DEV Community

Cover image for This is how I evaluate my potential employer (it works 99%)
fullstackcodr
fullstackcodr

Posted on • Updated on

This is how I evaluate my potential employer (it works 99%)

Disclaimer: In this post I list a few points that I put under consideration when I am interviewed for a job. This is not a career advice or any kind of recipe for success. This is a personal perspective of how I evaluate my potential employer during the interview stage. I don't expect everyone to agree with the statements below. English is not my primary language, so my apologies for any mistakes.

Finding a job is a vital task and can drive to several situations, positives or negatives. The candidate can end up in a promising environment and grow with/through the company or even end up working in a toxic environment and get stuck in the same point for ages.

At the beginning of the career, usually we try to sell ourselves in the best way possible in order to get the job. We usually focus on how our background can match the listed requirements of the job ad. Well, this is not bad at all.. Although, the interview is a two-way procedure.. There is the interviewer(s) who is trying to understand why you are the right candidate for the role but also it's you who is trying to understand why you should work for this employer - why you should spend X years of your life working for this company - what does this company has to give you in return for your skills.

I am in this stage of my career where money is not the main criterion to select a potential employer. I like the "select a potential employer".. This is what an interview should be at the end, the interviewer choose the right candidate but also, it's the candidate who choose the company as well. Every time I give an interview, I do have a specific list in my mind that helps me evaluating the potential employer.

Long story short. This is pretty much what I consider before choosing my next role:

1. Technical challenges

This is the ground level to build the rest layers. Obviously, in order to get the job you have to prove that you have the required understanding to solve the given task. The way you divide the problem into smaller ones, the way you approach the solution, the clean code, this is what the interviewer should evaluate. The majority of the assessments are about some basic loop functions, iterations, conditionals, sql maybe. This ok, this is what you should expect. What I put under consideration in this step is the way they provide the challenge, what orders I get to resolve the task. Do they accept one solution (their solution) as a valid answer? How do they evaluate the result? Do they go through the steps I took to resolve the issue or is it the result that matters?

2. See below the technical skills

Does the interviewer has the ability to see any further from my technical skills? Is the interviewer able to understand my professional attitude? It's high desirable for a candidate to have a deep knowledge of a specific technology but what about the soft skills? Another project will possibly arrive and the company might decide to switch the tech stack. In that case, the candidate should follow and adapt the new technology. The interviewer should be able to identify if the candidate is able to move outside his comfort zone.

3. "Prima donna" attitude

It is usual to face a kind of arrogance in our job. There are a lot of people out there believing that they are intelligent and any different thought to theirs, it is just a piece of garbage. I call those guys "rockstars" or "prima donnas" and I am allergic to them. I worked with such people in the past. During an interview you can get some signs and possibly avoid working in a toxic environment. How does the interviewer react after you are answering a question, what is his face expression, how far is he going if he has a different opinion to yours? Does he judge the tech stack or the decisions you took in your previous projects? This is a way to get an initial feeling of the company's general attitude.

4. At least one female in the team

It is 2020, it's a joke to do any kind of comparison between male and female engineers. This would be not proper at all at the end. Women in tech (like in any other industry) are extremely capable and can achieve high level goals. Not sure if I even had to say that - the gender does not matter at all. Although, it really matters to me having at least one female in the team for another reason. Some times the software developer teams are laid back.. Really laid back... In such a way that they are chatting using not proper vocabulary (sometimes disgusting). I won't say more.. I found out that in a team where there is at least one female member, the male members are more careful and gentle in the way the are talking. I guess they respect the fact that it's not pleasant for a woman to listen men talking like they are teenagers.

5. Bad interview - not prepared interviewer

You are getting in the room, prepared to answer questions about the technical skills, education, possibly some other general questions. The thing is, how much is the interviewer prepared? Is the interview structured at all? Does the interviewer follow an order to make the questions? Does he know what he is talking about at the end? This is a real scenario, I was interviewed by four people (the whole team that I would potentially work with) and one of the guys mentioned the SOLID principle and asked me to talk about it. When I reached the "I" (Interface Segregation) another one stopped me: "this is not the "I"! The "I" stands for Inversion Of Control". He was that sure he was right, that he left the room to google about it (and obviously understood his failure). So again, you know what you are talking about although, does the interviewer know what he is talking about?

6. Stability - growth

To meet the job requirements is checked. To work with good/collaborative/positive people is checked. What about the stability and the options to grow with the company? How healthy is the company and how well is it going with the competition? Even if all the above crucial aspects are covered and you are happy to work in this environment, the big picture should always be the next step and how this particular role would help you to grow. Business is business and bad things happen all the time - you cannot predict it. Possibly a few clients moved to the competitors. How is the company going to act in this case scenario? Announce redundancies? If so, what are the criteria for the selection? L.I.F.O. (aka Last In First Out)? This is definitely an issue to consider because behind the joy of creation working with code, we have to deal with our bills at the end of the day..

Well, that's all folks! The above list is what I pay the most attention when I give an interview, it covers pretty much what I want to get from my potential employer and how I imagine myself in the company.

Your opinion is welcome. I am happy to read comments and possibly end up in an interesting conclusion.

☕ Buy Me A Coffee

Discussion (8)

Collapse
alebiagini profile image
aleBiagini

This is a very important aspect that every junior dev should consider. I found myself in bad situations just because I was so eager to learn and start a new path that I completely forgot about the other 50%, the employer. It is also true that it's very difficult to have a higher ground when negotiating your first jobs. IMHO all the things you say are correct for a dev with 1/2 years of commercial experience, while a junior has little space for choosing.

Collapse
fullstackcodr profile image
fullstackcodr Author

When I started working as a developer (long time ago), I was trying to secure any role on software development and I was happy by the fact that I was getting paid for writing code. After I switched a few companies and started interacting with different kind of environments, I realized that I have to see beyond that. This is what this post is all about, to have a deeper vision when dealing with potential employers. Thanks for your comment!

Collapse
daniel13rady profile image
Daniel Brady

I like your points 💯

I've only had a handful of tech interviews where I was the candidate, but a few more where I was part of the interviewing team.

As a candidate, I tend to forget it is a two-way conversation, and I often prepare for the "me being questioned" part but not the "me questioning them" part. So even if I had a good interview experience, I often leave without much to base a decision on, should they offer me a job. (And like you say, it is important to remember that they are offering you a job, and it's up to you to decide if you take it.)

Thinking about my times acting as an interviewer, which happened maybe 3 or 4 times, I don't recall any of the candidates asking any questions they weren't primed to ask. Mostly, they just sat there and waited for us to orchestrate the interview.

Collapse
fullstackcodr profile image
fullstackcodr Author

I know what you mean. In most of my interviews I was trying to say what the interviewer wanted to hear from me - what makes me an ideal candidate etc.

I guess since the tech industry is really boiling and finding a good professional is really difficult for the recruitment teams, then the candidates should be more suspicious for the place they are going to work for.

Thanks for your comment!

Collapse
daniel13rady profile image
Daniel Brady

As OP puts it nicely:

There is the interviewer(s) who is trying to understand why you are the right candidate for the role but also it's you who is trying to understand why you should work for this employer - why you should spend X years of your life working for this company - what does this company has to give you in return for your skills?

For myself, I would add another point that's high on my list (and OP touched on it indirectly in some of theirs): "people".

  • Did you get any 'red flags' about the people you interacted with during your interview process (at any stage)?
  • Did you actually like any of the people who interviewed you? (You don't have to, but it's always a plus.)
  • What can you tell about the 'quality' of the people you'll be around, with respect to their ability and willingness to help you grow? Did any of them seem like they had an "every man for themselves" attitude?

If I'm going to be spending 50-60%* of my waking life for the foreseeable future being around and working with these people, they damn well better provide "good soil" for me to grow in.

Obviously, the format of a company's interview process has a direct impact on who at the company you get to interact with, and in what sort of capacity, so I find this point to be a challenge in most of my interviews.

But you can tell a lot about a person from a 30-minute extended interaction (which has been a format shared by the on-site interviews I've had). That's the main reason the companies do it, I think, though I'm sure they're only thinking about how much the interviewers can learn about the candidates and not the other way around.


*back-of-the-napkin math based on being at work 8-10hrs a day and being awake for only about 16, not counting weekends

Collapse
fullstackcodr profile image
fullstackcodr Author

Good points indeed!

Collapse
bacchusplateau profile image
Bret Williams

As an interviewer I appreciate this list and I believe I do pretty well upon reflection. It was really interesting to read these from an interviewee's POV.

Your #3 resonated with me - I work with a few of these types and they are toxic to work culture.

Collapse
fullstackcodr profile image
fullstackcodr Author • Edited on

I stood in both sides of the desk (I gave quiet a lot interviews and I interviewed people approx 11 times) but in both cases, I try to think as an interviewee.

Thanks for your comment!