The Problem With Job Interviews

Check out this article by TechCrunch’s Jon Evans: The Terrible Technical Interview

The the tech interview is terrible?


I remember going to an interview, after a two day training for job seekers, and thinking “did the interviewer prepare in any way for this interview?”  It was horrible. It was embarrassing (for the interviewer).  It was a waste of time.

I remember the interviewer reading questions from a printout (thanks Google, five minutes before our interview!), and not really listening to the answers.  No eye contact, just reading the next question, then the next question.

An interview is not a checklist task to just get through the questions… it should be an engaging time to figure out if the person can do the job and will fit nicely into the culture of the company/team.  But somehow we haven’t figured this out very well.

We let things… discrimination and stereotyping… get in the way of the job search interview.  Sometimes how a person looks, or what they where, or how charming their smile is, will trump how anyone responds.  I’ve seen this in real life.

Jon proposes that the format of a programmer’s interview is scrapped, and they are tested with real situations to solve… kind of like puzzles, from the work environment.  I read Jon’s proposal and think “wow, that sounds intense….!”  But here’s the line that really caught me:

“Now, this does require one huge prerequisite: every candidate must have a side project that they wrote, all by themselves, to serve as their calling card.”

A side project… their calling card.  In the creative world this might be considered your portfolio.

Whatever you call it, I totally agree with Jon.  What can you point to that you have done/accomplished/figured out?

This becomes part of your personal brand messaging.  Swap spots at the interview table for a minute and image that you have 10 final resumes in front of you… and they all look kind of the same.  They all have similar education, similar years of experience, similar titles at similarly impressive companies… they all look great, but none really stand out.

Except one.

The one who has had a side project, and talks about it.  Perhaps there is a website or blog where you can learn more about this person or their side project.  Where the other 9 resumes are just names on resumes, with nothing else to distinguish them, this person’s resume stands out because you read a few blog posts, and saw pictures, and got caught up in the stories.  You read about their project and realized that they have skills and experience that didn’t quite come across in the resume.

You learned about their portfolio because they had one.

Jon has a lot of great points, but this one stuck out the most.

What’s in your portfolio?  What are your side projects that you can point to?