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Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert
Mark has been involved in EDA recruiting for over 18 years. He is Founder and President of EDA Careers, but started his career in EDA as executive Vice President at EDA Jobs. Mark was also VP of Marketing and Business Development in the beginning of the Internet revolution and has been a … More »

What’s the XFACTOR, Best Solutions for Technical Interviewing Success…How was DVCON… EDA-Careers Hits the TOP 1% on Linkedin…

February 28th, 2013 by Mark Gilbert

WOW, the top 1% of viewed profiles on LINKEDIN…actually my profile Mark Gilbert, but they are one and the same…see the award below (though would have preferred something in GOLD)…I am indeed quite excited, imagine anyone in EDA hitting that, let alone this little ol (not old) recruiter.

Last column I wrote about interviewing ideas for Sales folks…this time I am writing specifically to you technical engineering types hoping to help you avoid the simplest of interviewing calamities.  It is absolutely amazing how many candidates, regardless of experience and accomplishment, make the most basic mistakes that cost them a second interview.  So read this and take it to the bank…my advice will make a huge difference in your probability of having a successful interview.

It is crucial to know your real, not imagined XFACTOR…have you watched any of the reality competition shows like XFACTOR?  Do you think a few of the candidates “auditioning” needed a serious reality check before being “interviewed”?  Had they only bit off what they could actually chew…really prepared or knew what they could actually brilliantly perform/present up front, they would have saved themselves so much time and embarrassment.  The same holds true for technical interviewing.  Be realistic in your approaches and expectations…know what you can and cannot convincingly discuss in the interview that justifies your qualifications for the position and for the company.  This is not about what you feel you deserve, it is about what you have actually shown you can handle, what your experience dictates.  Don’t attempt to sing a Whitney Houston song when you can barely sing Do-Re-Mi.

The first thing every candidate needs to do, regardless of experience or position, is to prepare and the best place to start your preparation is on the company’s website.  You need to study that baby thoroughly, understanding exactly what the company is tackling and how their approaches differ from the competition. It certainly doesn’t hurt to read a few white papers and know a little about the competition as well.  Learn some of the simpler things like when the company started and where some of the management team worked before…it makes for great conversation during your interview and shows you did your homework.     It is the kiss of death for you when a company mentions their tool and you say, “what’s that”?  (Don’t laugh, it happens more than you think)!

The most common snafu that candidates make is asking too many darn questions.  There are questions that while deserving of an answer should not be asked, ESPECIALLY during the first conversation.  Lets go over a few and, by the way, these are the very same things I discuss with every one of my candidates before they ever interview.  You must have one simple goal in the first interview and that is to get a SECOND interview. I know that some of you are saying DUHHH, who doesn’t know that…well guess again my friends, MOST OF YOU NEVER BREAK IT DOWN SO SIMPLY!  The simple reality is, you must do everything possible to get them to like you and want to bring you back in again.  Questions like what are your revenues, how many customers, are you profitable, even your title (job function of course is ok to discuss) should be avoided.  Clearly these are all fair questions deserving of an answer but not during the first conversation!  Do it when they like you, when they want you…it works more to your advantage and is perceived differently by company management.

When interviewing, show how well you can communicate with others and your ability to be a team player, show how you’re willing to listen to other ideas and approaches and validate them in the meeting.  Look at everyone, and I mean everyone, because you never want someone feeling like you snubbed him or her which could lead to a bad recommendation on your interview performance in the after rap up.  Bare in mind, these are the same people who you might be working with and this is where they will make their first impression of you. Show them you are a thinker and that you are not locked into one approach when deriving a solution.  I always like to use my Great America analogy.  (Hopefully you know San Jose).  If you were at SJC Airport and someone said “how do I get to Great America”, you would (correctly) tell them to follow the exits to 101 North, stay right, take the Great American PKWY exit, bare right 6 blocks and turn right.  Yes, that is the correct and the most basic way to go, but what do you do if the exit to 101 from the airport is blocked or if there is too much traffic on the 101?  Do you know other ways of getting there that would impress the most knowledgeable?  Show them that you are always ready for traffic and thinking of the best and most efficient way to solve the problem…think out of the box but not out of this world.

Leave with a nice handshake and thank everyone for his or her time.  Some say it is even nice to drop each member you met a SHORT note thanking them and telling them how much you enjoyed the experience and how impressed you were with the company.  (This holds especially true with Start-ups). These basics make the best impression and give you the best shot at success…of course if your technical abilities are not there, I cannot help you.

As for DVCON all I can say is they had a great turnout and everyone seemed pretty happy.  Verification is certainly the hot space right now, no denying that.  I had several really good meetings and heard a lot of optimism, though I do not expect hiring to really bloom for another few months.  I was surprised at some of the personal changes but felt very comfortable with most of the management changes I learned about.  Call me and I will be glad to share the experience with you but I do not like to talk publicly about my most inner thoughts…I mean about what I learned at the show.  Next week I have ISQED and a few more meetings again in the Valley with a new column about who knows what shortly to follow.

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