Wanted: A Few Good Nerds
It’s the most common question I get and I love it when applicants ask me this. It shows me they are confident. It shows me they’re open to listening and genuinely interested in a role. Questions that pique curiosity hint of something we value highly at Codazen: a passion for learning and self-development.
Codazen has a strong culture of learning. We say we cultivate humble experts because in this business, technology changes rapidly and we must keep up with the changes. Because there’s always room to learn more, there isn’t a coding language Codazen’s nerds* don’t speak. We’re constantly studying, developing, pivoting to keep up with the changes.
Everyone who works here comes with the desire to become better at their craft. Coders, engineers, analysts, strategists, designers—pick any role and someone is adding a certificate course, reading an industry journal or sharing a blog about the latest CSS discovery.
We hire people who genuinely share an inherent belief that there’s always room for improvement. Even if you’ve been doing the job for 10 years, there’s something new, up-and-coming and shinier on the horizon. You have to have that drive to push past your perceived limitations.
I love to hear questions from candidates who want professional development. It shows they have interest in growing. People who tell me what their goals are upfront are strong contenders. It could be someone looking for management and leadership growth because someone who starts as an associate could develop into a manager.
Codazen offers continuing education. Some candidates get excited about it, and it shows me that’s important to them. For example, one of the things we have are Lunch and Learn workshops. We not only teach about technology, we also present life skills, like meditation.
*Yes, we fly our Nerd flag proudly.
Keep in mind: by the time I call you, I’ve already read your resume. (That’s why I’m calling you!)
By now I don’t need to hear your resume verbatim. I’m looking for what more you can tell me about your experiences.
As for the resume.... limit it to no more than two pages (three pages if you have more than 5-7 years experience). Make it a format where all your skills are highlighted in a small box, rather than bullet points. Make sure the important skills stand out. When hiring engineers, I work closely with Ruen Dineros, one of our engineering managers. He advises that a format supporting brevity and grouping skillsets in resumes is key to getting it noticed.
Besides telling us what you did or what your duties are, tell us how you improved on something. What did you do to make your last company and position better? Did you increase team productivity by 30%? Tell us how you helped create more revenue or helped complete a big project.
Your resume is a good place to honestly showcase these accomplishments.
Interns & Recent Grads
Many recent grads message me on LinkedIn. However, I get hundreds of weekly messages so I may not get to your message immediately. Be patient. I answer questions as they come. But, please note that Codazen doesn’t hire new grads.
We hire people with on-the-job and worldly experience. That said, we have a robust internship program and if you’re still in school or a recent grad, I encourage you to apply.
Our intern programs are paid and offer ample opportunities for personal growth, building skills and portfolios. We do hire from within our intern cohort. We have summer and winter internships and the interview process is the same as full-time positions.
The Phone Interview: First Round
Yes, we want personal drive and a thirst for growth but we’re not a rigid bunch. The interview is about getting to know your personality, seeing if you’re a cultural fit and hearing about your journey.
Our culture of fun is as important as having a passion for technology. We have Nerf guns all over the office. When we’re not working from home, we have cross-functional teams who battle it out in epic shootouts. Since work form home began, we’ve found other ways to have fun and stay connected on our internal social media.
You don’t have to be a comedian but knowing the balance of when to take work seriously and when not to take yourself too seriously is as important. During the first phase of interviews with talent, I gauge their sense of humor. I will purposely say something that 9 times out of 10, I get a chuckle. Even when candidates are introverted, shy and quiet, I’m looking for a response to humor.
There are times the candidate is completely irresponsive. Giving me one syllable answers doesn’t help me get to know you. If it’s like pulling teeth, I immediately know they’re not a right cultural fit. We attract talented, fun people with different personalities. But they are confident being themselves and engaging with others.
We have a diverse company with people from all corners of the globe. What we’re looking for is whether the person’s values match ours of learning, fun, collegiality and humbleness. The very first phone interview is the most important in the process. So, be professional, mindful and show the best aspects of yourself.
But there are some things I keep coming across that will sully your chances of advancing at Codazen (and possibly at other places too).
Are you an active listener? This is a learned skill that works face-to-face but can also be applied on audio-only conversations. When people don’t let me get a word in edgewise, I know they’re not listeners. It happens: I ask one question and a candidate is off to the races, talking at a mile-a-minute, for half an hour.
Please note that I will not ask you a question that requires answers of more than two minutes. Yes, you’re nervous, but we’re looking for candidates who can exercise self-control and show maturity with listening. If you tend to turn into a chatter box with nerves it’s good to run through mock interviews as part of your preparation.
I’ve had candidates talk endlessly about how great they are, what they’ve done—which is good but not good when you’re monopolizing the conversation. Pause for a minute and realize that you are not being grilled. I want you to feel comfortable and not intimidated. It’s not who I am. I’m hosting a space where we can connect in a natural and comfortable setting.
Do not talk about your current or former employer, coworkers, bosses in a way that bemoans them. Save the badmouthing for happy hour or therapy. When I’m getting to know your potential, your opinion of them is irrelevant. Focus on your role, your achievements, your goals.
If a bad experience is part of your personal journey, use your emotional intelligence and maturity to express yourself. Were you overworked at your last place? Say you’re looking for work-life balance. Was a previous boss a micromanager? Say you thrive when you’re trusted to work independently. Are you bored with your job? Say you’re looking for a position where you can grow.
You get the point.
Lastly, and I can’t believe I have to say this but—please don’t cuss. It’s off-putting. Show respect for yourself and your interviewer.
I hope you have a better idea of what to expect when you’re expecting a first-round job interview. As we continue the process, you may go through an online technical assessment and interview, as well as an interview with a manager. Above all, be yourself. If you’re a good fit for us, it will work out. If not, you’ll find your niche.
Now that you’re better prepared, apply here. I look forward to hearing from you.