A couple of years ago I was asked to give a talk to programming undergraduates at Kings College, London. I wrote up the session as a blog post and added it to my personal website, where it has received
thousands one or two hits since.
Reading it back this week I was pleasantly surprised how relevant and useful it still is, and as we are currently hiring engineers at the start of their career it is worth resharing here.
Whilst I can still remember the interview for my first job, I have greater insight these days from interviewing developers, and I have personally recruited, managed and mentored a number of junior engineers at the beginning of their careers. The next sections talk about our hiring process at OpenTable and within this framework here’s how you’d get us to give you a job.
The CV is not as crucial as you might think. Get the basics right – no typos and a neat layout – but don’t cram it full of everything you’ve ever done, just enough to whet our appetite. A single page is usually best (no more than two).
The most important thing for a job as a developer is to show that you love writing code. Nothing conveys this passion better than sites/plugins/projects/online courses that you have worked on, particularly outside of your employment. Even better, provide links to repositories, websites, blogs or Q&A sites to show your work and genuine interest.
Dare I say it, but your exams results do not really matter to us. Passion, backed up with examples of work will grab our attention, with that hard-earned first or 2:1 counting only as a tie-breaker.
If we like your CV we’ll ring you for a quick chat, and then ask you to complete a test - either at our office or in your own time. The coding test will vary from role-to-role but will need skills that will be required in the job. If you can’t do the test at all then this isn’t the right role for you, but if you can do part of it then give it a go as it will give us things to talk about in the next stage of the interview.