In this article, I’ll share my motivation for doing 60+ technical interviews in 30 days. More importantly, I’ll share 13 lessons I learned from my failures and my successes.
I’ve grouped the lessons into three categories to match the phases of a typical recruitment process.
While most of the lessons apply directly to software engineers and technical professionals, the principles behind these lessons can be applied to all careers. I hope you find something useful that you can apply to your professional lives.
How did I get started?
open-quote “If you’re going to fail, do it fast.” — Unknownclose-quote
Like any other software engineer, I’ve had different types of technical interviews - from the dreaded whiteboard coding interview to the unreal 45-minute coding challenge on platforms like HackerRank. While some of my experiences in these interviews were great, others were bad. Really bad.
But I wanted to get really good at interviewing. I wanted to learn to overcome the interviewing phobia and exude confidence at interviews. Like a skilled surfer, I wanted to learn to ride the high pressure waves that came with interviews. I was also looking to change jobs at the time.
So from January through early March 2020, I applied to and was contacted by companies based in the US and Europe. From early-stage startups like Coda to later stage startups like Crunchbase, from mid-size companies like Affirm, to bigger companies like Amazon and even remote companies like Webflow.
109+ applications later, I landed myself more than 60 interviews. These comprised more than 60 introductory phone interviews, 50+ technical phone screen interviews, 18 take-home coding projects, 11 coding challenges and 8 on-site interviews including 3 virtual ones.
What did I learn?
For better appreciation, I have grouped the lessons into three categories to match the different phases of a typical recruitment process.
This covers everything from the initial contact with a company to the point where the first interview happens.
1. What I learned about applications
When I started applying to companies, I imagined that the more applications I submitted, the higher my chances of getting an interview would be. Seems logical, huh? So I set a target of 5 applications a day, aiming for 1 interview for every 5 applications.
But my strategy didn’t work as I hoped it would. The number of interview requests I got often fell short of my target. It was almost a 1:12 ratio - 1 interview for every 12 applications.
I was faced with the question: do I need to increase my daily target to, say, 10 companies? Or was there something else I needed to change?
With every unsuccessful application, I saw that something needed to change.
That change came when I took a break from meeting my daily numbers and began to think of my applications differently. I began to see each application as a sales pitch to the hiring manager or whoever was going to be reading my application, but here the product being sold was me.
If a company needed to fill a talent gap and I say I had the skills, I needed to find a way to convince them that I did.
My new task then became to find a way to effectively pitch my unique skills, experience and personality in a way that convinced the hiring manager that I was the right fit for the job.
Here is an example of one of such pitches I came up with: