What I Learned about Interviews That Can Help Get You More Offers

Tech interviews are terrible. ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE.

Like everyone else, I spent years suffering through the terrible interview process. Sitting across from people who didn’t exactly make me feel welcomed. The situation is high pressure and it’s hard to win (or even feel good about it).

I’ve participated in dozens of interviews in my career and given dozens of interviews. I’m going to tell you how I work the process.

Here’s the first thing I want you to understand: _THEY NEED YOUR HELP_.

Let me explain - work needs to be done at a company. If work isn’t being done, then the company isn’t making the maximum amount of profit. But wait, there’s more to this story. Not only is less work being done, there’s also the interview process. When you go in for an interview two-four people are sitting in on your process. That means 2-4 people aren’t working. Starting to see the picture here? They need you to be good.

In fact, most interviewers are hoping that you are good because to make it worth it to not be working.

This gives you a lot of power in the room. If you go in understanding that they need your help, it becomes more of a two way conversation instead of you just trying to get them to like you. I approach every interview with the attitude that they need to get me to like them.

I don’t assume that the job is going to be a good place to work. They need to prove it to me.

I follow this so much that I usually start the “salary” conversation with, “Before we talk numbers, I want to find out if I like you enough to work together and if you like me enough to move forward.”

Let me give you my top five questions that’ll help you to be successful in interviews.

  1. How do you define success in this role? How does one know they are ready for a promotion?

  2. [Ask the interviewer how long they’ve been there] - then say, “Based on the market, why did you decide to stay here?”

  3. What’s something you would love to change about the company?

  4. If I asked 10 people in the office why they stay, what would they say?

  5. If I asked 10 people why they want to leave, what would they say?

I use these questions or variations of these questions on every interview. These give you a chance to really get some control in the interview.

These are much better questions than, “what is your tech stack?” If you want to know that, then ask in a way that will reveal something about the company. I’d say, “What were some of the decisions that led to the current techology stack?”

Try to think of questions that allow you to dig deeper into the company culture. Here’s another question I might ask, “what are some of the things the leadership team does to help keep the teams on track when it comes to competing priorities?”

Okay, here’s one more bonus question, “How do you folks handle conflict between team members?”

I use these questions and the point of view that they need my help to go in with confidence. This energy, if you will, allows me to be freed up to focus on execution and giving my best effort.

When I’m able to give my best efforts I can usually leave a good impression and get that young offer. A word of caution, though, I wouldn’t go into the interview with arrogance, just confidence that you have the juice and they need you on the team. If you push too hard, you won’t find out the critical info you are looking for and you’ll find yourself out of the opportunity.

Chin up, champ. You got this in spades.