For the first time ever I was on the opposite of the interview table. I've interviewed plenty before, but recently I was the interviewer. It was quite an interesting experience, and I wanted to put pen to paper to clear my thoughts on what I learned. Both as an interviewer and as an interviewee.

Curate your CV

Keep it short. The general recommendation from places like /r/resumes is to keep to 1 page. This is usually based on the fact that recruiters spend an average of ~20 seconds on each resume. So if you want to be sure a recruiter sees all the impressive stuff you've done, then you have to keep it on one page.

I spend a lot more than 20 seconds on each resume we got. I carefully read everything the candidates submitted. The advice of keeping a resume short, ideally one page, is still valid though. By including irrelevant and trivial stuff, you make the interesting portions appear less interesting. You also make it less clear what you are really strong at

Think of the story you want to tell me with the CV. What impressions do you want readers to walk away with? Remove the stuff that doesn't add to that impression and perfect the stuff that do.

It's bloody hard to see how good someone is from their CV

Plenty of good people have rubbish CV's, LinkedIn or github profiles. I knew that, but I didn't expect just how hard getting a rough sense of someone's skill level based on their CV's would be. There was a clear general lack of stuff that allowed me to judge the difficulty of what they had done. Instead it was mostly just "Worked X months at this company. We used y, z and q.". As years of experience is not the same as ability, this doesn't give me too much of a sense of how good you are or even which of the technologies you used the most. Nor does it give me much of a starting point for technical questions during the interview to dig into your competences.

I would far more prefer more concrete stuff. Like

  • Built angular frontend interface, to show and filter 2000 different records. The data came a Django Rest framework which I had also built.
  • Participated in rework on entire website with a focus on mobile performence. We ended up reducing number of resources requested on the average page from 216 to 34.
  • Rebuilt our css to be compiled from sass, which reduced duplications and redundancies. The final css file was 30% the size of the original and far more maintainable.

It's not a good idea to ask a question in the job advert.

Personally I have a lot harder times writing cover letters than CV's. The latter is a fairly clear, albeit hard, prioritization of achievements based on awesomeness, recency and relevance. Delivered clearly, concisely and correctly. For cover letters it feels too subjective based on the receiver. One may appreciate more about me as a person, whereas another may like to know more about why I thought myself qualified for the position. So we decided to include the following section in the job advert.

We use continuous integration, has a short way from development to production and do multiple deploys a day. We continuously work on improving our technical infrastructure and are planning to move to a modern javascript framework in the near future. Angular, React or something different? We would love to hear your opinion.

This was a genuine question and I would be genuinely interested in hearing candidates opinion on this subject. For me personally it would be easier to write a cover letter around this subject that the more free text form of normal cover letters.

It completely fell on its face We got precisely 0 responses to this. Indeed candidates seemed to completely ignore it. I believe the reason for this may be that candidates copy/paste their cover letters in higher degrees than I suspected and reworking it to answer a job specific question is not something most candidates have time for. It may even have scared people away from applying if they knew little of Angular or react.

Interviewing is hard

Surprisingly so. It's not as draining as being interviewed, but after 3 interviews in a row I was mentally spent. I think at most 2 interviews should be conducted back-to-back, with at least 1 hour break until the next interview. And at most 3 or 4 interviews over an entire day.