Naguel

I'm Nahuel, and these are my work experiences, ideas and thoughts as a web developer working on the eCommerce industry.

A few soft skills interview questions to get to know the candidate

A few soft skills interview questions to get to know the candidate

For job interviews to fill a technical role it's obvious that the questions needs to be, well, technicals, with focus on the hard skills questions aiming to know the candidate's knowledge in a specific framework, code language, software, etcetera.

But the attitude is very very very... very much... important. I said it before:

Everybody has access to the same documentation, to the same in-house training programs, to the same software, to everybody's code, to basically the same people to ask questions and to learn from... and what's set the difference between someone progressing in his or her line of work and someone stuck is the personality each developer has.

Soft skills related questions allow you to get to know the human you are interviewing, having in mind that you'll share with that person more than some lines of code if you ended up offering the job.

It also humanise the interview. If you pay attention people are usually tense answering the technical questions but when you throw in a soft skills one candidates relax and enjoy the conversation created around that question.

Developer’s work success being too much about personality rather than hard skills
Everybody has access to the same documentation, the same in-house training programs, to everybody’s code, to the same people to ask questions and to learn from... and what’s set the difference between someone progressing in his line of work and someone stuck is the personality each developer has.

At my current job we have a few very good soft skills questions I would like to share now in case you find them useful (our interviews are for web developers so the questions, while soft skills related questions, orbit around that role).

What do you think makes a good developer?

I personally expect whatever answer that's not about code, software, or any other hard skill stuff.

People usually talks about the ability of being flexible, passionate about it, the importance on working as part of a team, etcetera. Still some candidates mention hard skill stuff not covered before in the interview such as testing, and that's fine.

What do you think makes a good manager?

I like this one because it's a chance for the candidate to talk about others, and it's expected that they think of their current boss (obviously).

The answer will give you an idea of how the candidate works on a team structure where somebody is on a position above them. And at the same time it will hint you if the candidate will do well with the current managers at your company.

I like the answers about leadership and motivation.

What do you think you would add to the team if you were to get the job?

This is the polite version of "Why do you want this job besides money?".

I like this one because it forces the candidate to summarise what's their contribution to the team. And it's important to emphasise the team in the question, like you are not just adding something to the company but adding something to a team made of real humans.

What would you expect from the team if you were to get the job?

In opposition to the previous one, this is the time for the candidate to tell us how they see themselves after any period of time as part of a new team.

Again, we are asking about the team, not the company, so we try to keep it human while guiding the candidate into giving us something not technical.

If you were to organise a work social night out, what would you plan?

This always takes the candidates by surprise. They are thinking about PHP, VueJS, code reviews, pull requests and out the sudden they need to think about beers (because beers is the right answer to a social night out plan).

What do you like to do when you aren't coding?

There's no better question than this one to force the candidate to stop talking about hard skills and say something about their personal life (as much as they want, don't force people into talking about their personal life on a job interview).

It is also fun to learn about others people hobbies.

How to write a resume

How to write a resume

I know this one probably isn't the first article you ended up reading about how to write a resume. I understand, you are looking for a job change or your first opportunity and this matters so much that you are looking for many suggestions.

I happen to be on the other side of the table as I screen candidates based on their resumes and I get to conduct interviews. Those interviews, by the way, happens only if the resume appeals me, and that's why it matters: a resume can give you your first shot at a job position or totally kill your opportunity.

Since I get to see some resumes every now and then, I'm already expecting something from them when I grab one, and I'll try to tell you what's that so you can write a good one.

Look, I know this is a long article, but it's your resume we are talking about.

It is worth the time.

Anatomy of a resume

Introduction

Say something before diving into the hard data of your work experience and studies. That's how you prove to be human.

This is not exactly a cover letter but something shorter and more general (not aiming directly at the company you are applying to). Imagine only having 20 seconds to introduce yourself at a date and that's about it.

Paint an overall picture of who you are, what are you looking at and what are you capable of.

For example, I'm a developer and this is my introduction:

Hi there, I'm a Full Stack Developer, more inclined to the Front End part of it, who has been working with eCommerce platforms like Magento since 2013.

I usually work with xHTML, CSS, SASS, Compass, LESS, JavaScript, VUE, jQuery, a little bit of Grunt, PHP, Laravel, another little bit of MySQL, Git as a revision control system, Agile methodology with Scrum as an agile development method, and of course Magento.

I really like English, which is my secondary language, that's why I'm very happy with my IELTS Life Skills B1 (IELTS UKVI) certification.

A good introduction will give the company you are applying to an idea of where you might fit.

Experience

This is the most important bit, where job hunters focus when reading a resume, and it's surprising how many people got it wrong.

Experience is about listing your entire career in a way that becomes easy to read and to understand, so it needs to be perfect.

There are two ways I would recommend this to be done: one is by listing roles and the company where that role happened (that's the classic approach), and another way is to list companies and roles performed while working for each company (which is the recommended option if you had multiple roles in the same place, or to show career progress inside the company).

LinkedIn uses these two approaches combined depending on how many roles you add to the same company.

The main issue I always encounter within this section is that people usually list the title of the role, the company, the dates when that happened, and nothing more, but that's not even close to be enough.

List the actual tasks you take care of while performing on a specific position. When people read your resume they need to know what you have actually done, the real stuff you have actually done.

For example, a common job title is the "Technical Leader" for a web development agency. What that means to you?, because certainly it doesn't mean the same on every company. Did you code review stuff or that wasn't your job? Did you manage deployments or that didn't fall into your job description? Did you coach people? What else?

I'm a Full Stack Developer at my company... and I do code reviews, deployments, I interview people, take care of the onboarding of new employees, etcetera. The tasks I perform are not usually associated with the title of the role I have so that's why it's also important to be specific.

Depending on the job and/or role it might be worthy to also specify the projects you worked on, which could be a good idea if you operated as a freelance for some period of time.

Certifications

This is how you validate your previous listed experience.

Everybody know that a certification on its own is no evidence at all that you dominate the platform/software/field that certification is about, but they are used as a filter during the screening of several resumes.

So, if you have them, add them. It's more for like "Oh, look, she has this certification, so she dedicated personal time to get it, that tells something of her".

If you happen to have a certification on a different language, besides any study that proves you speak it, this is the place to add them.

Language certifications are pretty important, specially if you are looking for a job in a foreign company.

Additional projects

A lot of people do freelance stuff at the same time that works at a company as a full-time employee, collaborates on an Open Source project, or maintains a personal one.

Whatever is your case, or if you have something similar, you should list that too as it's part of your experience. And, the fact that you did that in parallel of having your regular job it's a plus the interviewer will consider.

For technical positions such as web developers this is also the moment when you introduce your personal repositories (such as GitHub), or any other social network account with focus on showing your work as a portfolio (for example, Behance).

As an interviewer, and as a resume screener (assuming that's a thing), I'm mainly focus on the technical aspects of the candidate, so a GitHub account (or similar) is for me a glimpse of the actual coding skills of the person applying for the job.

Education

Your experience (and the additional stuff you did), on top of your certifications, leaves your common education on a secondary position.

What you have done during your career, your career itself, it's your education, so at one point your attendance to college or Uni doesn't really matter. But, that's only true if you actually have a career to show.

There's still something worth highlighting here which are courses taken that are related to your professional career, either directly or complementing it.

Bonus track

Social networks?

Only if they add something to your professional profile, otherwise I wouldn't bother mentioning them.

A good examples of social networks worth mention are Twitter (if your use it professionally), GitHub (or similar version control system), and of course LinkedIn.

If you have a personal site, such as a blog, and specially if it's related to what you do professionally, mention it as well.

Hobbies?

Yes, of course. There are humans reading resumes made by other humans, so prove to be one.

A list of hobbies gives people a glimpse of your personality, and it's always good to know what you appreciate in life besides working.

Of course, this is pretty much optional, and you should share this personal side of you at the capacity you are comfortable at.

Additional personal data?

We are talking contact information here, which is important because, well, you want to be contacted back.

But also your country of residence, which is pretty much key information for time zone reasons, specially if you are applying at a foreign company.

Designs matters?

Depends on what you do for a living. If you work on something related to design, then yes, it does, and pretty much.

But, for example, if you are a developer, I personally don't care much about design and my main focus is on the content of the resume rather than how pretty that is.

Having LinkedIn

This is a double-edged sword.

LinkedIn is great, it's the perfect way to show your entire professional career. It gives you the ability to add everything we just discussed before and more.

From my personal point of view, I think having LinkedIn is enough, and that it could be your final resume. You don't need anything else.

For example, I don't have another resume but my LinkedIn profile, and when I applied to the current job I have I remember saying...

You can check my experience in my LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nahuelsanchez, let me know if you want a PDF version of my CV or something else.

...but that PDF version wasn't necessary because my LinkedIn profile had everything, it's complete.

And that's my point. If you are going to have a LinkedIn profile, have it up to date, have everything there. Make it your final and only one resume that's always available for whoever wants to read it.

Otherwise, what happens if I see a profile with content midway is that I assume that's all of your career. I can't tell if you were lazy and didn't update what I consider to be your resume.


If you are a web developer you can find me on LinkedIn and check my profile which I consider to be a good example to follow (not a perfect one, I said "good").

Also, again, if you are a web developer (which is my "area of expertise"), find me again on LinkedIn and tell me if you would like me to review your profile (after you applied to it everything that was presented here, of course).

Prepare for a job interview

Prepare for a job interview

If you are my boss and you are reading this... no, I'm not looking for another job!

About two years ago I decided to quit the job I had back then after around 6 years on the same company, and I had to prepare for the incoming interviews I was planning to have (fun fact, I only had one) because for that period of time I had none (yep, I'm that loyal) so I considered myself a little bit rusty on that area.

Looking for a new job is a job itself. It's not just about scheduling interviews and going to them, you need to prepare, otherwise your chances are pretty low (trust me, I conduct interviews, so I'm on the other side of the table).

No politician in America will tell you this, but every boss will: You can’t just show up. You need a plan to succeed.

"Thank You for Being Late" by Thomas L. Friedman

Once I wrote a post about how being average at work is over and how it won't take you anywhere, and that concept applies now again for your job hunting.

Average is officially over, so don’t be that at work
Average is officially over because it won’t take you, your company, your team, anywhere. There was a time when you would learn a skill and that would be enough to succeed at work, but nowadays what you learn has an expire date as much as the milk in your refrigerator.

Update your resume and experience information

Sounds basic but you will be surprised if I tell you how many candidates don't do it and how they end up saying things such as "Oh, no, after that job I have another position for a few years but I sent you the outdated resume".

The resume is your opening, it speaks for you before you even utter a word, and it's what gives you your interview (or the reason why you don't get one).

It doesn't need to be long, nor fancy. It just needs to be up to date, including your current and past experiences (all of them relevant to the job you are looking for, at least), with not only the job titles and dates, but with a short list of the actual tasks you performed.

Don't tell me you were a "Front end developer", but tell me what you actually did on that role, with what technologies did you work, of what other "soft" tasks you were part of (did you interview people? did you conduct workshops?).

Say "Hi" with a cover letter

You can't just attach a PDF of your resume and send it to a thousand emails... well, yes, you can, won't be ideal... or do it, that's fine, but include a cover letter.

The cover letter is how you say "Hi". In the real world you don't walk into a company's office and throw a printed resume at the HR employee working at that moment: you say "Hi" before.

In a few lines, in a short text, you can introduce yourself by telling a little bit about who you are, what's your current situation and what are you looking for.

You can have a template, but I would suggest you to personalize it for each application. Remember to talk like an human.

Take a look at what I sent when applying for my current job, in 2018:

Hello,

I’m a front end developer focused on eCommerce, specifically in Magento and VTEX, and I have been working with these two platforms since 2013 starting with Magento 1 even before the RWD theme and now dealing with Magento 2 while getting to know what’s coming in PWA related to this platform.

Right now I work at Current Company (https://www.linkedin.com/company/current-company) but I’m looking for a change. I guess by the “Career openings” section in your website that you probably aren’t looking to fill any position with a person working remote, but a friend that went through your recruiting process told me about you and I thought it wouldn't be much of an inconvenience to apply.

If by any chance you’re looking for a remote developer I also completed the developer test available at GitHub, and here’s the link with the requested functionalities: https://github.com/link-to-tes

You can check my experience in my LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nahuelsanchez, let me know if you want a PDF version of my CV or something else.

Thank you very much.

Nahuel

The subject of that email was "I'm a Magento front-end developer".

Prepare to be Googled

The very least thing that will happen on the process of reviewing your application is that your LinkedIn profile will be checked, your GitHub account will be tracked down... you will be searched on Google.

If you are going to have a LinkedIn profile, then have it up to date, otherwise is counterproductive. If you have this polished then you will be already covering the previous section about having a good resume (check mine).

Something really good to have in order to highlight yourself among other candidates is to own a blog, related, even if vaguely, to the job you are looking for.

Clearly, owning a blog is not easy at all as it requires time to build an archive of data worth showing, but it is also a good example of how looking for a new job is not something that should (must? will?) happen quickly.

You need to build an online presence, specially on the IT sector: participate in forums, Twitter, engage in LinkedIn conversations, attend conferences, be a "member of the community" at some capacity.

Have a reason for changing jobs

Money is a reason, and it's a valid one, just have that clear before the interview and be able to explain it.

When I changed jobs years ago I remember the reason was that I was feeling always on a run on my previous position, not enjoying it, and I mainly though that the way we were doing things could be different.

I didn't know exactly how different, but I knew the processes could be better in a way, and me looking for a job change was mostly focused on looking for a different way to work on web development related projects.

Whatever is driving you into looking for a new job is personal, and only you know it.

My two cents here is that don't let any anger to your current job or current company be the main reason why you are thinking of quitting and moving on.

Decide how much money you are after

Be serious. We all want a million dollars, and maybe you think you are worth that much, that's fine, just as long as you are being realistic.

Deciding how much money we would like to be pay on our next job starts with knowing how much we are doing right now in our current position, and how that is translated into the different payment forms existing out there.

For example, maybe you are getting a monthly salary right now, but that's not exactly how all companies pay its employees. Some pays every 15 days, some talks salary while expressing it on a year-time period, a lot of companies on the IT sector have a price per hour scheme, and not all companies use the same currency.

Take your current salary on its current form, and understand how to express it in all its variations, so you know how much you are currently worth when asked.

Having this all clear makes it easy to not only decide how much to ask for then, but it will come at handy when reviewing a counter proposal or comparing different offers in case you are lucky enough to find yourself on that position.

Know the company you are applying at

I can understand that you will be applying for multiple positions at the same time looking to win one, but that's no excuse to come unprepared for those interview opportunities you nailed.

Between the moment the interview is scheduled and when it actually happens there's plenty of time to investigate the company that is giving you a shot.

Looking at the company's website is the very least you must do, but there's clearly more. For example, since I applied to an eCommerce agency, I reviewed the sites they have launched to check the designs they were doing and how their code looked like.

If you have ever been on a first date with somebody you didn't really know much, you might as well have stalked him/her on plenty of social media sites... well, this is kind of the same situation.

It is possible that you will be asked, by the company itself, why you have chosen them, and even if you are not you still need to know the company you are applying at to actually discover if you think you'll fit or not.

Have a script at hand

Everything you had prepared before, and more, needs to be with you during the interview, which is extremely easy if the interview happens online.

  • Have in detail what a normal work day looks like for you.
  • Have your experienced detailed, with the actual tasks you performed, in case you need to go deep into them while talking.
  • Have a list of projects you worked on, with a short explanation for them and the technologies you used.
  • Have the reasons you are having that interview in writing, in case you were asked for.
  • Have your current salary, and what you will be requesting now, at hand in case the discussion reaches that point.

The interview itself should be human friendly, and it's a bidirectional conversation, which means that you can (and certainly must) ask questions too, specifically focused in knowing the company beyond what you discovered while stalking it.

Be prepare to share something personal too, as again this is a conversation between humans. Do you have any hobby you would like to share? Any activities besides working that will be worth mention? Something about your family?

Finally, learn from past interviews. If you don't land the first one, try to understand what could you have done different, what you missed, and be even more prepare in the next one.

Good luck!