How To Get Hired: It’s A Game

Coders are such a different lot than us media people, but programmer Sean Grove’s story might prove instructive nonetheless.

After finding himself stranded in Mountain View and urgently needing to find a job, he sent out 50 applications, receiving email responses from most, asking for answers to coding questions or brainteasers (you know, the “how many golf balls can fit in a school bus” things).

He did well enough to get phone screenings from 40 companies. Practiced with a friend doing mock interview questions and ultimately passed 25 of those interviews.

“Of course, once you go through ~15 of these interviews, it’s no accident when you start to solve the problem in a more and more optimized way. After each failed interview, I’d ask for the right answer, and what they thought their right answer indicated. Learned a lot of interesting tips, and also the right words to casually mention during future interviews,” Grove writes. “Each and every interview was an experiment = given this input, what’s the output? How did that vary from the last? What are the typical questions that pop up? Somehow many people who asks these pet questions feels like they’re asking it for the first time and are blown away when you solve it properly – which is much easier to do the second or third time around… and certainly the 15th time.”

He used those “practice” interviews to help him prepare for his next set of 25 in-person interviews, and thanks to all that practice, received 6 job offers and ultimately the one he wanted.

It’s certainly a lot easier to get a “right” answer when you’re talking about programming something, but it’s also true that the more interviews you go on the more prepared you are to ace an interview.

“It’s a game,” says Grove. We don’t know about that, but getting hired is certainly a numbers game.