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Mindful Job Search: Myths and Psychology of Interviewing

Published 10/27/2021

We continue talking about conducting a mindful job search in today's episode.

The truth is, that next application you put in is probably not going to end in an accepted offer. Whether by your decision or theirs, most job applications go nowhere. In this episode we'll talk about how to deal with this reality, as well as some other myths of interviewing.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
We are continuing our discussion on conducting a mindful job search in this episode. If you missed out on the first episode, make sure you go back and listen to it. In it, I ask whether or not it's even time to start looking for a job. And generally speaking, my recommendation is that you should always have your eyes and your ears open. Very few opportunities are going to line up perfectly when you decide that it's time to start looking. Most of the time opportunities are going to interrupt you. That's again, just a function of statistics. If you just have your open window for when you want to be looking and that window is only open for a couple of months, it's very possible that a job that you would very much enjoy and be happy to leave your current situation for you may miss. So I want to talk about this mindful job search. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. In this episode, I will assume that you have decided to stay open to interviewing. This doesn't mean it would be very clear about this. It doesn't mean that you are actively trying to leave your current job. Understand that there's a difference here. It's possible to both stay at your current job and continue interviewing for other jobs. Some people feel like this is a conflict, but the truth is you can learn a lot purely through that interview process that can even benefit your current job. It can help clarify things for you as well. So I will assume you've decided to stay open to interviewing. Here's another important reason why it makes sense to do this with your current job fully intact. And that's because I want you to avoid searching for a job under pressure. We rarely do I make explicit statements like this. Do not search for a job under pressure. We mentioned this in the last episode, but staying out of pressured situations does a lot for your job search, not to mention your mental health. But I want to focus in on this specific aspect to kind of build an argument for this, for the first minute or two here. If you're under pressure, you are more likely to make a decision simply because you feel like you are running out of time. Think about this for a second. Our feeling of scarcity pushes us to make decisions that are rash. And it may not necessarily just be time. It could be money or it could be the sense that the job market is uniquely open right now. And if you don't take advantage of it, then you might miss that opportunity. Whatever the case is, it's possible that you will make a decision that if you weren't under pressure, you would never have made it. You would not have made it. And on the scale of fast versus slow thinking, this kind of decision is definitely one that benefits from slower thinking. And you might be tempted to believe that the people you're talking to will pick up on your calm state. They'll see that you're not like gunning for the job. You're not trying to get it as hard as you can, willing to give things up. They will read, you might think that they're going to read that as a lack of interest in the position or possibly a lack of motivation. But I want you to consider the meaning of that interpretation. In other words, what does it mean if that person believes that? If the hiring person wants someone who is making a decision under pressure, why? Why would they want that? Usually speaking, someone who is making a decision under pressure is willing to give things up. And for the person who wants that, they are likely using this to gain an advantageous negotiating position. In other words, you're less likely to get more of what you want out of your offer. Aside from the fact that you are disadvantaged by this, you also probably don't want to start a working relationship with someone who is trying to win you over through pressure. But I want to back up for a second. Hopefully you agree at this point now that you shouldn't be making these decisions under pressure. I want to back up for a second and talk about the psychology of interviewing. We aren't going to cover the whole picture. There's no way we could do that on this episode of the show. We could talk more about interviewing and intricate, intricacies and details of specific kinds of interview rounds and that kind of thing. What do you do, for example, in an initial tech interview versus when you're meeting a team versus when you're talking to, let's say, the CTO or a VP of engineering? These are all completely different situations and your interactions are going to be completely different in each of those rounds. But I want to talk about some of the major misconceptions people have about interviews. But before we do that, I want to take a moment to talk about today's sponsor, Square. You know who Square is. At least if you listen to this podcast, you probably do. And even if you don't, you might know them from their payment devices, the little white card readers at farmers markets and the credit card machines and your favorite coffee shop. You've probably seen Square even if you don't actually recognize the name. Squares are already trusted by millions of sellers worldwide. They have APIs for running every aspect of a business and they're now making them available to developers. With a simple rest call, you can tap into Square's enterprise grade customer point of sale APIs to manage employees, organize customer data, generate invoices and gift cards and even create loyalty programs. And even better, there's no cost to Developer To use these APIs. You can try out Square's CPS APIs today for a chance to win $20,000 in the build what is possible hackathon. That's POS the bull hackathon for more information and a register go to squ.ri slash cps. That's squ.ri slash cps. Thanks again to Square for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. Let's talk about some of these misconceptions about interviews. One misconception. Job requirements are very meaningful and are going to be tested day in and day out. Really hearing that, if you already have gone through this process, you've already had a job. You hopefully you remember that you probably didn't have everything on that job requirements list. It's hard to find people who have every single item on that requirements list because it's very unlikely that everyone has all of that experience. Even if they do have all of that experience, it's also much more likely that they have additional experience and they're moving on to something beyond this particular job position. The truth is job requirements are often written to attract candidates just as much as they are written to filter candidates. Let's think about this for a second. If your job requirements are written to attract candidates, then it's completely possible that there are a lot of extra things in those job requirements that aren't necessarily meant to be all encompassing for things that you must have. Instead, these are written to attract people to apply for the job if they have one or more of those particular requirements. Treat virtually all job requirements as match points or basically compatibility level up. If you have more of them, it's better, but don't let job requirements rule you out. If you don't have all of the job requirements, don't let that keep you from applying for the job. Here's the critical thing to understand. Applying for the job is a very low effort at least initially, a very low effort process. Applying for the job, the worst thing that can happen, again, is that you just don't hear back. And so if you don't hear back because you don't have those requirements, that's no big deal. It's unlikely that that is the reason that you didn't hear back, but there's very little loss in that. Another myth. Your interview is a scrutinizing test of your skills and as long as your skills are better than the next person, you win. This is wrong on two dimensions. First of all, that your interview is a scrutinizing test of your skills and secondly, that as long as your skills are better than the next person, you're going to get the job above them. Interviews are a mix of many things. Technical interviews are usually intended to help determine how a person reacts to problems. Their skills in those technical problems and evaluate those. In-person interviews are much less about skill checking and much more about communication and they focus on connecting with the people you're talking to. Ultimately, interviews are much less tactically managed than we expect them to be. A lot of this, in my opinion, is due to the way that we think about tests or that we think about, for example, acceptance criteria tests in school specifically. How we go through that grading process. Most interview processes are not nearly as refined as we might intuitively think that they are. Most of them don't have a grading process, especially when you're talking about younger companies, startups, etc. Most of the time, those interviews are judged with something as simple as a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down process with the interviewing committee. Another myth that you might believe about job interviews is that if you don't get an offer, you did poorly. This is probably the most intuitively difficult one to grasp, is that this is a myth that if you don't get an offer, then you didn't necessarily do poorly if you don't get an offer. Of course, that's possible that you didn't perform in that interview as well as you could have or as well as others did. It's also possible that somebody else was chosen by one extra vote, and the reasons could be difficult to understand. Something as simple as timing can cause your candidacy to be set aside in favor of someone else's candidacy. Maybe somebody else is willing to take less money than you. Maybe you've already had that conversation, and really they would like to hire you, but that person is willing to take less money than you're willing to take. It could actually even be that that person started the interviewing process before you did. There's a different kind of timing, but all of these reasons are completely plausible. They happen all the time, and it has no bearing on how well you did in the interview. Most companies are not going to give you insight into the decision-making process, why you did or didn't get an offer above someone else. With that said, it never hurts to ask for that feedback some companies are willing to provide that feedback. As you work your way through interviewing, you should be aware that by the way, it is statistically unlikely that you're going to be offered a job for any given single application. There's nothing to do with your skills, it's purely a function of statistics. If there are even two other people as qualified in all the areas as you are, and the interviewing process is perfectly fair, you still only have that one in three chance. In other words, statistically, you need at least two of those situations before you're likely to get an offer. There are ways to improve these odds. Of course, there are a ton of small practices that can be helpful, for example, sending thoughtful follow-up emails or even a handwritten letter can help bring you to top of mind. Follow the standard advice that you would expect to receive, like arriving on time, whether you're virtual or otherwise, and manage your presence in an appropriate manner. This might have used to have been called dressing for the job, but now there's a lot of considerations to make about what is appropriate for a given company, for a given culture. If you can, ask for personal referrals for someone who works at the company, and if the company is working with a recruitment system or something like that, take the time to talk in depth with those recruiters. All of these things are small things, and it's absolutely possible that everyone else that is in that kind of final round with you is also doing those things. Even if you do all of this stuff, the most important thing to remember is that as you go through your job hunting experience, most job applications, even with all of that effort, do not end in an accepted offer. Whether it's because you decided to turn the offer down, and it's possible that they didn't offer enough money. Maybe you have thought about your current job versus this job. Maybe you don't get the right feeling from the interviews that you had. Whatever the reason is, you decide to turn down the offer. Maybe an offer never even gets provided. Maybe you get a rejection. A job hunt will most often end this way in a parting of ways. If you know this going in, and you choose, once again, going back to our earlier recommendation of not entering this process in a pressured situation, if instead you're entering in a situation where you don't have pressure, you're much more likely to see things clearly, you have a little trouble in turning down offers or receiving rejections. This is all a part of the job search process. And being mindful while searching for a job means expecting that most of your job applications are not going to end in accepting a job offer. The job search is very tiring. You shouldn't take this on. Flippently, you shouldn't take it on under stress, as we've already mentioned, because it can absolutely take a toll. Especially if you are hoping to change your career, and you run up against multiple rejections more than maybe you would have expected even when you're preparing for it. This is a possibility. And as you seek your jobs and as you learn about what your possible employers want from you, keep in mind that each of these experiences is going to improve your chances in the future. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Developer Tea about a mindful job search. If you are more interested in this discussion about mindful job searches, which is a very important topic right now as the job market is incredibly active, then please send me a message at developerteagmail.com. You can also come and talk to me in the Developer Tea Discord community, head over to developertea.com slash discord. You can join that community totally free. There's a lot of discussion about these episodes and a lot of questions that people are facing practical issues in their jobs, in their day to day jobs. And you can talk about any of that stuff, you know, get advice from a bunch of other engineers and for me a lot of the time. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. Thank you again to today's sponsor square head over to squ.re slash cps. It's squ.re slash cps to join the build what's possible hackathon. This gives you a chance to win $20,000 and try out squares cps apis. Thanks again for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.