4.4.1 Do’s

  1. Start your preparation early, even way before you start looking for your first job.
  2. Get someone to refer you. The world runs on social capital. Many companies have a huge backlog of resumes and the chance of a random resume getting through the crack is slim. Having a referral won’t help you get a job that you aren’t qualified for, but will fast track you into the pipeline. For tips on how to get people to refer you, see the Appendix: Building your network.
  3. Reach out to people in your network to let them know of your job search and discover opportunities.
  4. Find a group of people who’re also interviewing and keep each other updated with your progress. It’s helpful to know what is being asked to get a sense of what the industry cares about. It’s also reassuring to know that you aren’t alone.
  5. Have friends give you mock interviews. You can pick questions, both technical and non-technical, from this book for those sessions.
  6. Invest time in open-source projects and publish your code on GitHub. This strengthens your resume and helps other people find you.
  7. Update your LinkedIn.
  8. Keep up to date with new technologies and best practices. Take courses. Read books and in-depth technical blog posts.
  9. Write in-depth technical blog posts.
  10. Join Kaggle competitions and read Kaggle kernels to understand how the winning teams do it. It can give you a rough understanding of what tools and techniques are being used to solve practical problems. Here’s a useful guide on how to get started with Kaggle competitions by Will Koehrsen (2018).
  11. Ask questions on StackExchange and StackOverflow. These websites are amazing. You can post the most random questions and some good Samaritan on the Internet will probably spend an evening writing a detailed 3000-word answer to it.
  12. Read Glassdoor reviews for each company you apply to.
  13. Review all your previous work, at least what you’ve put on your resume. Interviewers might want to know all the details.
  14. Before your interviews, do a few coding exercises to get your brain into the problem-solving mode.
  15. Ask your recruiter for information on your interviewers so you can look up their areas of interest. Not all companies let you know in advance, but few would refuse if you ask.
  16. Don’t mention anything you can’t be accountable for. Everything you mention in an interview will be fair-game for the interviewer to ask. For example, if you say that you’ve taken a course that covers LDA, the interviewer might ask you to explain LDA.
  17. Think out loud. Employers are interested in not only your solutions but also how you approach a problem.
  18. If you encounter a term you’re not familiar with during interviews, ask for an example.
  19. Ask questions. The interview process is a two-way street -- not only a company evaluates whether you’re a fit but you also evaluate whether you want to work for that company. If you don’t ask questions, companies might think you’re not interested.
  20. Listen to the interviewer’s feedback and accept their help. Interviewers want to know how well you work with others (in this case, the interviewer).
  21. Ask your interviewer what skills they are trying to assess so you can tailor your answers.
  22. Check your references55.
  23. Interview at a lot of companies to get practice before interviewing for your dream job.
  24. The best time to interview is when you don’t need a job. Even if you don’t have any immediate plan to leave your current job, it’s useful to schedule interviews with a couple of companies to see what is out there and brush up on your interviewing skills.
  25. Have competing offers.
  26. Think of interviews as part of the learning process. A rejection isn’t much different from getting a question wrong. You get it wrong now doesn’t mean you’ll always get it wrong.
  27. Thank the interviewers for their time and solicit feedback.

55: A candidate excelled in interviews but got rejected because all his references mentioned that he was a bad team player.

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