Landing a job might be tough but the first couple weeks can be even harder. From interview tricks to best practices for new employees, three LA tech recruiters shared their thoughts with uson how to make a great first impression:
Chris Kale Senior Technical Recruiter at Scopely
What is the best first impression an interviewee can make?
“For me, it's just a general professional demeanor, and I don’t mean all buttoned up in a suit. We want people to have personality here, but there is something about a certain calmness. You know who you are, you know what you’re good at. You have a level of personality that you can make a joke where it fits to show you’re a human being."
Are there certain things people should avoid?
“Don’t get frazzled if you don’t feel like you get an answer right. A lot of times our interviewers want to see where your knowledge limit stops. They’ll ask a question, and then a follow up, and then another follow up, just to see where you stop. And sometimes I think people, when they hit a point where they don’t know how to go any further, get hard on themselves and it distracts them moving forward.
“And try not to be overly nervous. I get it, people have different dispositions, but if there is a general nervousness, it’s hard for them to focus and I’ll shake their hand and it’ll be super clammy— that’s never fun.”
Any tricks of the trade to make a lasting impression?
“I still think to this day that the ‘Thank You’ email is something that goes a long way. It's not going to guarantee someone gets a job or doesn’t get a job, but if there is some 50/50 situation between them and another candidate, something like that is a nice touch that can make a difference.”
Once the offer letter is signed, what do you look for in a fresh employee?
The people that I’ve seen succeed have two traits:
1) A strong desire to win. When you come in here you take Scopely as your company. We want people who truly believe Scopely is doing great and even if there is a misstep, we know we’ll bring it back. I’ve seen people have that who lack the some experience, but they’ll win out because of that trait.
2) Prioritization and time management to be able to block time off and say, “Look, I need two hours every day to block off the time to do this task.” In the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, they describe it as a big jar that’s filled with a bunch of pebbles, and if you try to put in big rocks while all the little stuff is in there, it’s impossible. But if you put the big rocks in first and then add in the little rocks after, it fits perfectly. Take the big tasks you need to do and block that off in your calendar and let all the little stuff fill in around the big blocks.”
Michael Bright, Senior Recruiter at Amobee
What do you look for in a conversation with an interviewee?
I look for the ability to clearly articulate their thoughts without going off on a tangent. A lot of candidates go into sales mode. They want to sell their ability and sell themselves to the company. I’m just looking for someone who can clearly define what their accomplishments were. Do they have a clearly defined career plan and are they taking the right steps to get there? It's OK if they have made a few mistakes because a lot of people do, but we don’t want people who just float through their career. Time is a perishable commodity and people that don’t plan their career, very few of them end up where they want to be.
Without selling themselves, how can someone demonstrate what their doing to improve themselves?
I want to see if they're aware of their development areas. What are you doing about it, are they taking action to help themselves grow professionally? I also want to know if they are active in their own professional community. If they are a software engineer, are they involved in local meetup groups? The best performing candidates are really passionate about what they do and don’t just go home at 6 p.m.
What do you look for in an employee’s first couple months on the job?
Number one is people who are well organized. The first 90 days of a job you’re going to be working your ass off if you’re smart. You’ll want to go home and spend extra time getting organized, doing research on the company, and understanding who our competitors are.
Number two is building relationships. We have 100 people in our Santa Monica location so I would expect that within two weeks they know half of those people on a first name basis. Within three months they should know everyone in the whole office.
Number three is understanding what the job is and being able to communicate with the hiring manager about expectations. Ask questions like, what do you want me to accomplish? How am I doing? Is there anything else I can learn? You should totally immerse yourself for the first six months but you can only sustain that level for a certain time period before you get burned out. You’ll want to dial it back down to a point where you’re still working effectively but you’re at a sustainable pace.
Kenny Choi Technical Recruiter at Avant
How does an interviewee walk the line between confidence and smugness?
“We look for someone that isn’t shy to express or showcase what they can bring to the table— it has to be a vibrant energy but at the same time not overly aggressive. We look for someone with a very friendly demeanor. We want people who will work well with a team, who you can talk to about any issues or collaborate with on new ideas.”
What traits do you search for during the interview?
“We want people who are self starters. If they’re looking at an area they aren’t an expert in, they see that more as a motivation for themselves to catch up. We’re very open to people that want to learn and people that come to Avant get direct access to the management team and a bunch of brilliant people so we want people to be open to mentorship.
What actions can new employees take in their first few weeks to stand out?
Ask a lot of questions. We want people to use the first couple weeks to understand what we’re doing as a company which means following people outside of their departments. A new career opportunity is very exciting so that should be enough motivation to work hard and really showcase what your worth and why you were hired.
Have a tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Email us via [email protected]