A Tale Of Two Interviews

I had two interviews last week, in quick succession – one on Monday and one on Wednesday.

The first was at a company called Ebsta, who provide software that works with Salesforce to improve productivity.  A small company of around 20-30 employees, they were looking for a front-end developer, one that they would likely train up to work on C# and .NET after 6 or so months.  Whilst I had no particular desire to learn C# or .NET over any other particular language, in fact I have not previously considered learning them, the idea of a company willing to train and expand my skills, and therefore my value to them, appeals greatly.

The second was at a company called Schawk, a major global marketing agency (check the lizard out on their website), and for a particular team of theirs that was based in the Sky office in Isleworth.  I had to complete a coding challenge for it, which took me 6 hours and I very, very nearly gave up on it – literally I was on the last straw when I finally figured it out.

Coding challenge passed, I was granted an interview last Wednesday in the impressive, but distracting Sky office.  The interview was held in the open-plan area, lots of people walking around, giant screens with flying pikachus, a massive news banner and the Sky News studio in the background.  I didn’t exactly feel relaxed.

Prior to the interview, I had looked into the role and it seemed very much a production-line kind of job, creating one banner after another.  I wanted the job, but more because I wanted a job as opposed to that particular role.  Apparently that came across in the interview – bullshitting is not a skill of mine.

One of the interviewers was very cold and matter-of-fact.  I didn’t see us clicking.  That said, I thought I answered his aptitude questions reasonably.

But the technical questions I got stuck on.  Some I answered fine, a couple I didn’t have a clue with – never used Grunt or Gulp for example.  But I should have been able to answer questions on JavaScript anonymous functions and strict mode.  My mind went blank.  I froze whilst watching the flying pikachus.

I came away knowing I would not get offered the job.  I was disappointed in myself as I know I could have performed better in the interview.  I had prepared, but not as much as I had prepared for the previous interview two days before.

The interview on Monday was much better.  This I had prepared for – the recruiter was actually very hands-on, asking me lots of questions, getting me to think about questions to ask them, giving me as much insight as possible – even dragging me down to her office to meet me.  I spent a good 4-5 hours going over interview questions, researching the company and had some bacon to help me prepare physically.

I went there confident, had a really good interview, impressed them with my answers, impressed them with the answers to the technical test – a lot of which was impossible but it was aimed at senior developers, which I am clearly not.

I went to the pub afterwards with the team, some people actually knew what minimal techno was.  We really got on well as a group – they seemed to have a family feel which is ideal.  I really could not have done any more to make a good impression, except by perhaps drinking beer, as they were a little confused as to me drinking apple juice.

Oh and they have a table football machine.  And some of them had a penchant for disco music too.

It was perfect.  Central London, 55 minutes door to door, cool people, great job, training, etc etc.  Everything I wanted.  And I thought I was a good match too.  Oh, except the fact that it was based in the Trades Union Congress building – though that could have been fun being a Tory.

I didn’t get either role.

For the job based at Sky, the main reason was that I didn’t seem interested enough in their job.  Which is true.  Had I not fallen in love with the job at Ebsta, perhaps I would have been keener.

The job at Ebsta went to someone with more experience with me.  I gather I was considered and that I gave a good interview, and they really liked me.  But someone else simply had more experience and would be able to “hit the ground running”.

Alas.  So I’ve had four interviews now.  Two jobs that I really wanted and came close to getting.  Two that I wasn’t that bothered about.

I’m nowhere near as disappointed as last time.  I managed my expectations well.  I always knew I was the underdog.  How many interviews before I give up and get a job in MacDonald’s?  Four certainly isn’t the answer.  Ten?  Twenty?  I’ve come close twice so there is plenty of reason to believe in myself.

Money and a good suntan are probably the qualifiers, but until then I shall crack on improving my portfolio, skills and employability.

The wait for my opportunity (and a monstrous rib-eye steak) goes on.

January Is JavaScript Month

Yeah I know, it’s the 9th January already.  I’ve been busy.  First there was New Year’s Eve, then there was a hangover, it was a bad hangover, a long hangover, followed by a cold.  Excuses, excuses.

Actually I have been busy.  Most of last week was spent on telephone interviews, actual interviews, travelling (including the waste of time that my weekly job centre visit is “have you thought about doing any courses for your IT”…yeah thanks for the jobseeking advice) and the required preparation.

There might be another post assessing my interviews – there is certainly a half-decent chance that I will be offered one of the roles that I went for.  For now, I want to set out my plan for January.

I am just finishing the final PHP course that I set myself for December.  It will be finished by time I finish this post.

It really was a step forwards from the “essential” course that I did, introducing classes and Object Orientated Programming (OOP) – though I already understood the structure and idea around OOP from my JavaScript learning.

Whilst it makes sense in my head, using it will be another matter altogether, but I do have one PHP-related project that I would like to try out at some point, and one or two small ideas to use elsewhere.  Learning is one thing, and I do go through and code everything in the video, testing and debugging along the way.  But I know that I will only really start to master it once I have a project or two on the go.

I might still need some advice on how to structure my SQL tables – though I have a very good friend who is very good at PHP that is nagging me to do a PHP project so I know where to go for advice. Hopefully it has given me enough of a grounding in PHP to be able to get my payment system working for my weather forecasting page.  Another one “on the list”.

I Need A Weather Forecast

Further to that I have not been able to get SMTP mailing to work through phpmailer.  I’ve given up for now in trying to figure it out.  But I will figure it out – I always do eventually.

When it comes to PHP, I guess the next step on my learning path is to try to work out MVC architecture.

But PHP is taking a break as for the rest of January I am going to be concentrating on improving my JavaScript abilities.

The first part of my main plan is to complete the JavaScript 30 course, which is a collection of 30 tutorials to create real-world applications in JavaScript – things like making a clock, text shadow mouse move effects and a whack-a-mole game.  I am going to expand at least a couple of them – especially the whack-a-mole game for which I have quite a few ideas for.

The second main part is to continue with the Free Code Camp syllabus – I have around 20 algorithm challenges to do, such as Sum All Primes, then 4 advanced projects to do, including making my own calculator and a tic-tac-toe game (I haven’t got the foggiest how to attempt that!  15 minutes later I do have some ideas on how that might work…the AI, of course being the hardest part to tackle).

I doubt I will get all of that done.  In fact, I will not complete it all.  A vague estimate would be that would take 300 hours to do and I don’t need an algorithm to work out that I wouldn’t have enough time before the end of the month to complete this.

Of course, my time available also depends on whether I get offered a job.  I’d like to think that I will employed soon.  Although I am coping ok with the 8am starts.


To break it up I might start learning React too.  There is a course on Codecademy which looks like the perfect way to start learning it.  Knowing React is probably the one thing that would really make me stand out as a potential employee.