I’ve spent the past 4 months of my life with a single focus: Getting a Remote Job. This was a process that led me into a journey of self-discovery, learning and personal growth. Here are some of the lessons I learned from Remote Work Job Interviews around the World.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just spend 4 months throwing resumes out there and hoping for the best. That wouldn’t have been enough. These were three of the most hard-working months of my entire life: I’m talking 16 hour days of work and study.
And while I know that it may sound excessive for some people, to me it only made sense. I knew I wanted to change Jobs, and I knew I wasn’t about to settle down for more of the same. I didn’t want another 9 to 5, different office, similar commute.
No, my friends. To me, getting a remote job meant obtaining freedom. Freedom to be wherever I wanted to be, and to visit my friends and family more often.
But, as some of you may already know, remote work isn’t an easy perk to come by. And it’s not that hard to understand why: you’re competing against the whole world for a job like this. This also meant that remote work job interviews were going to be a little more competitive than usual.
So I had to make my mind, was I willing to fight for the kind of life I wanted? And not only was the answer yes, but by now I can also say: It worked.
But this process didn’t come without it’s fair share of challenges. It wasn’t easy. And yet I would be lying if I were to say I didn’t learn anything from it.
I gained more than just the job I wanted from this experience – I gained valuable lessons that will forever change the way I see life. And these are the ones I want to talk about today.
1.- The World is a bigger place than you think.
Believe it or not, there was a time when I used to think of myself as The Best Programmer in The World. And, being completely honest, I doubt I’m the only one who has ever felt that way.
The experience of believing yourself to be incredibly talented at something, even a prodigy, is probably one that we can all relate to. Whether it’s because of video games, or music, or sports; there’s always this one thing that, we believe, we could challenge the world at; if we just wanted to.
And sometimes that passion drives us to actually test our skills at that level.
This section probably started a little cocky, but my experiences trying myself at the world level were anything but. I actually found myself to be quite average, even bad, at this thing that I enjoy so much.
Finding out that other people are better at the things you love can be devastating. It’s an experience that really opens your eyes, and shows you just how big the world really is.
But, while it can certainly be shocking, being humbled in this way is also an opportunity for growth. Unlike the last time I found out I was outclassed, this time I didn’t feel despair: I was happy.
Because, knowing that there are other coders stronger than you, is not a bad thing. It just means that you, too, can get a lot stronger if you just try hard enough.
2.- Have the courage to say “I don’t know”.
I know this sounds incredibly counterintuitive, how could answering an interview question with “I don’t know” be a good thing? And let me tell you, for the longest amount of time, I didn’t get it either.
It all comes from the nature of entering a new position. To put it in the simplest of terms:
You’re never going to know everything about your new job.
There’s probably a beautiful open world of fantasy and magic where the above doesn’t hold true; but I’ve never been to it. Here, in reality, we’ve simply been around long enough that no one knows everything about anything.
And that’s not a bad thing. There’s simply too much stuff out there to be known.
So, considering that reality: is it really unreasonable to assume you won’t know the answer to at least one question in a whole 60-minute interview? Of course it isn’t. And nobody actually expects you to know them all.
The business knows you’re going to need training at first. So they want to know if you’ll be easy to train. And admitting you don’t know something is the first step to becoming a good student.
But, please, don’t just say you don’t know the answer. Ask about it, show your curiosity and your willingness to learn. Turn this little lack of knowledge into a good point about your character.
And, if you want bonus points, try learning a little about the topic you fumbled on. And when you see your interviewer again, be sure to mention what you learned. It’ll really put a smile on their face.
3.- They call them basics for a reason.
This one may sound a little obvious, but the basics are called that way for a reason: Because they serve as the foundation for your entire career.
And they’re still, oftentimes, the parts that most people tend to take for granted.
During my experiences, I seldom ran into a company that’d make a big deal out of not knowing the newest flavor of code out there. More common was the company that geared their interview process towards really testing your fundamentals.
I’ve made it most of the way without gearing this talk directly to my coding audience but, my friends, this one is for you:
- Learn SOLID principles, your code will be better for it. Even better if you can explain them in as few words as possible.
- Learn your Design Patterns, and how they’re applied.
- Know about programming paradigms – at least Object Oriented and Functional Programming – And be able to explain them.
- Study performance, be able to talk about your code in Big O Notation.
- Know the fundamentals of your programming languages. I can teach you the framework at work, but you have to know the basics.
Different roles and languages will have a different set of expectations from this point forward, which goes a little outside the scope of this article.
Author’s Note: I performed all my interviews as a Front End Developer and gathered quite a few resources in that regard. Here’s a few of them, in no particular order:
- The Front End Developer Quiz, by David Shariff.
- Front End Developer Questions.
- Interview Questions for Front End Developers (Warning: Plenty o’ Content.)
- What to Really learn as a Developer in 2017.
- And last (but not least), 10 things I wish someone had told me when I first began programming.
I got a little too enthusiastic about this topic, it seems, and ended up writing WAY too much stuff for a single post. And, while I would love to share everything right now, I believe it best if to divide the content into more digestible chunks; instead of one big wall of text.
So, join me next week to talk about the remaining 3 lessons I got from remote work job interviews around the world. Things you can expect: Learning from failure, choosing wisely and being yourself.