I am currently knee-deep into the job application and interview process. I had forgotten how tiresome and sometimes frustrating this process can be. But, I am also reminded of how much things have changed and improved in the last decade or so.
Now, there appears to be more opportunity and variety of employment. Though, this may be just because it is easier to access job postings. Job seekers and employers can find better matches leading to a better quality of life for the job seeker, which, in turn, tends to lead to happier and more productive workers.
Also, I can complete multiple job applications and interviews each day. But I remember when that wasn’t quite the case. An interview usually meant taking half a day to drive to the location, do the interview, and drive back. Doing back-to-back interviews wasn’t practical. While I find it easier to read body language in person, virtual interviews seem to be a more efficient use of time.
One interview, in particular, stands out. IIRC, it was for a software development position in a call center. They said there would be an in-person interview, a coding test, followed by a skills/aptitude test. The process was expected to take about ninety minutes.
Since I had a forty-five-minute drive, I blocked out four hours to drive to the location, check in with the scheduler, do the interviews and such, and head back home. Traffic worked in my favor, and I found myself in the parking lot fifteen minutes before my scheduled time. It is great to be prompt, but sometimes showing up too early can cause the interviewers to feel harried.
I spent at least ten minutes reviewing the job posting and my list of questions. I did one last appearance check before heading in. Once inside, I had to wait about fifteen minutes for the scheduler, who then gave me some paperwork to fill out. Then, I was directed to my interview location.
Actually, I was given coordinates to the location amid a cubicle farm. While I don’t mind working in cubicles, the “farm” was at least 15x15. It gave me a bit of an Office Space vibe. But, knowing that looks can be deceiving, I headed off to my coordinates to find my interviewers.
We talked for a bit. The interviewers described both the work and the environment. It sounded like they didn’t stray far from their own designated coordinates! They set me up on a spare computer for a coding test and left for their lunch break.
I don’t quite remember what the test was. I vaguely remember it having to do with reading in a flat file and displaying the information. It was supposed to simulate connecting to a database and extracting data. It took me maybe fifteen minutes to create a minimally viable product. But, since the interviewers were still out to lunch, I had to find something to do.
I did a few refactoring passes to get my code as readable as practical. Every file, class, method, and field had XML comments. I also had time to work on some documentation. When the interviewers came back, they spent a few minutes reviewing my code and asking more questions. Then, they sent me off to the aptitude test.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I, like many, get a bit of anxiety when I hear the word “test.” Part of being a software developer means being able to do research. While I may not know everything, I’m confident that I can research and resolve almost any problem.
The aptitude test was at a small bank of computers. I was given a sheet of instructions. I was supposed to find an Excel workbook on the network and save it to a different location using the date and my name as the new file name. After doing that, I opened up the workbook to start my test.
The workbook had a dozen or so different worksheets. Each worksheet tested different things. Most of the questions were multiple-choice, but I think there were a few fill-in-the-blank questions. Some of the worksheets covered fundamental word problems and math skills. Others covered the ability to find duplicate entries in a list of numbers. I also remember a worksheet on current US and world politics.
None of the questions tested my coding ability, though. I suspect that this was a general-purpose test given to everyone. I did note that not everyone had followed directions, as the last few worksheets already had answers. It appeared that someone had started the test without making a copy first and inadvertently saved over the master copy.
I finished my test and handed the instruction sheet back to the scheduler. I also mentioned that multiple worksheets already had answered filled in. The scheduler was nonplused and left it at that.
While that interview process wasn’t great for me me, I was still thankful for the opportunity. And, when I become impatient and tired with the current process, it serves as a reminder of how bad it used to be.