Thanks to Jack Domleo (@jackdomleo7 ) for asking the question on twitter which triggered a lot of discussions and debates. I thought, hey, this needs to definitely be shared as an article and so here it is.
Jack DomleoInterviewer: "Why do you want to work for us?"
Developer: "You're hiring for a developer..."
I honestly really hate this interview question. 😅
Unless your company is a global sensation and developers travel the world to apply for you, don't ask it.
#100DaysOfCode #CodeNewbie09:29 AM - 15 Jul 2020
I'm sharing my thoughts as an engineering manager on what I'm looking for as a response to the question, "Why do want to work for us?" from candidates.
Before we get into the details, I want to first state that I have an overall experience in the software industry of around 16+ years working in Service, Product, and Start-up industries. This is to state my credentials upfront.
The second point is that by no means, I'm in support of or against asking the above-mentioned question in an interview.
The opinions expressed in this article are to clarify what I would want to know from the candidate when I ask them the question 'Why do you want to work for us?' and also provide resources for any candidate looking to research a company.
As an engineering manager, I'm looking for the following things when I ask the question:
- How much time did the candidate spend on researching the company?
- How much the candidate understands in terms of what is listed in the roles and responsibilities section of the job description?
- Is the candidate aware of the company's products or what businesses they are into?
- How much time did the candidate spend on general research beyond what his technical skills can showcase?
With the advent of the internet, literally anyone can find a multitude of information ranging from when the company was founded to what was the last destination the CEO had vacationed.
I've listed a couple of resources that'll be helpful for research:
Company's website - What are their product offerings are? What are their mission, vision, and values? Where do they have offices located? Any news/press related information?
LinkedIn - It finds out from your current contacts who had previously worked or are currently working in the company. This information is 'GOLD' since you can directly reach out to them to get to know the internal workings of the company. Other than that, they also publish information about the company.
Glassdoor - Contains reviews and ratings about the company and it can be filtered by role, ratings, average salary, etc.
Crunchbase - If you are planning to join a start-up, then you MUST research the company on Crunchbase. It provides comprehensive information about the company such as when was it founded, their investors, the number of rounds of funding, the last funding date and amount, stage of start-up (Seed, Series A, B or C...), etc.
AlternativeTo - If you have an idea about the product you'll be working on, it'll be good to research this site. This is a unique website that provides information on alternate products that exist to the ones that the company offers. Most often, the companies building the alternate products are the direct competitors.
The job description published by a company mostly would seem overwhelming. But, the trick is to focus on identifying your strengths and match them with the requirements listed in the job description.
For example, If you are applying for a company that makes software for the Insurance industry and if you happen to have prior experience working in the Insurance domain, it is important to highlight the following:
- While technology might be your primary interest, how your knowledge of the insurance domain will sufficiently help you to ramp up on the domain understanding.
- Since you already have the familiarity of the domain, you'll be able to build more efficient solutions.
Today for every developer position, there are thousands of resumes that are being sent for the position and the hiring panel has to scan through each of them, shortlist and finally schedule them for an interview.
Having made it so far, what can really tip your candidature in the favor of hire is the ability to showcase that you have something to offer that the company cannot resist saying no to.
Research and the ability to showcase what you understand about the company's products, what was the latest news release, etc. showcase to the interviewer that you have put in the time to go beyond applying for 'a' job.
While doing research, often you'll encounter a few questions that will be good to present at the end of the discussion when the interviewer asks, 'Are there any questions for me?'
A couple of points that were brought about during the discussion on Twitter, which I thought needs to be mentioned:
As a complete newbie to the industry, I don't know how to navigate through the amount of information available on the internet.
- This is often the most common cause. I would start off with what my skills can offer and look for what matches with the company. If there's no fitment with skills, then look for the commonality in terms of values, vision, etc.
As a newbie, when I look at the job description, it contains a long list of skills and often I feel I'm not good enough.
- I hope the industry looks at correcting this at the earliest and I acknowledge that this is an issue that exists.
- My recommendation would be to look at how your skills can add value to the company & focus on your strengths. As for things you don't know, you can always say that you are a fast learner and you'll be able to pick it up on the job.
Should I be worried, if I don't answer this question well?
- One of the candidates answered, 'Joining this organization would reduce my commute time a lot'. As you would have guessed, the candidate did not make it. While it might be a correct answer, it's not the one the company is looking for.
- This question focuses more on the behavioral aspect of the candidature. If you aren't very confident after the extensive research you've done on the company, a simple alternative answer could be something like "My friends who are working/ have worked in this organization have/had recommended me to interview for the position, due to your outstanding work culture."
As an engineering manager, I will certainly NOT make a hire/no hire decision solely based on this question.
However, if the candidate has done the research and is able to articulate the findings in an efficient manner, it will certainly tip the scales in the candidate's favor to be hired.
Personally, I've been surprised a few times when a candidate mentions a specific feature or a product that has been published on the company's website and how the candidate was interested to be part of joining the team that builds such exciting products.
In such cases, it gives the hiring manager an idea of the kind of output he can expect out of the candidate. I personally, make a note of it in my hiring feedback that I submit back to the organization.
It'll be interesting to find out what other engineering managers think of this question and whether they find any value to add this to their interviewing process.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do let me know your feedback/comments on your thoughts about the article.