Senior Developer Interview is a mystery. Junior Dev Interview is a thriller.
Junior Developer Interviews, while draining every ounce of your algorithmic energy, are too predictable.The reason for this is million algorithm practice websites, interview prep Youtube channels and blog posts telling you how to get hired by Google. It takes time to prepare, sure, but it’s doable.
The key to succeed at senior developer interview is to understand how you succeeded in your junior developer interviews.
And understanding that same strategy does not work for senior developer interview.
Junior Developer Interviews are too predictable:
Every employer / interviewer knows beforehand:
- You hold a computer degree (if not, some online certification + enticing Github)
- You have practiced enough Leetcode
- You have read CTCI back to back thrice
- You have watched enough Youtube Interview videos
This doesn’t mean it is easy to succeed at junior dev interview. The thing is:
Cracking a junior dev interview doesn’t depend on how much you know, but how you end up with the execution.
And how you communicate your every programming step to the interviewer.
What makes Senior Devs beef up in their interviews:
Applying the same above strategies that has prepared them for junior developer interviews.
The reason they do that is because they rely on your past laurels: They succeeded in getting hired for $100K fresh out of college.
Wouldn’t it be easier to get that $150K + stocks offer, now that I have 2 years of experience?
The answer is No.
On the other hand, if they just follow some not so simple steps to succeed at Senior Dev Interview, they can easily nail $200K.
Plus Stocks. And remote. And relocation.
In my past article, I summarized how to prepare for senior dev interview:
How to Prepare for Your Next Senior Developer Interview
Marketers research their customers before approaching them. Authors do the same with their publishers. Programmers…
Below goes 4 key things that can take time to learn, but have enormous impact on how you fare in your senior developer interview.
Show your human side first:
You must show your human side in your interviews.
Senior devs are being treated more like box to hold their marbles, and this is becoming increasingly more important in evaluating senior candidates.
Not just during to face-to-face rounds, but also during telephonic conversations with HR.
- Never miss on the niceties. How have you been can be easily extended to weather hasn’t been so cheery. It must be super hard to reach office these days.
- Stop sounding robotic. Don’t use tech jargon heavy speech. Instead, give a summary of what you did using what technologies in shortest possible way. (Good example: I developed entire back end using Node.js and deployed using Docker.)
- Appreciate what’s worth appreciating e.g. flexibility in interview scheduling, or directions help while reaching to the interview spot.
- Avoid using lingos that resemble Corporate Mission statements (Bad example: I am committed to provide the best combination of quality and integrity for your esteemed organization. Good example: I believe in writing robust, testable code that is well-documented.)
Opinions hold more value over technical expertise:
Senior devs hold the torch to guide their crew.
Choosing the right technology at the right time is a challenge every senior dev must face in his / her career.
If you don’t exactly recollect how a binary search function must be written, it maybe OK. In fact, in recent times, in-person coding has been recognized as stress test. There is 1% chance you will be required to code in front of your interviewers.
But you must know that employing binary search is the most efficient way to search because it offers O(log N) complexity for a sorted collection.
You must know why React became the most favored front end network, but yet, why you are more comfortable using Angular.
And you must know all this about software processes as well:
- Why you think daily scrum is less productive than twice-a-week meeting
- Why TDD is a rule, though you had little opportunity to check out Selenium that’s used by interviewers’ team
To make it possible to make them listen to you, you need content and creativity. In my past article, I summarized how programmers can be creative by reading a lot, programming books not included:
Why Programmers need creativity
My friend requested me to help him update his CV. I had to say NO. There are things that he can do, and he may never…
If reading is not suitable for you, watching videos about tech history is useful too.
This is not to say technical prowess is less important. It’s just that face-to-face interviews are not the right opportunities to exhibit it, unless you are specifically asked to write code.
(If you are, though, avoid a smirk.)
Surprises are much more likely in senior dev interviews because they are deliberately designed to test your conflict-resolution abilities.
I was recently asked: “What was your worst moment in career?”
Your instant reaction to this question can surely lead you to fall into this trap. Worst moments could range from colleagues mocking you for your bad dressing to your boss admonishing you for a mass delete SQL query.
Advice? Narrow down the scope with a counter question. Worst moment as a programming disaster, a career setback (not being promoted), or a conflict with a superior?
If they refuse to narrow it down and simply stick to you describing your worst emotional experience in your career, by all means, stick to things related to your delivery quality (where you could do better) instead of making it interpersonal.
If they lead you to talk about any interpersonal conflict that you faced:
- Describe what part of it made you feel worse.
- Avoid complaining tone. It shows you were on the problematic side, not the solution one.
- Do not forget to mention how you attempted to reach out to your colleagues and make amends / ask for resolutions.
All in all, it is better to expect it beforehand rather than regretting your every word as you fret it out.
Tell your life’s story:
Senior Developer Interviews test your experience. And that just doesn’t have to include programming. It’s life too.
Selling yourself / your product is more about storytelling. Development expertise is surely important, but it can come during coding exercise or job probation period.
While all your competitors can google Senior Dev Interview Questions, you can win over them by telling about what has led you so far up to this interview.
- Your best achievements in school
- Your worst shortcomings in spat with friends
- How you came up with that product idea while vacationing on the beach or taking a shower
Your past career, and your take on it - is your edge over your competitors. And they have no way to google it. At least right now.
Being a good programmer requires great Github, nice looking blog, and intense mental energy to go through the grueling technical interview process.
However, succeeding at a senior developer interview requires you to market your value as a human being to the organization. If you do it right, you can lessen a lot of burden of the interview process.
Before it has even begun.