Landing a job offer through a side project

A brief introduction

I have been programming since 2012, primarily in PHP, Javascript, MySQL. I did an internship and worked full-time for a year or so as a Business Intelligence consultant in India and figured out that it wasn’t for me.

Interviewing Numbers

  1. Screening call with a Recruiter (sometimes a small automated code challenge, but I didn’t receive any)
  2. Technical call
  3. Take home or coding challenge
  4. Review from Step 4 / call with the team I would be joining
  5. Offer

Stage one

Picked out six interesting companies (small to mid-ranged sized) in Berlin, looked them up on Linkedin or Kununu, checked their own careers page, and applied. The only one that didn’t get back was for the application via Linkedin — most likely lost in a sea of applicants.

Stage two: 30-minute screen calls

Initial calls were either from an internal or external recruiter who worked for the company. Spoke about work experience, why I’m leaving my current job, why I’m keen on joining the company, what piques my interest in the job description, how flexible their remote (home-office) policy is.

Stage three: Technical call

Usually a discussion over the things I have worked with, tools I have experience with and tools that I don’t. A fairly relaxed conversation where we both got an overview of how we generally built & deliver software, how we handle when things go wrong, a little bit of high-level system design (no whiteboard, trivia, or grilling!)

  • Backend — built on Laravel, powered by Elasticsearch, familiarity with Docker
  • Database design, tradeoffs, Redis Queues
  • If I have any AWS or Cloud experience, which I don’t have a lot of — I was upfront about
  • CI/CD Pipelines and experience with Unit and Feature tests

Stage four: Take home or coding challenge

We’re at the exciting part that programmers in Tech love to talk about (apart from their disgust for PHP). In 2018, I did several coding challenges and take-home projects which companies mention take a couple of hours.

Stage five: Review/Call with team

This round was initially supposed to be a review of the take-home or coding challenge. Since that round didn’t happen, we spoke a bit more with a different engineer from the company. With one company, there was a casual chat with the team for 30 minutes.

Stage six: Offer

HR called back within 2–4 days after the last call. We spoke about the €€€, the benefits (in detail), remote flexibility and a starting date. The entire process for all companies happened in 3 weeks and the company I accepted the offer for took around a week. Quick turnaround and feedback from all companies involved kept this a smooth process.

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