Fast Track to Tech: Job Searching, Applying, Interviewing
Overview of Job Searching, Applying & Interviewing for Tech Roles
Interested in working for companies like AirBnB and Google? This post summarizes key takeaways from YNCN’s Job Searching, Applying, and Interviewing event held on October 19, 2020, as the last part of the Fast Track to Tech Series. The series aimed to provide students with an introduction to the tech industry and common roles (your major does not matter!) such as software engineer, product manager, and designer.
The recording is available here. Slides are available here. You can check out our other Fast Track to Tech Medium articles on our profile YNCN (You’re Next Career Network) for recording and slides of our previous events, How to Get Tech Jobs and Introduction to Tech Roles.
As a supplement to the recording and slides linked above, here are some common questions we received during the event that we thought would be helpful to capture here.
I’ve been trying to get a new grad job since Sept with no luck getting interviews. What platforms are you using to apply for jobs? What are some tips?
During the workshop, we went over setting up LinkedIn job alerts. LinkedIn is a good place to find out about roles in general because outside of LinkedIn Jobs, you can also follow recruiters for companies you care about or search for “hiring” to find people who wrote “we are hiring” in their LinkedIn headline.
The Github links and apmlist.com mentioned during the workshop are also good websites to check out for links to internships and new grad roles (linked in Resources below).
There are a couple of important factors for getting your application seen. Firstly, it makes a huge difference if you apply early to the role (within the first few days of the role opening). Second, it’s good to check your resume through a resume parser like the ones mentioned during the workshop (also linked below as a resource). Third, sometimes having a referral to the company you are applying to can help. This is less in your control than the other two tips, so use this to boost your application in conjunction with those tips.
How long will it take to prep for a PM Interview from scratch?
For this question, we’re going to assume that you’ve already gathered experience and gotten past the resume screen. If you haven’t read Cracking the PM Interview, definitely take a day or two to read (or skim) the book, as it gives a good baseline for PM interviewing.
Although there are many approaches, in the workshop, one of the presenters mentioned the process she went through. The 2 questions you’re almost guaranteed to get are “tell me about yourself” and “why do you want to work at our company?”, so she revised and practised her answer for those following the guidelines in the book, Cracking the PM Interview. She then found common behavioural interview questions online and listed out key situations she faced in her previous experiences that matched up to those in a STAR format. See YNCN’s Interviewing Guide for more information on the STAR format. This took her a couple of days.
After that, she looked up common types of PM questions and frameworks to guide her studying. PM questions tend to fall in certain categories (estimation, evaluate why a metric has decreased, product strategy, technical, behavioural). She watched videos on Youtube from the channel Exponent that had mock interview videos covering these topics (along with articles on their website for more information). She spent two days on this as well.
Beyond the above, it’s important to practice product questions on your own and do 3–5 mock interviews. Books like Decode and Conquer are good for practice questions. You can also make product questions a daily exercise, by looking at a product and analyzing its users and how you could improve the product for a segment of users by alleviating a pain point for them. This part of the preparation process can take as long as you want it to, depending on how much time you have before your interview.
When prepping for software engineering interviews, what is your strategy for working through Leetcode problems? (i.e. go through easy, medium, then hard array questions, then do the same for recursion, etc)
During the workshop, one presenter shared their approach. Again, there are multiple approaches. The presenter went through topics without looking for a specific difficulty (tried a variety of questions). Depending on how you learn, it may be valuable for you to check the answers after some time to learn how you would have completed the question and move on to another one. He focused on system design less as system design questions are generally not asked for internships, but we have linked a resource below for those.
What skill level is required to be “prepared” for an internship?
Don’t worry, you’re not expected to know everything and be an expert coming into a role. Especially when joining a new company and team, managers allocate time to help you onboard and complete your initial training.
With an internship or new grad role, they know you have limited experience and are expecting to spend time training and mentoring you. If it makes you feel better, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on some skills depending on what you’ll be doing in your internship. A lot of things are learnable on the job though, and there’s always someone who is willing to help you when you have questions.
- Resume Guide
- itsjafer.com/#/parser (resume parser used by applicant tracking system that checks your resume when you submit it to companies)
- resumeworded.com (resume parser that shows you what an applicant tracking system would think of your resume)
- Interview Guide
- Cracking the Coding Interview, Cracking the PM Interview — Gayle Laakmann McDowell
- For PM: Decode and Conquer — Lewis C. Lin
- Grokking the System Design Interview
- Exponent Youtube Channel (mock interview videos)
Internship Lists and Salary Estimates
- https://apmlist.com (for Product Management roles specifically)
- https://levels.fyi/internships (salary estimates)