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Every year I dust off my resume and apply for a couple of jobs that look interesting.
Do I do that because conventional wisdom in the tech industry says that if you don't change jobs every 1-2 years, you lose money or is it because I am not happy at my current job? Sometimes that has been true, but most of the time, I have interviewed with other companies regardless.
You might be wondering - Why do I put myself through the ordeal that is an interview?
It all started when I was asked to interview other candidates for our recruiting pipeline. Not having interviewed anyone before, I decided the easiest way to formulate my interviewing style and get some questions to ask other people is to go on interviews myself and ask what other interviewers asked me.
But, there were additional benefits that I didn't foresee, and that's why I continue doing it to this day.
Tweak my interviewing style
I have already mentioned this, but it helps me formulate and tweak my interviewing style.
Am I fairly compensated?
By comparing the offers, I get, and what other companies are willing to offer, I can get a good sense of whether my current company is paying me fairly.
Practice makes Perfect
Since I am happy in my current job, all interviews are low stakes. I can experiment with different styles and see what resonates. When I eventually need a new job, I will be better at interviewing. After all, practice makes perfect.
Talk about what you love
An added advantage of low stake interviews is that the interviews become fun. I get to have a conversation with other people interested in similar stuff as I am and actually talk about the things I love doing.
Find the gaps
It gives me a good indication of the gaps in my skill set. Most of the concepts remain the same across interviews. I can just read up on what I didn't know and be better prepared the next time. As an aside, this also gives me a good idea of what tech stack to experiment with for my side(toy) projects.
Not only is a job offer a confidence booster, but it is proof that I am not trapped in my job. I am staying because I want to, not because I have to.
After some of the interviews, even though I have rejected the offer, I am still in touch with the interviewers. I think it will be helpful if I ever need to find a new job.
Sometimes I have received that killer offer that I just haven't been able to turn down. You don't believe me. I have some examples below.
I get insider info on how the company works, what they do well, what they don't.
Is it a good fit or a mismatch
For some of the companies, I realized that they would never be a good fit for the way I like to work, and if I ever need to look for a job, I shouldn't waste my time applying to them. Nothing wrong with the companies themselves but the difference in styles would have made me very unhappy. Some examples below
Life was good but I got to move to a new country
I had no plans to move. I was being paid above the market rate and enjoying my work. I was in a city where all my school and university friends had ended up. I was upskilling like crazy. I applied to international companies to get some fodder for when I had to take interviews. One of them resulted in an offer with a visa sponsorship and a healthy relocation package, and I found myself in New Zealand.
Living the dream
I had just received a couple of awards and enjoyed my work with a potentially high paying career in front of me. I interviewed with a game development company just for the fun of it. Even though I had to take a significant pay cut, I moved to the games industry and lived the dream.
Autonomy and a Healthy Culture
I enjoyed the work and learning a lot of new things, but I was falling behind the market rate on the salary scale. I still had a couple of months before I would have started looking in earnest. Again, got a call from a recruiter for a startup. Met the people and had some excellent conversations. I didn't have to negotiate to get what I knew I could command in the market for my skill. I got a lot of autonomy and put into practice my passion for building a healthy culture and a really jelled team.
An offer that I just could not refuse
I was burnt out and decided to take a break from development and help a friend with his business. A recruiter called me for an interview which I went to just because it was a paid trip to a city where many of my friends lived. I had no intention of taking the job because the opportunity did not excite me at all.
I am glad I went. Not only was the work very interesting, but they made me an offer that I just could not refuse. This was one of the best companies I worked for. I learnt a lot. This was also where I realized what having a good manager can do to your productivity and growth.
Mismatch in Style
- Everything went well, but then they low balled me on the offer.
- Ghosted me for a month or so before getting back to me and asking me to come for another interview without giving any reason for the silence.
- Wouldn't agree to start the process till I give them my current salary.
- Wouldn't agree to have a chat before asking me to spend some time on a coding test
- One-way video interview as part of the process - Need I say more?
- Shared music on the floor the whole day.
- A few because the tech stack or the product or the team didn't interest me enough.
- A coding test in which I had to keep a granular track of the hours spent.
- A mandate for Mob programming / Pair Programming as the only way to work.
- A bunch of recruiters disappeared after the initial call. They all went on my blocklist.
If I had spoken to any of them when I was desperate for a job, I would have probably taken the offer and been extremely unhappy. Interviewing when there was no need helped me avoid that fate. It also narrows down the companies I can focus on if I ever have to look.
Am I wasting other peoples time when I have no plans to quit?
I don't think so. I always tell them that I’m happy at my current company. If they still want to continue with the process, they know that they will need to offer something exceptional for me to consider making a move. Even though so far, everyone has continued with the interview process, they can always stop.