Relay #70, Panel F

don't just know technology, understand it

Friday, October 20, 2006

Snagging a tech job: The interterview

Much has been written about winning over interviewers and snatching up that prized position in the company of the month. It's with that backdrop that I've decided to add my 0.02c. You can't have too much of a good thing.

Wear a goddamn jacket
There's a reason I put this one first. No single article of clothing or accessory wreaks of more professionalism than a tailored jacket. Buy, beg, borrow or steal, but never show up for an interview without that most important piece of garment making up your ensemble. I've been on interview panels where the only person considered was the person wearing a jacket. Was he saying anything that wasn't being said by other candidates? Perhaps; but nothing so exemplary that it would have secured his position. What made the difference is that this candidate had "management material", "upward mobility", and "forward thinking" written all over him, simply because of a treed like, navy blue blazer. The clothes makes the man.

Don't act like you're Superman
The average interviewer isn't dumb and isn't easily swayed. They're able to reason and they know that everyone has faults. Nothing is more irritating that someone who tries to come off as being the best thing since sliced hard dough bread when everyone knows that there's no such thing (sliced hard dough bread is the eight wonder of the world). It's irritating simply because you're now leaving it to the interviewer to try and figure out what exactly your faults are. You would save a lot of time and effort if you're just upfront about what you can do, what you can't do and what can be reasonably expected of you on the job.

Don't tell the interviewer that you can code in .NET for hours on end without any need for food, sleep or conjugal visits. Instead, let it be known that after staring at a computer screen for a few hours you start to zone out and you need a 20 minute respite. Not only will this put the interviewer's mind at ease in terms of trying to figure out what issues to expect from you, but it also means that if you're seen walking around the halls for no apparent reason the first thought in your superior's head is that you just ran a marathon on that security module you're designing, and that makes everyone happy.

Know what's expected and say it
This is speaking to what you're gonna have to do in this new job to keep the shop running. In a 5000 employee fortune 500 company, if you're being hired as a Database Administrator, you can rest assured that databases are all you'll ever be asked to know and use so play up on those skills. On the other side of the coin, if you're hired as a DBA in a 5 man programming house, then you can bet your unemployment cheque that you'll be called upon to help out a bit with other jobs. In that case, make it known that you're pretty good at quality control, talk about your exemplary documentation writing skills and don't forget to point out that you were once a programmer in a former life. While doing this however, please keep the former point in mind.

The long and short is that the conventional thinking when it comes to getting a job in IT doesn't always play out in the manner one would think. Persons need to know what's going on in the mind of an employer. They're not as mystified by what tech guys do anymore and as such you need to be more pragmatic in your approach. Remember, you probably want them more than they want you. Act like it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

WataCrackaz AutoSMS 0.4.2

I got a half day earlier this week to work on my pet project and took the time to crank out an update. Version 0.4.2 uses "Smart Polling" to give users message notification without DDoSing my server.

It works by increasing, decreasing or disabling message notification based on your use of the toolbar in a given session. With this update we're back to 100% functionality. Enjoy.