Interview Towers: How To (Not) Approach Job Search
It’s been a bit over a month since I started looking for a job. This week I learned a couple of very important lessons that I am taking forward with me in the weeks ahead.
At the beginning of my job search I gathered 5 companies in my pipeline. I was advancing with one that I was really interested in. I was building my interview tower with them. After going over three critical steps I decided to say no to the other companies as they did not meet all the expectations I had, and so I left those towers unbuilt.
After 5 stages, and many hours invested in the company I ended up not getting the job. I was devastated. It was like having fallen from the top of the tower. It took me a couple of days to process it and after doing it, here’s what I learned:
First Lesson: Work with several options in parallel
Although I have a clear definition of what I am after, I should not focus all of my energy in only one company that meets those characteristics. Having rejected the other companies was OK. If I hadn’t I would have too quickly sacrificed my requirements. I am not ready for that, yet. While I know this is a high risk approach, I know the payoff is worth it. The chances of finding a place that fits me is that reward. However, that does not mean focusing on one company at a time, like I did.
At first, I thought doing it was for the sake of putting in quality over quantity. I still think that is important. But I can most definitely have more than one quality conversation in parallel. Especially considering that companies are not always too quick to give feedback after a session (a practice I disagree with, because if you take the time as a team to decide and calibrate how you make decisions to hire, you should actually be able to do it quickly or at the very least manage candidate expectations).
So the first lesson is: when looking for a job, preselect several companies that meet my preferred criteria and actively engage with them in parallel.
Second Lesson: Get the basics clear early on
After getting through these 5 stages and giving it my all, I never got an understanding of what I was getting. I knew what role they wanted and why they wanted it. This was my main driver because I could see how my experience was going to help me with those challenges and how that was going to be exciting for me.
But I never clarified any of the other fundamentals: Salary range, other benefits, who would be my manager (yup, after 5 rounds, this wasn’t clear), etc. It wasn’t that I didn’t deem these things important. I just gave them the benefit of the doubt because I knew part of the team, and I lowered my shield and trusted that time would come and it would not disappoint. But nope, I never got that information. This made the blow of the rejection particularly hard. I don’t even know what the hell I was in for.
While I understand that companies need to know if a person is the right fit, especially for a high level role, it is only fair that I also get to know and agree to some fundamentals before I invest that much time and energy in a company.
So lesson number two: get the basics clear before investing myself too deeply into a hiring process.
A couple of final notes
I know these lessons sound like no-brainers, but here I am, a seasoned professional and yet, I missed these two things. Having conversations with friends was really important in helping me see through the disappointment. A friend is also responsible for the Interview Towers reference she uses when talking about going through these hiring processes. I realized the visual those towers created in my mind were super helpful in being able to solidify the lessons I learned from this experience.
Now it is time to fine tune my process and keep going.
Wish me luck and