5 Lessons Learned from My Recent Failed Interviews.

Tips and Tricks you should know

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Even though passing the OA and the technical round there has been a lot of time when I have been stuck in the HR or even the CEO round. Being an undergrad Student getting a Software Developer Job is already complicated but getting rejected in the final round is even worse.

Hello, I am Ashish Maurya a B.TECH undergrad and a self-taught web developer. Before I start I want to let the readers know about my technical background. I have been building frontend Web apps for almost 2 years now with a full-time college education as well as I have shipped multiple projects like Mapify, Blogtiplee, etc. I have also worked as a Freelance as well as an Intern for several startups.

You might realize even after these kinds of experiences and qualifying all the Technical Rounds why I was rejected in the Final/CEO rounds. Well, the problem is CEOs are not looking for other tech guys as everyone who applied almost has the same technical skill as you. But CEOs are looking for something else which is mostly a cultural fit for their company or something special.

Here are the top 5 Lessons I learned and Questions I have been asked.

Top 5 Lessons

1. Tell me about yourself

Well, this seems like a very easy and harmless question one can ask, which is mostly asked to make the candidate more comfortable but this is a very good opportunity to let them really know about you and how you are the best fit for the company.

Instead of saying old boring things and telling them what is already on your resume tell them something which is not and actually is important for them to know to assess you.

Here is my 1 penny tip for you.

Divide this question into 4 parts, The Present You, The Environment, Strength / Weakness and Unique Trait

4 Pillar of you

1. Present You

Often time we get lost telling the employer what we were and about our past and maybe our previous Jobs well that might work for you if you are already from a similar background you are applying for but in case of a switch, it's not a really good Idea.

e.g If you are coming from a non-tech background it's probably not a good idea to keep telling them about your previous jobs which can become very irrelevant and might make the employer uninterested in you.

Instead of that tell them what you are Right Now. Maybe you took a boot camp and build a blogging website that has 1000s of users, It's good to talk about that which gives employers a sense of your capability and what you can offer to this position.

2. The Environment

The work environment matters a lot for a person to work efficiently, for a company to thrive it's important for the employees to be accustomed to the certain work environment. The work environment can be anything from a very fast-paced work environment to a totally async/remote work environment. It's better to tell the environments you have worked in already and are comfortable with to give them a better understanding of yourself.

Here is what is usually said,

I have previously worked with some freelance clients as well as small startups in a totally async as well as sync remote environment and delivered the result timely with high quality

This kind of line let employers know that you are pretty comfortable working remotely if they are looking for a remote position.

3. Strength and Weakness

Well, people usually wait for this to be asked by the employer but instead of that, you can slip this thing in a way that feels natural as well as gives a strong sense about you to the Employer.

For the people who are not sure about their strengths and weakness, you can take Gallup Strengths finder OA to know about that. It is a very known methodology so is well respected by most employers.

here is an example I come up with.

I like to think of myself as a problem solver and a thinker. I try to wrap up my head around the new concepts and technologies which I think will be a good fit for your team and the company.

4. Your Unique Trait

This is something that is only unique to yourself and believe me everyone has their own unfair advantage in this work you just have to find that and bring that in front of the employer as something they should have in their team. It can be anything like your Working experience in a different sector, your research about human behavior, or anything.

If you still can't find what is your unique trait/ Unfair Advantage here is a really good book you should read.

The Unfair Advantage.png

2. Be Early - The 10 Min Rule

This is a very important rule you should always keep in mind, being punctual goes a long way long enough that it can be appreciated and counted as a major quality. Besides no one want a slacker to join their company until you are Mark Zuckerberg

There was one time when I joined 2-3 min late and from that point I knew that I am not gonna get his Job at all. I showed that I am not punctual and responsible about time and deadlines.

After that encounter, I came up with the 10 min rule for myself

10 min rule

I came up with this 10 min rule that I try ready myself 10 min before any interview. I usually divide the time into two parts 5-5 min each for the first 5 min I check for all the technical failures that can happen. Usually, it's mic testing, video testing, and also the internet connection, and the rest 5 min I dedicate to keeping myself calm and composed I pull up the research I have done about the company and everything else which might be relevant for the interview.

My Interview Experience with Toptal.

In the screening round of the Toptal, it was very important that I should now be late or that can result in a ban from their platform, but I didn't know being on time would also be appreciated and rewarded. Because of this behavior and others, I was moved to the next round of interviews even though I was lacking the YOE.

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?

This is one of the most important answers of all and you should clearly and calmly think about it and understand what the employer is trying to ask you.

A couple of times I have messed this one by saying I want to start my own company or go for higher studies etc. Which is a major turn off and why would it not be after some time and research I realized where I was wrong. To understand what to answer we need to understand what goes on in their mind when they ask that question.

What goes into the mind?

A company put a lot of resources, time, and efforts to select a candidate and they want someone who is willing to work for them as well as willing to stay and bring growth to their company instead of treating them as a stepping stone who going to leave in just 1-2 years. So they want clients who can stay and bring something to the table for their company and help them to grow in certain ways.

Remember this when forming your answer.

Here is what you should answer

Key Points here

  • Make sure you are assuring them that you are going to stay
  • You have no other commitments except to grow in their organization
  • You are not looking forward to opening a startup or pursuing higher studies.

4. Tell me about a time .........

Well, this is a tricky one and I had a lot of trouble finding solutions to this one it does have any road map toward how to talk but try to bring/make circumstances or examples in your head and then answer it.

The examples or circumstance does not have to be something related to the field you are in but it can be from anywhere as long as it is relevant to the question.

For e.g

Tell me about a time when you convinced your colleagues to go on board with your idea.

Well, now someone who does not have relevant experience might think they are not qualified to answer it but instead of thinking about the question in a work environment. Think of a time when you convinced all your friends to do a trip of your choice or something similar to it. Use this information for the above questions.

In this type of question, you have to be creative. I meant VERY VERY creative.

5. Be Optimistic and Trust the process

Well, there is no better way of saying this but even after everything you might not get the job or might not get to the next round, and I know how daunting and traumatic it can be believe me I have and going through similar things but despite of all be optimistic about it.

Not every organization deserves you.

Not all the jobs you applied for deserving you and can be the best fit for you. Trust the process and keep moving forward and you will get to it.


All the best to folks looking for the Jobs out there hope it helps.

This is Ashish Signing off.

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