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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 »

DVCON, How Was It? …Interviewing Smartly Makes A Significant Difference! …My Thoughts On Working Remotely…

March 10th, 2014 by Mark Gilbert

My column is a little late this month because I decided that with DVCON just days away, DVCON should be front and center in my column.  So, I am writing this as I fly back from DVCON in San Jose, to Miami. Yes for those of you that do not know, I am from Miami and have been doing recruiting for EDA remotely for a lot of years and while that might be the perfect segue for discussing working remotely, you will have to read on to read that.

DVCON keeps getting better and better each year, they actually added a short Monday evening working reception, which was a lot of fun and a great idea.  This is probably my (more or less) 10th visit to the conference and I must say that more and more folks are attending and the exhibitor list grows each year.  DVCON is a small but well attended conference and exhibitor showcase that serves as both a social center and a business opportunity for the VERIFICATION industry.  Rarely have I heard a complaint about the traffic and to boot, it even has a nice happy hour…you know how crazy those EDA goers can get!

This year was indeed well attended and I saw a few new attendees, in fact, there were booths in the hallway this year, which is something new.  Since verification is one of the hotbeds of our industry and since it is so centrally located in SJ, (at the Doubletree Airport), the stream of attendees is constant.  (Free drinks and food certainly help, which is why I go).

On a positive note, I picked up several new job reqs while there though not quite what I had hoped for, though everyone said business was quite robust.  I do not think hiring always reflects the status of business.  Business is strong and I think hiring to some degree has leveled off though hiring is still happening.

As for interviewing smartly… quite simply, there are right and wrong approaches to interviewing and you better know the right ones if you want any chance of improving your odds for success.  My (smart) suggestions are tried and true and work.  I suggest you follow my common sense practical guidelines before taking the first interview call or going in for the first interview.  And let me be clear, before any of my candidates talk to anyone from the company, (and I do not care if they are going in for a VP or entry level position, with the CEO or janitor, similar basics apply), I make sure they are adequately prepared.  I invite any of my current or soon to be friends out there to call me, even if I have not put you in for the position, as I am always glad to help.  So…

First and by far most important, BE PREPARED!  That means know the company’s tools, study the website, read white papers…This might shock you but the worst first question you can ask is, “so tell me what you guys do” or even simply, “tell me about you guys”.  You should know all you can about the company…from how they do what they do, to how do they do it differently than a similar product.  You should understand the problem(s) they are attacking, and how the company seems to position themselves and perhaps the challenges they face.

This is key and you better understand it clearly.  The first interview, first talk is all about them liking you and NOT about you liking them…that happens later.  If they like you, you get a second interview…so make them like you.  This is where you show them how you are a team player, a GOOD LISTENER and a thinker.  How you came prepared and how interested you are in what THEY do.  This is where you dazzle them with your hope to be involved in THEIR future, no matter your doubts…that gets addressed AFTER they like you.  Do not ask questions like (unless it comes up organically and feels appropriate, which it usually will not), their revenue, if they are profitable, the comp plan, the title, or any probing questions.  Your goal is to leave the first talk with them saying, “I liked him/her and want to set up something with the rest of the team”.  The more they like you, the more questions they will feel comfortable answering later.  If you went in through an experienced qualified industry recruiter, they can usually answer those questions and most of your concerns or get the answers in a more subtle way.

Remember, companies look at their tools as their “baby” and I always say, no one likes their baby to be called ugly.  Refrain from probing or critical questions about their “baby”, no matter how valid or innocent you might think they are.  Validate, do not intimidate even if you are sure you know a better way.  Often, it is more about how you bring up a concern or point about their “baby”.  How you say it matters more than the intrinsic value of what you are saying.  Let me say it again, the more they like you, the more you can get your questions answered or opinions respected.

As for working remotely…as this seems to come up a lot…for start-ups, it is almost always a no-starter.  Companies want you at the office where you are part of the every day work and internal discussions.  Development comes from the synergy of the engineers collaborating throughout the day and even though you can tele-web in, it is not the same.  This principle applies to almost all positions.  Also consider additional costs to working remotely from all sides.  This is something companies frown on, as no one wants the additional expenses.  The exception is sometimes considered if the candidate is simply amazing, so if you are not an ABSOLUTE SUPERSTAR, forget it, as “it ain’t happening”.  For the most part, if you need to work remotely, consider the bigger companies as they are more equipped to handle this.  As for me, since I do consider myself a Super-Star, I am working remotely at LAX, and at 37,000 feet and will be happy to get back to my office and get this column published and put my Super-Star white sport coat back in the closet.

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