Interview as Adventure
Exploring Different Environments
Interviewing is a learned skill.
You can read all the blogs, watch YouTube, prep with Cracking the Code, and Leetcode your heart out.
The best way to learn is by doing.
Gaining more interview experience provides more opportunities to gather information on what strategies are effective and which ones aren't.
The more data points you have to work with, the better.
Thanks for reading Engineers’ Gate ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Instead of focusing narrowly on a niche or particular title, try speaking with a mix of companies and managers to see what you like. See if there’s any difference in interviews where the salary listed is higher than average or at market rate.
Different industries, different sized companies, different titles, different challenges.
Reframe the interview experience from trying to impress the manager to finding out more about them and what they are trying to accomplish.
When you’re trying to impress, you sound different than when you’re seeking to find common ground. And how to best help.
You can hear the difference in tone of voice as an interviewer.
Take the pressure off yourself.
Look at interviewing as a learning lab.
A simulation for what your future could look like.
It’s hard to imagine if you’ve never even considered the possibilities.
I intentionally seek out people who are not working in financial services or FinTech to hear what their thoughts are on the industries as part of my daily conversations.
The most common complaint I hear about Financial Services is that tech takes a backseat to the business. I’m not sure if I’ll hear that complaint any more moving forward in lieu of all the tech layoffs.
Most hadn’t even thought about the industry at all.
I know this because I ask about it every day. How did you get this job? What made you decide to switch?
In fact, many people simply landed at jobs that were easiest to get.
That made the decision to hire the quickest.
And paid around what they were looking for.
And after this first move, the next move is to apply for jobs posted on LinkedIn.
Where they match every single qualification.
Where’s the fun in that? What are you really learning then?
Try a mix of interviews and notice what patterns you start to see.
Then share your experience with us.
NYC - Upstate Edition
Every once in a while, it’s nice to escape the concrete jungle of Manhattan.
Get outside of your comfort zone.
This past weekend was one of these times.
Took an overnight trip with the ladies to the Abbey, a charming hotel built in the 1800s in Peekskill, New York. The building was originally used by George Washington during the Revolutionary War before being turned into a convent for Episcopalian nuns. It’s less than an hour away by train or car.
I felt a rush of excitement and anxiousness all at once on the drive over. It feels like the tradeoff of leaving home is never even. Having lost my own Mom in 2016, the thought of not being there with my family heightens every moment’s importance, no matter how small it may seem to the outside observer.
The massage made me forget all about that for an hour.
Instead of just going right to work in the same way she would approach anyone, she tailored the approach by asking the right questions and feeling for tension. She treated my body on the left and right sides instead of dividing the work between upper and then lower body. This led to a deeper relaxing sensation than I’d experienced before. She uncovered tension points I never mentioned. Areas I didn’t even realize I was holding tension. The release felt immediate.
What tension are you holding right now? Can be physical or mental.
Think about it.
Refreshed and recharged, I came back ready for the city’s energy again.
24 miles done.
The longest training run ever in my career.
The route was totally flat with gravel on the reservoir track. Very different from the normal hilly route around the pavement on the full Ted Corbitt loop in Central Park.
I actually ended up having a slower overall time.
On my usual pavement route on the full loop, I expect a challenge. Allowing the environment to dictate my response. Allowing the hills and downhills to tell me when to adjust my form. Instead of relying on myself to monitor my energy and adjust.
Let’s apply this to work.
Are you waiting for the environment at work to make your skills more marketable?
Or are you actively looking to yourself to learn new skills to stay marketable?
In Chi Running, your cadence (170-180/strides per minute) stays the same uphill and downhill.
Differences come with arm swing, pelvic rotation, and breath.
Uphill: Elbows stay in front of your body. Arms pumping up. One inhale and one exhale. Zero pelvic rotation.
Downhill: Keep your arms neutral instead of pumping. Two exhales and one inhale. Focus on pelvic rotation.
Running on the flat surface is different.
It’s all about you. A delicate balance of managing and expending energy. Knowing when to press the pace and when to take it easy. Looking at the flat, it felt easy to tackle in theory. In practice, I needed to do more work mentally than physically.
I found myself looking for things to correct instead of things that were going right. My hips felt tight, breathing wasn’t rhythmic, little pebbles started finding their way into my shoes, etc.
Once I turned the focus onto what was going right, the run became more pleasant. I was in my favorite place, in my favorite city, with the sun shining, surrounded by people taking pictures of all the stunning beauty around me. I fueled correctly, I slept enough, and I dressed well for the temperature. Not too hot, not too cold. I was healthy. And I’d also already run 7 marathons before, all longer than this training run. After this wave of positivity, my feet felt lighter and the smile returned.
Try this next time with work.
If you find yourself focusing on what’s going wrong, take a step back and look at what’s going right. Build off the wins, no matter the size, to get momentum going.
Treat your interviews as adventures, go outside of your comfort zone, and think about the environment you work best in.
Do you need the environment to challenge you or do you prefer to set the pace?
See you here next week.
Let’s keep moving,
This is why it’s so much easier to interview often and while you still have a job. I find the stress of selling myself is gone - it’s all about asking questions and soaking things up, which makes the interaction enjoyable for both sides.
Those interview tips are gold, Jen. I can vouch for them. For many years, I saw interviewing as something I only needed to do when actively looking for a job.
Nowadays, I do interviews even if I'm not actively looking...
(1) so I can get a feel for what the market is looking for, and
(2) so I can practice and keep my interviewing skills sharp