Preparing the scenario

Before moving to Berlin and before I started to actively look for jobs, I started running mock interviews Some interviews were for jobs in Berlin, some were across other cities in Germany. After doing several dozens of them of those, here are 9 tips for developer interviews that I can give.  

My goal was to move from Zagreb, Croatia to Berlin, Germany. Since I’ve never interviewed with German companies and only had experience interviewing with companies in Zagreb, I decided to start early with interviews to prepare myself for when the time comes to really start applying for jobs in Berlin.

This means I didn’t only accept calls from companies in Berlin but all over Germany. At this stage, I wasn’t applying anywhere, but was only accepting recruiting calls. And I decided to try to do my best as I was really ready to accept the offer and relocate the next day.

 

9 tips for developer interviews:

  1. Almost every company has switched to micro-service architecture and using Docker and K8s. Elastic stack and Terraform are present in some companies, but many are not.
  2. Understanding Jenkins and basic usage is a must, but for some companies, developers are the ones also in charge of Jenkins configuration. Id’ say around 20-30% of companies require developers to be actively engaged in the OPS part of the business.
  3. All API’s are RESTful and none of them asked about GraphQL
  4. Even if the ad says “full-stack” and you are a backend developer (like me) you have a shot. Simply do the tasks that are backend-related and ignore the frontend. Of course make sure to communicate that with the recruiters.
  5. Don’t try to be a smart-ass and do an MVC approach instead of REST simply because you don’t know any JS framework and you wanna impress them showing that you went one step further providing an actual GUI that the user can click. They’re not searching for that… they wanna see your understanding of the REST principles.
  6. Have readme-files always. Have the methods documented. If you can’t invest 10-15 minutes to make your readme file look nice then what are the chances you’re code will be nice?
  7. Unit tests are a must. This should go without saying but in today’s world, I’ve seen a lot of companies and developers not writing any tests. That’s a waste of time, resources… I could build a new feature in the meantime… you know, the classic excuses. So let me repeat myself again: TESTS ARE THE ONLY PROOF YOUR CODE WORKS. You clicking on stuff and the result turns out to be something you expected can just be a happy coincidence.
  8. Some companies favor code assignments like mini-projects while others do online tests with both theory and practical stuff. I don’t like the online tests especially when they’re “one test, fit’s all”. I had a situation where I applied for a backend Java developer and the test had 30% of questions about JavaScript. At this point, I lose respect for that company.
  9. Just because you never used all of the technologies they have written don’t be afraid. Nobody in their right mind can expect that you have a working knowledge of everything they need. You’ll learn a thing or two along the way.

KISS & Recap

 

In the end – KISS rule. Keep It Simple Stupid.
Don’t over-engineer. Don’t try to be a smart-ass. Do your interview and developer tasks professionally and in the given time frame. Don’t wind to them that you don’t have enough time. Yes, developers are in high demand, but you’re not the only one applying for this job. You need to give them a reason why they should spend tens of thousands of dollars or euros on you.
In the end, ask yourself, would I pay somebody 30, 50 or 100,000 euros if that person could do the job the same quality I do it? Just a little reality check .

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