In the last post, I talked about how I ended up interviewing for two positions without looking for a job. And what might seem like a process that should be fairly consistent since both were DevRel positions, there were still some pretty big differences that didn’t have to do with the fact that one was for a Senior position and the other a Junior. So here’s the breakdown of each process:
Total length, from initial DM to decision Junior position: 71 days Senior position: 33 days
- Initial conversation with team lead
- Initial call with hiring manager
- 30 minute presentation before a panel of 5-6 team members with 30 minutes of questions
- An hour leadership interview with two team members
- 45 minute interview with the hiring manager
- 45 minute diversity and inclusion interview
- 15 minute wrap up interview with recruiter
Total active interview time: 4 hours and 45 minutes
- Initial conversation with Director of DevRel
- Recorded pair programming with head of DevRel
- 15 minute recorded lightning talk on the subject of my choosing
- hour-long behavioral interview with Director of DevRel
Total active interview time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
For the presentation, I was given six different options, ranging from talking about one of their products, to DevOps, to a deep dive into a technical topic, to open-source, and finally, what I chose: how they should approach Online Video Content, Hackathons, Meet-ups, Social media, and Community Management.
Although this seemed like the lengthiest subject to tackle, I immediately had ideas. I have worked on pretty much all of these and have learned a lot about systems and processes that empower volunteers to be a part of the process. The trouble with this was that the organization is really large, and I wanted to make sure I had a clear handle on what their approach had been so far, how have they done these things in the past, what had worked, and what could power them up in the future. Because there wasn’t a clear home base for these things on their site, this process took a long time. I learned a lot about the organization, found things that I didn’t know existed, and started to put together some notes and slides. In total, I ended up with 24 slides for a thirty minute presentation, and an additional walkthrough at the end.
One of the most challenging aspects was that I had to tackle an approach to five different topics, and it was really important to me that they understood my philosophy behind my approach that tied all of these things together. So in addition to the deep dive into their organization, creating the presentation and slides, I had to cut down my very long presentation to get closer to a thirty minute presentation. Listen, I could’ve spent at least an hour talking about each of these individual pieces. This was not an easy or quick job.
What happened was I had to take time off work to work on it. I made the (wrong) decision to skip one of my favorite local monthly events with my family to work on it. I worked and worked and worked on it. I’m proud of the final project I submitted.
But when I got to the interview, it turned out that there was a mistake in the email. It should have said to choose one of these (Online video content, Hackathons, Meet-ups, Social media, and community management) and give your approach. So what I put sixty hours into, could’ve taken a fraction of the time.
Total time researching and creating presentation: ~60 hours
The presentation directions were less specific here: Create a 15 minute lightning talk on the subject of your choosing, record, and email a link.
This was a much shorter process because it wasn’t focused on an understanding of the company. I didn’t jump into the project either. I took some time to look at the current team members, listen and watch what they were currently doing, and tried to image how I could fit on the team. That was a little bit easier because I had already met a handful of them at some point in my coding journey, and I already enjoyed those experiences. I was still having a hard time imagining how I fit into their world. They seem like a really well-rounded team. So I brainstormed a number of topics and finally wrote really detailed outlines for both, and presented them to three developers I’m close to for their feedback. And from that came The Coder’s Journey: Meeting the mentor, a fifteen minute talk with 40 slides.
Now, here’s where the frustrating part came in. For those of you who’ve had the experience of speaking before a live audience versus recording yourself, you may have felt how hard it is to keep the same energy when there’s no feedback, no head nods, not acknowledgement. And for me, when I deliver a talk, I get super nervous. But, for whatever reason, it works because I can direct and exchange energy with the audience and it balances out.
When I’m talking to myself into a camera, the only place for that extra energy to go is back to myself. And to top that off were the technical difficulties I faced recording the talk. For me, it was important to get it all in one take to better replicate the live experience. Initially, I had some pacing issues, then some lighting issues, then some video issues.
Finally, I thought I nailed it.
And then I watched the video.
The audio didn’t sync with the video. And I couldn’t fix it.
At this point, I was frustrated and starting to get tired of delivering the same talk. So when I hit a point where I finally made it through the material and the sound worked, I was done. I couldn’t deliver that talk to myself, without an audience anymore. Not today, not tomorrow, maybe sometime in the far future. Was it my best performance? For sure no. But it was the best I could do in the moment.
Total time researching and creating presentation: ~6 hours (If I hadn’t had the technical difficulties with recording, this would have been more like 4 hours)
- One of the questions I asked was about the pain points the team was currently facing. I felt like there was a lot of honesty from the team about the challenges they were facing. It helped me to have a better understanding of what I was potentially walking into.
- I loved the Diversity and Inclusion interview. The interviewer did a great job of making me feel heard in the interview, allowing me to talk openly and vulnerably, providing me with a response and conversation. She was also the only mom in tech that I had the chance to interview with 1:1. I think that made a huge difference in the report from the beginning.
The behavioral interview was simultaneously one of the worst and best experiences. We talked through my work history, strengths and weaknesses, and the interviewer provided me feedback on what they saw as my strengths and weaknesses. It was one of the worst because it was emotionally exhausting talking through some of the challenges I’ve faced in the workplace and really digging in deep to the whys and hows of the situation. It was also the best because I learned a lot about myself in that session. There’s maybe been one or two other times in my life where someone has read me that well. It’s both a jarring and exciting experience. It’s exciting because there’s so much potential for growth in those situations. There are things that are understood that you don’t have to reveal. There’s less of an opportunity to hide. I came out of that interview feeling like I knew there was a person invested in me, and I can’t think of any better outcome.
Interviewing can certainly be exhausting, but I’m super thankful for all I learned through these two processes. I learned more about the right questions to ask (there will be a post on that!), how to listen better, how to make the process meaningful for myself. I learned about DevRel. I learned about different approaches to DevRel and management and processes. I learned that even though I’ve never been paid as a DevRel, I am doing so many DevRel things and that my 10 years of teaching college English courses is certainly an asset that I can lean into way more than I have been. I learned that taking a more direct approach to asking questions is important to me. I learned that continued communication, whether through DMs or emails or some other mode, is really important for me to understand as much as I can. I learned that feedback is really important, and that’s what I’ll talk about in the next post.