Maybe you've made the decision to leave your job and are on an active search for your next gig. Or maybe you're passively looking to see what's out there. Either way, it's very likely that your first interaction with your next potential company is going to be with a non-technical person. For smaller companies, you might talk directly with the CEO or founder. For bigger companies it'll likely be a head of talent or technical recruiter.
Regardless, the first gate you have to get through is likely going to be with someone who doesn't write code.
Take me, for example. I've been running tech companies for 20 years and at Stride I did the initial phone screens until we hired a Head of Talent. Now she does all the initial phone screens. Neither of us write code, yet here we are, making decisions on which developers to move into the next phase of our interview process.
So, how can you ace this initial screen with a non-developer? As someone who's interviewed thousands upon thousands of developers, here are some things I look for. If you keep these five guidelines in mind, I guarantee you'll increase your odds of acing this step in the hiring process:
- Know who you are talking to. Last week, a candidate responded one of Stride's job postings from Stack Overflow. I liked what I saw and set up a phone call. After 15 minutes of me asking questions, I said, "Tell me what questions you have for me". The first question this candidate asked was, "What's your role at Stride"? Wow. This developer emailed me and I responded with two sentences and my signature, which includes my title and a link to our site. The fact that this candidate didn't know my role told me he didn't really care too much about Stride and he obviously wasn't someone I wanted on my team. Spend at least 15 minutes researching the person you will be talking to. What's their role at the company? How long have they been there? Do you share any connections on LinkedIn? Maybe you both went to the same school or have something else in common.
Of course, following the above guidelines is just the tip of the iceberg to ace a phone interview. More than anything, remember to be honest and candid with both the interviewer and yourself. It speaks volumes to your character and ability to work with people of myriad skill sets -- two of the qualities most valued by decision makers outside of the development sphere.
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