Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Recounting of My Interview

Some of you know that last Friday I had an interview with a company that seemed a lot more excited about the prospect of hiring me than any other.  Of course that in turn made me a lot more excited about meeting with them than I had been with other companies AND (here's the good part) a lot more excited because the type of work I would be doing greatly appeals to me.

The interview process always makes me laugh.  Here you've got a few hours to try and gauge whether or not someone can be an asset to your company, something you can probably really only learn by working with them for a few months.  Of course by then you're out their salary and the resources taken to train them.  I think more and more (especially in a technical background) companies are checking for a select few things.  1). You are not an asshat, lying, or misrepresenting yourself.  2). You have either some technical background and familiarity with their business.  3). You have the capacity to grow and learn in the areas you might not necessarily be as strong.

The position for which I was interviewed may be the one that has least matched my schooling and experience so far.  It is a different type of engineering than I majored in or worked in, but it may also be the position for which I am the best fit.  I tried to make both sides of that abundantly clear; yes there is a lot to the job that is new to me...BUT...I have experience with this, this, and this so I can definitely hit the ground running if you hire me.  (At the end of the day it isn't about getting a job, it's about getting a job that is a good fit for both parties.  A lot of interview tips suggest bending the truth and selling out to get a job...I do not do this.)

I sat down with human resources to get some company background, which was good because it got me warmed up for the technical parts of the interview.  It'd been a while since I'd interviewed at all so it was a good low pressure primer.  Then I was introduced to the technical directors/hiring managers to talk job specifics.  The questions were pretty typical, what have you done before, where are your strengths, how do you feel about the work we do here, etc.  My goal was to take a few of the things I'd done previously and show how they prepared me for work at this company, which I think I accomplished pretty well.  Being able to banter well enough about a business I'd never worked in to be able to take a look at the technical documents on a few of their previous projects I think made me look really attractive as a potential hire.

After that I sat down with four of the cube folks, i.e. the actual engineers, people who I would be sharing responsibilities and working with.  Again my goal was to take my relevant experience and use it to show that even though I'd be coming into a new field, I'd be coming in with some decent background knowledge, and again I think is succeeded.

Here is where a few things started to jump out at me.  First, this company is easily the friendliest and most laid back that I've seen.  (I guess if you're as busy as they have been, you start to go crazy if you don't have that sort of attitude.)  They also seemed to be very comfortable with my lack of experience, reiterating that most of the things I didn't know could really only be learned on the job anyways.  Two of the four took me on a tour of the facilities, with which I was very impressed.  It's also new to have the manufacturing process on site so you can literally walk a hundred feet and see what you've specified being made.  It's nice when a company recognizes that they have to sell themselves to prospective employees, even in a bad economy.  Most don't.

What I liked:
  • I'd be doing a lot of writing.
  • There are a lot of others with similar experience.  Being the only new guy sucks.
  • They're committed to growing my skills.
  • There is no shortage of work.
  • The company has extremely high rating across the board in safety, finances, diversity, dedication, and keeping their employees happy.

What I didn't like:
  • I haven't gotten any good information on company benefits yet.
  • They're in the midst of some restructuring (splitting into three divisions because they're TOO diverse and TOO financially strong to keep everything under one banner).  While this isn't necessarily a bad thing (and will be a good thing in the long run) it does create some headaches.
  • The typical shift is 8-5.  This is semantics, but I'd prefer to work a 7-4.
  • It's not in Buffalo.

Almost certain I'll be accepting an offer if it comes.

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