I've been with Red Shark for a little over 3 years now. And in my time, I've seen a few developers come and go. I haven't been involved in the hiring process on all of them, but I've at the very least been included in the conversation surrounding them. And for every good candidate we've seen, there's been a handful of bad ones. So in this blog, I'm gonna tell you the dos and don'ts of applying for your first developer job, and how to not bomb the interview.
I know this goes without saying, but you would be surprised how many times this gets overlooked. Also, I'm gonna brag on myself just a little bit in this department. When I had my interview at RSD, I brought my personal laptop to show my work. It wasn't hosted on a live server, but it was on my local LAMP server. Also, my laptop was running Linux, so I could demonstrate that I knew at least some basics about server-side work. The night before, I also built a simple but working CRUD (create, read, update, delete) application to show that I knew how to interact with databases without wanting to crawl under the desk. I hadn't (really) worked in the Web Development market yet, and Greenville isn't exactly overflowing with developer jobs, so I knew I needed to do whatever I could to make myself stand out.
This should be the most obvious of all, but again, you'd be surprised. Don't lie in an interview. If you haven't worked with a certain technology in over a year, don't rate yourself a 9 out of 10. If your experience with WordPress is using a Wix-clone site builder, don't call yourself a WordPress developer. And for the love of all things holy: If you have limited experience with a framework, just say so. Don't give some vague answer like "enough to be dangerous." And if you do get the job, don't try and re-invent the wheel on your first day. Learn the company's way of doing things. Then once you've earned your stripes, your team/boss will be much more interested to hear your ideas on how to improve the workflow.
Okay, I'm gonna go back to my interview here for a minute, but no bragging this time. Being a Web Developer was my goal, but I wasn't going to lie to reach it. In the first half of my interview, I felt pretty good. PHP, MySQL, HTML, CSS, JS, all of these I was comfortable with, and said so. I answered specific questions and provided details with said answers. But then, the second half came. Was I familiar with cPanel? I mean, I used it once. A year ago. Couldn't remember a damn thing. What about WHM? I was thinking "Man, I can't even spell that." There were several of these, but two examples is enough. The uniting factor in all of these "no" questions I was asked surprised me. The developer who sat in my interview just said, "Oh, no problem. We can teach you that."
While all three of these are pretty much on the same level, I'd say that this one stands out just a little bit more. If you want to be a developer because Google says the pay is good, then you're just setting yourself up for failure, and the company will probably see it. But if you really love what you do, your passion and excitement will be loud and clear in your tone. Despite my lack of experience, this was realistically what made me stand out the most when I got the job. Yes, I had work to show, and I was comfortable with Linux. But what this showed was I wasn't here to just get paid. We've all heard the "if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life" line. A more accurate way to state that, in my opinion, is that if you have the passion to make it, the effort won't seem like a chore.
If you can stick to these 3 concepts, then everything will fall into place. Show off your skills, share your passion, and don't be stupid.