wants you to be curious about what they do, while a the same time, they generally like to talk about themselves and sell their company to you.
3. Don’t be afraid to write your questions down.
Every interview I go on, I have an index card of questions that I’ve thought of before the interview and I usually keep in in my pocket. When they ask if I have any questions and I pull that baby out, more times than not, they’ve been impressed that I came prepared and have been thinking about the job and am taking it seriously. Of the 5 or so jobs I’ve been offered over the months that I was interviewing, the cards came out every time. For me, it’s not just a gimmick either. I never remember everything that I want to ask, so I keep it written down. It works for me. It also gives your nervous nilly fingers something to fumble with.
4. Dress appropriately.
This point is important, but not really anything to worry too much about. The goal going in is to show that you have respect for the company, showing your personality, while also being aware of the company’s culture. Again, it’s not worth worrying yourself too much about it. It’s easy to freak out about what to wear for an interview, but in the end, the interviewer won’t remember what your goofy shoes looked like (unless that’s what you’re going for) or that the crease in your pants was too crisp. As long as your clothes are clean and you gave ironing the good ol’ college try, you should be good. I also tend to think that overdressing is as big of a mistake as underdressing. My default “outfit” is decent jeans, ironed button down shirt, blazer (sometimes), and black shoes. Also, don’t be afraid to give the interviewer a peak of what you’re about. Showing them that you have a personality is a plus.
5. Don’t lie (outright).
During the interview, there’s a good chance that you’ll be asked a question that you just don’t have an answer for. The best thing to do is to just be honest about it and not start lying. This is also another opportunity to learn something so that you’re prepared for your next interview. Take note of the question asked and make sure you have an answer next time Problem solved. If you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll do that anyway. There’s nothing worse than barely surviving a tough question by lying (thinking that you were giving them the answer that they were looking for) only to be asked a follow up question. The other thing you can do is start asking questions back in order to learn about the question being asked. You might just get the answer from them that they were looking for.
At the same time, I think it’s OK to exaggerate a little. If you’re asked about a specific framework, technique, or software that you’re aware of but don’t know it well or used it extensively, but at the same time know it will possibly help get the job, I think it’s alright to say that you know it. The caveat is that you should go home and try to get to know it better so that if you do get hired and asked to do some Papervision 3D or something for them that you can pull it off and not look like a big dummy.
6. Remember to write a thank-you letter.
This is pretty self explanatory. It’s just another opportunity to let the interviewer know that you’re excited about the opportunity of working with them and that you’re really into what they do. The problem I always have is remembering everybody’s name if you met multiple people in my interview. In that instance, I usually end up writing directly to the person that I set up the interview with and telling them something like “it was great to meet you and your team”. Who doesn’t like a team-oriented candidate?
7. Link In
After an interview, especially if it went well, I like to look the interviewer up on Linked In and request to connect to them. I usually save this move until I’ve had more than one conversation with them and or after I’ve been offered a position (regardless of if I accept or not). This can be a bit of a ballsy move, so only do that if you’re certain that it went well and that they are truly someone that you would like to work with later on in your career. You don’t want to be too presumptuous. In addition, it could be good for a future employer to see that you’re linked in with other “important” people in the industry.
8. Leave on a good note
I’ve had good interviews and I’ve had shitty interviews. The one thing that I made sure to do was to leave on a good note though. I’ve even had job offers fall though (as a result of poor communication on their end) and gotten completely screwed, but kept my emails cordial and up beat. The industry is small enough and you never know who you’ll work with in the future, so it’s best not to burn bridges before they even exist.
9. Don’t beat yourself up after the interview.
It’s easy to pick apart the entire interview after it’s over, but when it comes down to it, what’s done is done. If you feel like you answered questions poorly, call it a learning experience and be sure that you have a better answer next time it’s asked. Though there’s also a good chance that the answer wasn’t as dreadful as you made it out to be in your head. It’s really not worth losing sleep over. I’ve lost sleep over what I though was a bad interview and was offered the job the following week. As long as you’ve showed them what you’re about and that you’re capable to do the job well and wasn’t a dick, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. If they don’t pick you, then it might not be a job that you want in the end anyway. There are always other jobs in this industry.
That’s it for now. If you missed it, Check out Part 1 to for tips on getting the interview. Part 3 will about other random aspects of flash dev job hunting such as what to put together for Code Samples and rejecting a job offer. If you have any questions or anything to add, let me know in the comments below. Good luck.