Graeme’s Top Tips for Interviews

We’re reaching an exciting phase at CodeClan with only one week left to go until Cohort 2 graduate. It must be a daunting time for our students so to help calm their nerves we’ve asked Graeme from Cohort 1 for his top tips on interviews and what to expect.

So Graeme, what was your motivation for coming to CodeClan?

Coming onto the course my goal was pretty simple and all encompassing, to learn everything I needed to be able to get a job in the Scottish tech industry. This doesn’t just mean that I had to learn to code, I also had to learn the soft skills necessary to find employment.

What role where you looking for?

I was pretty sure that I wanted more of a front end job to begin with, but as time rolled on I’ve adopted a more general stance as I’ve realised that I can enjoy working on various aspects of an app.

You’ve just completed your first phase of interviews. Have you got any tips for Cohort 2?

Before meeting the employer partners, I recommend taking an active approach to finding out who you are interested in – and making more of an impression on them. These events are not a time for shyness if you want to get somewhere with the time you have.

CodeClan gives you all the help you could hope for but the only person who can get you a job is you. Without being proactive you can easily find yourself being left behind, this applies to work on the course as well as the job search that ensues.

How should our students prepare for interviews?

Practice your interview technique as much as possible. CodeClan really helped me out by setting up some mock interviews but you don’t even need to interview to practice. It can help to write down your thoughts about where your strengths lie. Think about what you want from your career and why. Any good interview is a case of the employer trying to figure out if you’re a good fit for them and vice versa. You want to get across to them what kind of person you are and how you’ll fit into their team. Interviewers will be able to tell if you’ve put in the time researching the company and the job role.

What should you put on your CV?

A good CV is unbelievably important. You need to make an impression just to get a foot in the door. It should be concise, usually no more than 2 pages and you should tailor your CV to the company you’re applying to.

It’s easy to just fire out your CV to everyone and their mum but you’ll stand a much better chance of getting the role if you research the company and emphasise the skills that most appeal to them. I ended up having a CV tailored towards back end jobs and then a separate one geared towards front end roles that was a bit more creative and eye catching. Most importantly, spell check! Nothing guarantees a place in the rejection pile as quickly as spelling or grammar errors.

How did you select which companies you were interested in?

CodeClan has a great selection of companies signed up as employer partners, make sure to get in touch with all of the ones that interest you. It can be all too easy to focus on one company and think that they are the one. Sometimes this works out and everyone’s happy but more often than not you can end up empty handed and at a loss for where to go next. Give yourself plenty of options, some companies can seem ideal at a first glance and then after delving a little deeper you might realise they’re not quite your cup of tea. Inversely, a company that you were unsure of in the beginning could turn out to have just the right role for you that would offer a great way into the industry.

Are there other ways to raise your profile?

It used to be the case that if an employer had a position available they would have to advertise. Candidates had to look at what was posted and then apply for the role. These days, while that route is still prevalent, another avenue has opened up to the eager candidate. Sites like LinkedIn act as a database allowing employers to search for potential recruits. Obviously the conventional route is still more likely to net you a first job but over time opportunities can pop up out of nowhere thanks to a good profile.

We hear a lot about meet-up groups. Why are they important?

Meet-up groups can be a great way to establish a network of people that stay in your local area. You can find a meet-up for whatever your chosen tech, find like-minded people. Recently CodeClan recommended some great networking events in Scotland – it’s a good starting point!

Did you brush up on your coding skills during the interview phase?

I know there’s a lot going on and between improving your cv, going to interviews, setting up an online presence and attending meet-ups you might not feel like you have any time but you must keep coding! Try to hone your skills and build on the knowledge you’ve acquired through CodeClan but also don’t be afraid to dip your toe in some other languages and frameworks. Anything to help you sell yourself to employers and to help you hit the ground running when you do get into a job. People who are motivated to teach themselves are a very useful commodity. The cool thing about being in the tech industry is you never stop learning, there’s always something new!

Any final tips, on how our students can stay motivated?

When the classes are over and everything starts to get very real it can be intimidating. Keep your head up and keep pressing on. There’s always something to do and if you keep going eventually you will find the right job for you. Each interview is a learning process, each iteration takes your CV to a higher level and as time goes by more and more people will become aware of you through your online presence.