The search for a new tech job can be daunting.
Sitting in a room for 4-6 hours in a stretch while a new person comes in with a whole new set of questions every 30-60 minutes. Interviewers dig into code, setup discussions around code quality and delivery, and tailor their questions to draw out your preferred work style. Agile or waterfall? Heads down with headphones? Outspoken team motivator? Do you prefer technical design documents, or getting to work after a 20-minute whiteboard session?
Companies spend a lot of time trying to determine if you will be that next rock star employee: delivering code, gelling with your co-workers, adding to the work environment, and discovering if your values are in alignment with their own.
Point Inside hiring managers, Marketing and Human Resources departments meet every week to discuss and refine best practices in recruiting so that we make the best decisions we can in hiring. Our aim, just like any other tech company, is purely selfish: to hire the next 10Xer. We want our employees, and that next hire, to be the best at what they do and add to our culture because that’s how we continuously evolve down the path of success.
But what about your values? Your drivers? What matters most to you in your search? How do you interview your potential new employer to find a great fit for you?
Too often, I’ve seen candidates boil down their wish list into three centralized points: what is the salary for the position? Which technologies will I be working with in this role? Or, can you tell me about the health and retirement benefits?
I am not a developer, and sometimes have issues with my computer that make the IT departments’ collective eyes roll, but I admit I’ve been guilty of putting too much focus on the salary and benefits questions in the past. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with a business twist, anyone? Granted, as a candidate, these three questions are important points you should weigh when choosing a new employer. But there are many factors you need to consider above and beyond these three questions. After all, you’re going to spend a decent amount of time with these people each week, so how can you decipher if it’s going to be a good match? However, how much importance, or how you stack rank, these other items is entirely dependent on what you prefer in a workplace.
For some it may go without saying, but with every engagement and satisfaction survey Point Inside has utilized, we’ve determined that the most important values are the ones not at all related to compensation or the specific technology stack.
What matters most are the intangible qualities present in the culture. In our weekly recruiting meetings, we hear time and again, that these intangible qualities are also echoed in the decisions that made someone go from candidate to new hire. So, what are the intangible qualities that you should consider? And, how do you incorporate them into your strategy to determine what employer will work best for you?
Beyond comp packages and tech stacks, the intangible qualities are centered around four notions: sharing of information, accessibility, impact, and work environment.
When sitting across your potential new manager in your next interview loop, ask him/her how often the company holds company-wide, departmental, or ad hoc town hall meetings. What kind of information is shared at those meetings? Does management keep their cards close to the vest, or do they share information about where the company is going, including during the not-so-sexy times?
These questions are for you to determine how much you want or feel you need to know to perform your job. If you prefer information beyond vision and mission statements, and quarterly plans, determine how much this matters to you and ask these questions during your next interview.
How about accessibility? Will you have direct and timely access to connect with your manager, skip-level manager, senior management or CEO? A lot of companies say they have an “open door policy,” but what does that look like in practice for the company you’re speaking with? If it matters, ask how does management go about maintaining some of that startup behavior in periods of growth?
Before you go to your next interview, ask yourself if having accessibility to management is important to you. Does a whiteboard or product development session with your team and next layer of management sound attractive to you? Does this fuel your work?
How impactful can you be with your potential new employer? Does the thought of contributing code on your start date or shortly after dismay you, or motivate you? Do you prefer for your contributions to come with time and knowledge of the company’s processes, or do you like for your work to make an immediate impact?
Once you determine where you lie on this spectrum, ask the people who will be your colleagues about the impact they’ve made and how soon that came for them. Their answers will inform you of how much emphasis the company places on employees making an impact. If “red tape” isn’t your thing, it will also let you know if the company places a heavy significance on process.
Finally, communication and collaboration are some of the key components of the work environment.
First, ask yourself, how much does communication and collaboration matter in your work? Do you look for your employer to set a tone of team building, camaraderie, and brainstorming? While you get an office tour, survey the office layout: is it an open floor plan? Do you see employees collaborating in the open? Is it quiet and is everyone heads down? Or, do you see employees communicate freely about work and non-work related items? After you stack rank how much the work environment matters to you, ask the people you meet with how the company instills these things in its employees. To the degree that your potential new employer promotes its work environment, how will it impact your work?
While a company’s capabilities and practices around sharing of information, accessibility, impact and work environment don’t pay the bills, these are the intangibles that when in alignment with your own values can make your work more meaningful and rewarding. The interview loop is a process where you can easily walk away feeling like you didn’t have all of the right answers.
The benefit of asking yourself how much you value these intangibles before speaking with an employer is that you are able to interview the company to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Each company and position will have its pros and cons, but it’s more than compensation - it’s about the entire package of the company’s culture that will motivate and inspire you to do your best - something not able to be matched by any amount of money or fringe benefits.
In 2014, Point Inside helped our retail partners provide over 100 million shoppers with answers to the most important questions they have in-store, “Do you have it?” and “Where can I find it?” Top retailers like Lowe’s and Target have implemented the company’s digital in-store product location solutions, increasing customer engagement and sales. Based in downtown Bellevue, Point Inside is growing rapidly with open positions in mobile, IT, big data, search, and more. Check out www.pointinside.com/careers to learn more.