The ultimate interview preparation framework. Part 1: before it all starts

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Posted on 23.01.2022
Last updated on 11.02.2024
Image by Justin Ng on Unsplash

Finding a new place in a worthy company is not an easy thing to do. If you already have a company on your mind, don't event think a successful interview is something you can pull off during lunch break or next morning after throwing a huge party. You need to prepare yourself accordingly, it ain't easy walk.

Today I have decided to make a summary of my experience in cracking the interview process.

All the information below is not a silver bullet though. Nevertheless, I strongly encourage you to make your own roadmap. I hope these materials can be of help to achieve that. As long as you have a plan, and you don't skip steps, you will eventually prevail. Omitting some of the steps could (and probably will) ultimately cost you an offer. So better safe than sorry.

Ready? So let's do it!

Step 0: Finding a potential company to work for

We all have different reasons when it comes to choosing our next potential place of work. Some prefer startups with salaries slightly above the market, showing rapid growth, full of opportunities and risks. Other people might consider working for stable, solid and well-established companies, with good culture and perks, just to add a new shiny star to their CV.

My choice is to give a shot for the companies I am an active customer of. The reasons are:

  • 👉 I am already familiar with what the company is doing.
  • 👉 I already sort of know the product from the outside, and might even have proposals on how to make it better.
  • 👉 Since I am a customer, I am probably enjoying the product already. However, I can help the company to prosper even more by joining. Isn't that noble?

One way or another, we assume the company of your interest is found.

Step 1: High-level research

✅ Read through the company's blog

In the job description there is sometimes a bunch of links about the culture of the company, as well as the values. Usually, this is something the company's recruitment department thinks could be important for a candidate to follow before they mash the "Apply" button.

Don't think for too long, don't fall a victim of the paralysis by analysis. However, take your time and read it carefully, and then find answers to the following questions:

  • 👉 What are the company values, and what can I reply when I am asked whether I am aligned with the values or not?
  • 👉 What is the company's mission? Am I ready to make their mission mine too?
  • 👉 What kind of culture does the company propagate? Am I okay with it? Do I find it resonating with my own culture?

At first glance, all of it seems unimportant. However, in the modern world the relationships between an employer and an employee is slightly more complex, rather than just "Show me the money, and I'll show you the code!" In the long run, to be successful and, simply put - happy, you need all mentioned above to become a part of something bigger and greater.

✅ Check the salary range

The amount of compensation can be quite volatile in small startup, because the final salary could be decided by a CEO, whom you will most likely talk to during the final round. On the other hand, mature companies have hiring budgets for this particular hire, negotiated internally on certain levels.

Regardless of whether you are joining the company to earn or to learn, you should try searching for the insights on the level of compensation beforehand. Some of the job descriptions already contain maximum salaries for the position. If not, you can try and guess how much money a company is probably ready to pay using services like Levels.fyi or Glassdoor.

It surely depends on the case, but in my opinion, when making a move after a couple of years of work, it totally worth adding no less than 20% on-top of your current wadge. And don't forget the shares!

✅ Give company's products a try

Some well-established and well-known companies deliberately ask if the candidate tried something out. The worst answer of yours would be "Emmmm... not really, not yet, no, but I anyway want to work for you." If you haven't seen their product, or don't find it amazing, why do you want to work on it after all?

Almost every time there is a community version or a trial period available. Download and give it a shot, even just to get an overall impression and be able to support a brief conversation about it.

It's time to fill the application form out

Okay, so now that you made your research and told yourself "Yes, this is the one. My dream company", it is time to apply! Filling up the application form is a whole another story, but here are few tips.

  • 👉 Tailor you CV in order to make it more aligned with the opening you are applying for. Since I am a fullstack engineer, and positions are usually either front- or back-first, I have two versions of the same CV: front-inclined and back-inclined.
  • 👉 Spend some time on writing a cover letter. This is not a must (some forms don't even have an option to attach one), but in my opinion it can give your application a score or two. I usually copy-paste a few requirements from the JD and elaborate on why I could be a good asset for the company.

Let's assume the application was delivered, screened and in a week or so you received a friendly offer to make a call. Here is what you should do next.


Sergei Gannochenko

Business-oriented fullstack engineer, in ❤️ with Tech.
Golang, React, TypeScript, Docker, AWS, Jamstack.
15+ years in dev.