5 Ways to Improve the Engineer’s Interview Experience with DC Tech Startups

We attended the panel How to Build and Manage an Engineering Team during DC Startup Week and heard from some startup heavy hitters about all things hiring; how they’re looking at resumes, what they want to see during the interview process and some of the challenges that they face in hiring. Here are some key takeaways to make navigating the interview process easier.

1. Stay fresh

The majority of panelist expressed how hard it was to find engineers in such a heavy government town. One of the challenges that they’ve faced is the lack of demand or drive for engineers to keep skills up to date or learn new languages. Find ways to show that you are someone who likes to be challenged and are interested in continued learning. Plan to sign up for certifications? Working on a side project with friends? Show the company how you’re invested in your growth and they’ll also want to invest in you.

Hatch Recommends:
Keep your Github up-to-date with your side projects.
Keep your LinkedIn up to date with key skills and your current experience.

2. Tell them what you want

During your interviews, they’re looking at you like a puzzle piece and trying to figure out how you’re going to fit best within the company. Help them out! Interviewers want to know what drives you and where you see yourself down the line. Let them know if becoming an Architect is your ultimate goal. Don’t want to take on managerial duties? Tell them. You’ll save yourself the grief if they can’t help you realize your dreams and you’ll find a company that’s got your back as you grow.

Hatch Recommends:
When talking to your recruiter on early stage calls, let him/her know the top 3 priorities you want in a new role.

3. Don’t change for the company

Every panelist was in agreement – culture is what makes a company successful and people make the culture. They want to hire people who are bringing new ideas, new perspectives and new experiences to the table. Don’t try to fit yourself into the cookie cutter mold of what they’re looking for – no one will be happy.

Hatch Recommends:
In your interview – ask everyone from the CEO to Interns what they like about the company culture.

4. Do your research

They want to make sure that they’re hiring someone who’ll truly enjoy the role and that means knowing what the job description asks.  Learn about the role and look into the company. Explore their website, app, blog posts – anything to give you a better sense of what kind of company you’re interviewing with.

Hatch Recommends:
Research the company’s major competitors and ask the company what makes them different from their competitors.

5. Technical assessments are here to stay

You’ve talked the talk, now can you walk the walk? The panelists shared that they use technical assessments as a way to really nail down who they’re moving forward with to final rounds. When you receive an assessment, make sure to have open communication about when you will be completing it. Some assessments will have time frames, some will not – no matter what, companies want to know if you are setting aside time to work on this important interview step.

Hatch Recommends:
If you have questions about the assessment, address them with your recruiter and let them know. The worst thing you can do is to wing the assessment with what you think is the right way if you are unsure.

Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you navigate the interview process in the future. Please leave a comment below with additional advice, feedback, etc – we would love to hear from you!

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