public class ben:harrell

June 7, 2006

Tech Interviews

Filed under: Careers, Technology — benjamin harrell @ 9:52 pm

Continuing with the “career” theme, I thought I would take a second to talk about tech interviews. I have done quite a few interviews and I have seen what I consider all types so I wanted to talk about the most common and see if anyone has experience with these interviews and perhaps any others that I missed. So here is the short list from easiest to most difficult!

1. The Conversation – This is usually a joke, if you can talk about a few things on your resume and some newer technologies without swallowing your tongue you are probably going to do well. The trick to this inteview is find out what peeks the interviewers interest and have a fun conversation about it. Don’t forget to plug yourself when appropriate, not in an awkward way but in the flow of the conversation. (ex. “I am very excited about C# generics, I used several strongly typed collections in my last project and can see the benefit.”)

2. The Behavioral – This interview type is a little different, you are given questions where you have to discuss situations. For example, “Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss and how you handled it.” The best way to handle these is to be truthful (duh!) but prepare for this one by answering some common questions in advance. Here are some links to sample questions:

3. The Quiz – This type of interview is really just a machine gun of questions about your past, projects, technologies, and pretty much any other trivia you can think of. It really helps to be prepared for this type of interview but in a pinch it is ok to say that you haven’t worked with a certain tech (if it isn’t on your resume) or to give the old “I remember reading about that but haven’t had a chance to use it, I’m sure I could find the answer pretty fast if needed.” Don’t be surprised if you get brain teasers and code on the whiteboard questions in this one. Don’t get too fancy on the whiteboard stick to pseudocode if not given a language and just make sure that you talk about what you are doing. When you get a brain teaser don’t just think about it and freeze up. Start making notes and talking about the problem, most interviewers don’t care too much about the answer just your process for getting it.

I hope these reviews help, feel free to leave a comment about interviews you have had and any tough questions you can remember.

May 3, 2006

Tech Resumes – Part 2

Filed under: Careers, Technology — benjamin harrell @ 5:03 am

As I continue to rework my resume I am working on what I assume most techies have near the top…the notorious "technologies" section.  Is there any good way to present this without overloading information?  You don't want to talk about every tech you have ever done but don't want to shortchange your experience.  I use my tech section as a table of contents for what I am about to say in my "project experience" section which I will discuss more in Part 3.  My intent is to catch anyone's attention who would be scanning the resume and present key words quickly and a short blurb about how I have used these technologies.  I think that if you can keep someone's attention this far you will probably not end up in the trash and might even get someone to read your most recent project. I have taken a stab at it quite a few times and this is what I eventually decided on

Tech Section

…obviously you want it to be a quick read and sorted by most appropriate to the job you are applying for.  previously I had the level of experience (beginner, intermediate, advanced) but I found that most of the technologies that I was intermediate in I was currently studying hard to be advanced and most of the beginner ones I didn't care about so I just dropped the level all together and I expect to be able to accurately describe my level in an interview. 

Tech Resumes – Part 1

Filed under: Careers, Technology — benjamin harrell @ 5:02 am

We all have to update our resume at some point often times when unexpected 🙂  fortunately I am not updating mine for that reason but while I am taking the time to update my resume I thought I would share my layout and logic in hopes that some n00b or recent grad might gain some insight.  I'm by no means an expert and I plan on posting my resume soon and would appreciate any feedback. 

 First, I would like to talk about the dreaded objective section.  Why does anyone still put this on their resume?  How many of you just paraphrase the job description you are applying for and throw in a few nuggets about how you "work well in teams" and are a "great communicator" who is "highly motivated"?  I don't think this is effective or appropriate anymore but this is just my opinion.  Joel Spolsky has a great post on cover letters and not getting your resume thrown in the trash here and I would like to reiterate a few things he has said and give you a tip on how to incorporate it into your resume.  Joel states that you should try to humanize yourself in your cover letter and I totally agree but since this post is about resumes I will tell you how to incorporate this same tactic in your actual resume.  My recent change was to change my "objective" (formerly "Professional Summary") section to actually be "about me".  May sound trite but this is actually very web friendly and I think "me" is very humanizing.  I have chose in my resume to mix the professional and human aspects this is how I did it.  If you, for example, are relocating to a certain area why not give a brief statement about when and why like: 

  I am a California native looking for Wall Street experience.  I feel my 7 years of experience would be invaluable to an Investment Bank in need of a Team Leader.  I have delivered several successful projects in Healthcare and Insurance and can't wait to get started in finance!

Sure you might think it sounds a little cheesy but you never know who might be able to connect to your situation.  Most people on Wall Street weren't born there! 🙂  I will get back to the connecting possibilities in Part 4 when I discuss "Activities and Achievements" but for now let me know what you think and if you haven't updated your resume get to it!  Sometimes the only job security you have is an updated resume… 

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