Lessons from Switching Jobs & Finding the Candidate-Company Fit
In almost 8 years working in the Indian IT industry, I have switched employment three times and I am often asked the reasons behind the shifts. So I decided to share a few of my key work-life observations in this blog.
Having worked in different teams and domains with different people, both locally or remotely, gave me a great deal of clarity to figure out which kind of teams keep me motivated and most productive. The teams which break the “status-quo” to build trustworthy environments and enable the members to share their opinions transparently. The sole motive of such practice is to increase the quality and value of work by encouraging “difference of opinions”, “healthy arguments” but simultaneously preserving the professional subtlety. Such teams always attempt to “shift+delete” favoritism and help the team members to grow organically.
Over the years, I set my topmost priority about where I would want to work, to this fact:
I am the right candidate for the job description for skills, mindset and work ethics but not because the company wants to reach a “1/3rd female employees” target.
Another motive many of my colleagues and friends have often pointed out had to do with pay.
I would find myself saying that though the pay is a crucial motivation, it should not be the only “go-to office” reminder. In my perspective, the considerable amount of time I spend in the office is a portion of my life and it should make me feel “it’s worth it” otherwise it’s a waste of life. If we lose money, it can be earned back but not time.“
During the pursuit of a highly compatible job, I had attended different job interviews. And in my experience, the process of the interview can provide a lot of insights about the job.
Here, I am sharing some of my takeaways:
Company A: Startup for 7+ years. Good opportunity to learn core technologies. Limited infrastructure. Limited employee benefits.
- Face to face Interview day:
- Expectation: Productive technical discussion. Faster hiring process.
- Actual: Confusion and chaos at the interview location. Lack of coordination within the recruitment panel. Apathetic responses.
- How it left me feeling: Lacked in giving importance to the value of time.
Company B: Service-based MNC. Good infrastructure. Great opportunity to work in a diversified team. Low probability of learning new skills unless there is a demand from the organization’s side.
- Face to face Interview day:
- Expectation: During the technical discussion, I will meet at least one team members and gather more information about the team’s work style
- Actual: Technical discussion with the interviewer (from another team) via their office telephone. Validation of “candidate authenticity” crossed my mind.
- How it left me feeling: Lacked in giving respect. Priority was to increase the count of employees to attach a biller id against their employee id for more revenue.
Company C: Product based MNC. Renowned. History of numerous decades in the industry. Good infrastructure. Good employee benefits. Mixed probability of challenging work for my skills.
- Interview phase:
- Expectation: Pleasant interaction. Constructive technical round to yield measurable outcomes. Feedback.
- Actual: Technical questions were tightly coupled to their line of work. My honest answers owning the fact that I did not have the working solution ready but also explaining the approach I would take for root cause analysis and problem-solving created more confusion among the interviewers to draw a conclusion. As a result, I had to redo the technical round as a coding challenge in their provided laptop in a closed book format (no syntax reference). I cleared and received a meeting invite for the HR round which never occurred. After a few iterations of rescheduling, it went to a dead end. My follow up emails went unanswered.
- How it left me feeling:
- Lack of a constructive technical interview format: In most scenarios, we try to assess a candidate based on ‘problem statements’ for which we might have struggled to find a solution. The expectation is that the candidate should already know the solution that the interviewer had applied in his/her project.
- Lack of professional courtesy
Company D: Service based MNC. Good opportunity and learning curve to strengthen skills in the field of my expertise. Average employee benefits.
- Interview Phase:
- Expectation: Constructive technical discussion to help me gauge their work style and quality.
- Actual: Arrangement of office commute was unexpected. Zero interaction with the team during the interview phase. I gotta know that their hiring filter criteria only have skills and years of experience.
- How it left me feeling:
- Arrangement of office commute for the interview was a nice gesture
- Lack of job clarity
- A flaw in the hiring criteria. Skill and years of experience may be the key but other attributes such as work ethics, team, and individual mindset are equally significant.
Company E: Crowdfunded startup within an MNC. Less than 3 years in business. Motto: Provide a bias-free hiring ecosystem.
- Interview Phase:
- Expectation: To be able to evaluate if the position is compatible with my mindset.
- Actual: Structured diversified selection of questions. 360-degree profiling of candidates. Hints of compatibility with my value system and purpose. A glimpse of the professional roadmap for the candidate who shall fill in the position.
- How it left me feeling: An open work culture, fairness, clarity of purpose
Some of the interviews I had cleared and some I didn’t. In retrospect, I found that the decisive element in acceptance/rejection from either side (interviewer or interviewee) was the impression of the interview.
Each organization has its value system and all its teams adhere to that. Similarly, each individual has a value system. The interview process gives a glimpse of that to both parties. So a certain degree of compatibility is needed to complete the hiring/getting hired process.
The key attributes I admire are clarity of purpose, open work culture, impartiality, and empathy. Steve Jobs once said that "Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people." I truly believe in that.
During the interview, I went to different company offices, interacted with various recruiters, technical experts, program managers and hiring managers. I figured that it was not only the hiring panel who was trying to profile me, but I too was unconsciously developing a gut feeling from my entire “interview” experience. The self-debate about what my future job would be vs. what I wanted it to be, I concluded that if I could discern the core values of the team and correlate, I will get satisfactory closure. The most popular alternative is to read through numerous employee feedback from glassdoor, quora, and other sources.
Feedback sharing to both parties for an interview process is unpopular and unheard of in India.
I often wondered if it would be valuable to exchange opinions. As an interviewee, it would help me to know if the impression I projected was the same I intended to and what was the degree of diversion between both perceptions. The same holds for an interviewer.
I don’t know if there are already available metrics to measure these discrepancies and if so such metrics could prove beneficial in the recruitment world.
The consequences of a mismatched job selection take a toll on a candidate’s morale, learning curve, and professional profile. From an organization’s viewpoint, it has a cascading impact on business from diminished productivity, revenue to employee liability.