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In 2022 one of the best senior Java developers I knew reached out to me about leaving his current company, where he had been for a decade, and asked if I knew anyone hiring. Instantly I let the recruitment team where I work know and got him into the process to work with us. I had worked with him before, I had seen him on stage at events, and I knew he had the right personality to make a big impact on the business. I KNEW he would get hired.

Except he failed the coding interview.

I genuinely was shocked; so shocked that I did something that in 20 years of work, I had not done before… I assumed the interviewers were wrong, and escalated so that he could get a second chance. And he did get a second chance, and wouldn’t you know it, I was proven to be a fool – because he failed the coding interview again… it was the same question too!

I spoke to my friend about it, I read the interviewer’s notes and concluded that despite everything I knew about my friend, the skill that he lacked was the ability to interview. We were his first (two) interviews in a decade, and he just handled it in the way one would handle a meeting.

As I am a fool, should’ve expected this since I have a belief that I have held since 2013, always be open to an interview. You can love your job, but if you get an offer to interview – take it. I have lost track of how many interviews I have done in the 11 years since this realisation, and I have had the full gambit of experiences from rejection to offer letters… in that time I have only taken 2 roles. It sounds like a waste of time to do hundreds of interviews and get nothing for it, even if you love your job, but I do not think it is.

First, as with my friend, interviewing is a skill and like any skill it needs to be practiced being kept up to date. This skill includes not being stressed, and doing more interviews helps with that which leads to a better understanding of what is being asked and allows you to demonstrate your skills better. In tech, especially, the language we use, and tools change often, and being able to speak to the state-of-the-art is important; especially if you have been in a company and working on one tech stack or architectural design for a long time. Equally so as you grow, you need to know what questions will be asked of you so you can practise your own answers to them and find the anecdotes and examples you will share to show your experience.

The second reason is market data cause like anything, it is only worth what someone will pay for it and interviewing will give you real-world data on how what you earn today compares to the market. The same is true for demand as you can see how many roles for your preferred skill or level are there. When it comes to discussions about salary in your own organisation, being armed with real-world data will help you have realistic expectations.

The third reason is improving your own company’s hiring process. I cannot explain how many terrible interview processes I have seen, and it totally has put me off working with that company, but I have seen many good interviews too. And I have taken those ideas and shared them where I work. This has allowed the companies I work with to have amazing interview processes.

This obviously is not without risk, people you work with may jump to incorrect conclusions about your happiness based on hearing that you are interviewing. To solve this, I have always been open with my managers always about and told them that they will never be blindsided by me leaving; if I ever find something better, I commit to discussing it with them ahead of time. Some of my best managers have totally bought into it, and I think that talks strongly to their confidence in providing a great environment to work and effort in building trust with their reports.

So, in summary, I do encourage you to get your CV on OfferZen, set yourself to “Open to Work” on LinkedIn and sharpen that interview skill… just tell your manager first.