Mistakes you make in an interview

No.. currently not looking for a job so don’t ask.

But after a few years mothballed, my team is currently hiring again. After many years, I am finally talking to people who wants to switch careers. I have always looked forward to talking to candidates during interview because it gives me perspective into the what other’s are thinking when it comes to literally their bread and butter. People switch careers for many reasons, mostly for money. What makes the session interesting is that I have to interview people who are supposed to be in the peak of the careers. These are seniors, the gurus and mentors of their companies. These are the people who have 10 years of service in their pocket and can tell you the historical progression of a particular video compression technologies that has happened in the past 20 years. These are the people who are so deep into one area of technologies that they basically can recite standard specification from memory.

Basically, they are coming to interview for a position that would put themselves in a position where money matters less than their personal self worth (read.. ego).

As I talk to them, some over the phone some face to face, a pattern emerges. A lot of the experience that they carry to the interview is created during the whole career life. A simple task they did 10 years ago, affected what they can offer themselves today.

#1: You are not One, but many

After reading the job description talking about an area that they have worked on for 10 years, they come to the interview as if they are the saviour of the group. They feel like we need to hire him so that he can guide the rest of the people and build up the team.. just because he has been there for 10 years. He comes to the interview thinking that we are a new team looking for a senior / staff / principle architect / guru / hero to build us up. Normally you can feel a subtle ego in the air. Normally that air will burst when we tell them that the team has been around for 15 years. This will usually result in them asking “why have he not heard about us”? Conversation gets little awkward after he finds out that the value of what he has to offer is diminishing.

I feel that sometimes it is better to go in humble and learn as much as you can in the interview. I always see the interview as a 2-way conversation, for both of us to know each other better.

#2 We may be US Company, but in a low cost geo

I have had some candidates that come over to ask for expected salary in USD.  We are based in Malaysia, it is easier for us to calculate if you say it in RM. Not like any of us are being paid in USD. Similar to #1, if you come thinking that you want a US package, well get in line. We have more senior folks who are waiting to get relocated too, why should we send you first?

Also, look at the salary as an increment from what you have. If the company offers you 20% on top of what you currently earn, that is 20% increment for you. Never go looking at the company and judge how much they can “afford” you. You may be worth a lot, but sometimes not that much

#3 Years of Service is relative

I have people coming in saying that they have been working in company x for 3 years and he feels that he needs a change because 3 years is a long time. You feel it is time for a change after 3 years in the same company. If you are asking for sympathy, you get none. Most of the time, the hiring managers have worked in a company more than 10 years. They wont’s say they are bored after 10 years.. no one is going to entertain your whines about 3 year itch.

#4 Jump for the career and money

I have a few people who jump companies multiple times because they get major increments when they jump company to company. All good only for a while, most of them do not change the type of job they do. So essentially when they jump companies, they just do the same work for more money. This will catch up ultimately when you are paid too much for the work that you do and ultimately lose out on a better opportunity because you had not caught up with your seniority. It matters that your work needs to match up with the years of experience. We do not expect you to be doing a job that a junior engineer can do when you have 10 years in your belt.