First Technical Interview Experience and Questions About Tech Staffing Companies

Hello Everyone,

I just started delving into the job application process recently. I’m self taught through FCC (completed the first 3 certificates and then spent a few months building my own projects, learning terminal, npm, git/Github, and other various features I wanted to implement into to my projects, etc. )

Any responses I’ve received from companies I applied to said they were looking for someone with more experience, which is expected as I am changing careers and am looking for my first job in the industry. I’ve noticed lots of job postings for entry level/junior positions that are staffing companies that connect you with an employer… and some which offer an accelerated training program in other languages like Java, .net, etc and then they place you in a job under a contract.

I’m interested to know if anyone has any positive or negative experience with this type of first job. It doesn’t sound very appealing to me but I also want some sort of experience and on-the-job mentorship so figured I’d apply and see what it was about.

I just had my first technical interview with one of these companies via Skype and it was very unprofessional… the interviewer was not visible in the video chat, only his profile picture, and he did not seem to be listening to me when I was talking or trying to engage with him. He asked me to write a function to check for a prime number and as I started to talk through my process he seemed to disappear and I literally was like "Hello? Hello? for almost a minute and then he returned and said the interview was over.

I’m not upset about it, it was just kind of dumb and I obviously don’t expect other interviews to be like that, but I figured I would share my experience and see if anyone had any feedback on this topic. Thanks for listening to my rant!

Right. Obviously you don’t have work experience doing this, but you can build a strong portfolio. If you only have the first 3 certs that’s going to be tough. I think you at least want to get the API and back end stuff - that will allow you to build more interesting apps.

[accelerated training program … then they place you in a job under a contract] doesn’t sound very appealing to me but I also want some sort of experience and on-the-job mentorship so figured I’d apply and see what it was about.

Hey, a job is a job. It is very hard to get a first job. The second job is much easier, but the first one - do what you have to do. I would research the companies on places like glassdoor.

the interviewer was not visible in the video chat, only his profile picture

Yeah, I’ve had that happen. I think that’s most of the time. What I hate is when they make up some BS excuse, “Oh, sorry, the camera on my laptop just stopped working…”

he did not seem to be listening to me when I was talking or trying to engage with him

Yeah, I’ve had that happen a few times. They’re probably bored. It doesn’t mean that you have none of their attention, just not all of it. It’s probably one of the reasons why he didn’t want to turn his camera on.

and then he returned and said the interview was over.

Who knows, maybe he didn’t like what he saw. He may have been listening and watching passively. Or maybe he wasn’t. Who knows.

Yeah, it’s a very frustrating process. You will get turned down over and over. It will be gut wrenching. You just gotta keep at it. Keep applying, keep learning, keep building things, keep reevaluating things like your resume, portfolio, linkedin, etc.

At the risk of some more shameless self-promotion, I once wrote up a doc with my thoughts on getting that first job.

Good luck and don’t give up.

I had a zoom interview earlier this year. There were two people on the remote side, both had their video on, but one of them played with his phone the whole time and didn’t say a word or even look at me. I think I would have preferred if he just had his video off. Now I’m not interviewing for entry level positions, this was a very decent paying position and I’m bringing over 25 years of experience. You’d think they would take these things seriously but not at this company I guess. Pretty damn rude to have someone sit in on the interview and play with their phone the entire time. Just goes to show that this type of thing happens all the time so don’t take it too personally.

Yeah, some people are just really bad at giving and interview. Some of them just don’t want to be there and don’t take it seriously.

Haha, interesting! In my previous career (real estate, property management, hospitality) making a positive, personable first impression was always so crucial on both ends of an interview and just in general with everyone you dealt with professionally. So this definitely threw me off, but I guess that’s just part of learning a new industry and something I’ll be prepared for next time. Thanks for the feedback!

Right, but those are professions populated by “people persons”. Tech is dominated by nerds and “brogrammers”. These are not people that stereotypically have great people skills. There is a disproportion of people that are socially inept. (And I’m sure my wife will tell you that that describes me as well.) And a lot of programmers have the attitude of “all I want to do is code” and hate any part of the job that isn’t that. Some of them may even resent it. And there are some that have great people skills and love those kinds of tasks. It takes all types, but in tech you get too much of the socially inept crowd.

You can learn a lot from TV shows and movies. Have you seen The IT Crowd, Office Space, or Silicon Valley? Not far behind would be things like The Office (both versions). I think those can give some insight.

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